An Activists Fight Against Cancer: July 1

This is an ongoing column we will be posting from David Williams as he shares his point of view during his fight against Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Portland. David and his wife Heather founded Coma Treats, a medical cannabis edible company, in 2013 and contribute recipes to our publication. You can follow his progress and see facebook live video updates at


July 1, 2018 – Day 7 at OHSU’s Leukemia floor and I am now watching the last drops of Cytarabine (chemo) going into my veins. The side effects I have had have been very mild but they say they could get worse. Dealing with cancer, chemo, being poked and prodded, is nothing compared to how hard it is to be away from my family. So, truly, the waiting is the hardest part.

David’s Chemo drug Cytarabine being administered. Image: David Williams

My family came to Oregon around 10 years ago for this hospital for my wife. She has a rare auto immune disorder but the doctors in Texas, where I am from, referred us to this exact hospital. Strange how it came full circle that the same place is helping me.

I didn’t like Oregon at first. When you come from a place that has so much sun to a place that is so gray, it can make you question your choices. That said, I had to get my lady up here and, luckily enough, her father lived in Lane County, too. Just wanted her to be by her Dada in case anything happened, and my daughter agreed, so we left the lone star state as a family in crisis.

The hospital finally was able to stabilize her and she quit having to use a wheelchair but got on a regimen of pills she took for a couple of years. We saw about 4 doctors a month. Luckily my employer helped create a spot for me here. I am forever thankful for that. We got close to family and started our life when we received the best advice we ever got from a doctor–try marijuana. We laughed and left the office.

Her disease was especially brutal on her due to the pain. I can still remember all the pills, and eventually they asked to have her put on Fentanyl patches. I’ll never forget those words, “we need to get her comfortable.” He wasn’t the same doctor that said try marijuana, and he was just making me plan for the long road ahead.

I grew up Southern Baptist and Heather, my wife, went to a religious high school. I won’t go into all the lies about marijuana that were told to us as kids. That’s easy to find online or right here in the OCC Newspaper. But, I will tell you we looked at weed as a hard drug. It was the word Fentanyl–a pain medication used on large animals at one time–and 2 friends that had used marijuana that really got me to think, “what do you have to lose.” I was already losing her.

We took our whole family to the OMMP clinic the first time. Over 3 months we maneuvered through the hoops to get her card, then finding cannabis, starting usage (slowly), and eventually learning to grow it ourselves (which I hid for years). Low and behold, almost immediately she started becoming more aware and didn’t have to take some of the morphine. On small amounts, too. I think it was just a gram a week at first.

We learned of the meet-up groups for OMMP that would share knowledge, marijuana, and fellowship. It was like finding this incredible truth, and great people. That is truly were Heather started making the Coma Treats. In 6 months she was off all her pain medications and lost tons of weight.

I talked extensively to my doctors and tried to look at some research papers on medical research sites, but unfortunately for my Acute Myeloid Leukemia diagnosis there are no cases of it being effective on the cancer. AML is like other cancers–you don’t have time–and it is basically like fighting for air as I go on fighting. There may be some hope, but we will have to take the marijuana and put it in every day medicine as a whole plant, not just CDB or THC.

The cannabis compounds work together better. Look up the “entourage effect” for cannabis, then you will be making your own edibles if you get sick. So while they tear me down, I know good food and cannabis will build me back up when I leave in 2-3 weeks.

Wish me luck next week and thanks for the encouraging emails and prayers.