I'm a mother to 3 beautiful boys, and a devoted wife who is lucky enough to be married to my high school sweetheart. I am also a medical marijuana patient and a cannabis oil patient advocate who strives to live a natural and healthy lifestyle.
Cannabis and Cancer: From Stage 4 to Remission, Doctors Call Stan Rutner Miracle Man
Retired dentist and Stanford graduate Stan Rutner was almost 80 years old and dying in hospice care, given just weeks to live. His diagnosis — stage 4 lung cancer — had metastasized to the brain, and doctors were out of options. But Stan’s journey didn’t end there. Stan starting using cannabis infused coconut oil as medicine to stimulate his appetite, and things started to turn around. Doctors now call him “Miracle Man.”
This wasn’t Stan’s first bout with cancer, though. In 1989, he’d beaten a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma using traditional therapies, and his family was no stranger to the cancer beast — his wife had battled breast cancer twice, successfully overcoming the odds twice since they had been married. In sickness and in health, these two were happy to have that all behind them. And with a new healthy lifestyle in place, Stan and Barb were enjoying a good life. Until one day, everything changed.
Stan had recently retired from years at his successful dental practice, and was enjoying running a new venture — a storage business in California — when a little cough turned into something so much, much worse.
March 2011, Stan’s Cancer Returns
In March 2011, Stan — 77 years old at the time — had a cough persistent enough that he followed up with his doctor for a routine exam. The results were anything but routine. There were cancerous nodes in the lungs, doctors said, that were causing Stan’s trouble.
“Yeah, [my doctor] was really diplomatic. He says, ‘You’re in deep shit.’ Or words to that effect,” Stan says in an interview with Culture Magazine.
He went straight in to conventional treatment — chemo and radiation — for the lung cancer. But what doctors found shortly after caused the diagnosis to become a lot worse: Stan was now fighting stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to the brain. Doctor’s showed him the scan revealing a tumor the size of a walnut on his brain, and it was inoperable.
“Yeah, he didn’t sugar coat it at all,” Barb adds.
First Comes Cancer, Then Comes Radiation
Stan then began brain radiation in hope of fighting the tumor. But this time, his body did not tolerate the treatment the way it had before.
By July 13th, he was admitted into the hospital with a form of pneumonia called radiation pneumonitis — an inflammation of the lungs due to radiation therapy.
Stan was in and out of the hospital for the next several weeks, suffering from complications from the side effects of the radiation.
By the third hospital visit, Stan was required to stay for an entire week. He was placed on oxygen around the clock, and and was in the wasting stages of his illness. His health continued to decline. According to his family, the once robust man was wasting away before their eyes. All the traditional medical efforts being used to save Stan’s life were not enough, and this time, doctors were out of options.
Enter Hospice, and the Countdown to the End
Stan’s doctors at Kaiser Permanente subsequently released him into hospice care, during which he would receive palliate care at home and live out his final days. Before entering a hospice facility, a physician must certify that a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a life expectancy of six months or less. Doctors weren’t even giving Stan months, though. They were less optimistic about his time left, estimating he only had weeks to live.
“Four at best,” Stan said.
“There has to be something we can do,” begged Stan’s family.
His oncologist replied with one word: “Morphine.”
Stan’s Got a Brand New Plan
Stan’s daughter Corinne wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to her dad, though. There was still so much she wanted to do and share with him, and she refused to watch her frail father waste away any longer. With the help of her (now) husband John, they starting thinking outside the box. They decided to use cannabis to help her dad eat again.
As the family sat in shock, trying to process the news, John mentioned cannabis.
“It’s in the news daily…what about cannabis and cancer,” John asked.
The oncologist admitted to not knowing much about using it — not unusual, considering the difficulty in researching the plant — but at this stage, she was willing to let the family experiment in hope of easing Stan’s transition.
Aware of the statistics estimating that 40 percent of cancer patients die from malnutrition caused by traditional cancer treatments, Stan’s family was desperate to see him to regain his appetite.
They didn’t know much about cannabis and cancer, but did know cannabis was associated with bringing on the feeling of hunger, and they were hoping it would help.
Daddy’s Little Girl Becomes Caregiver
Corinne was appointed the position of caregiver and, with that responsibility, she started an information and education crusade — researching all the credible cannabis information she could find.
“We didn’t know where to start,” recalls Corinne. “There were so many unknowns in the beginning. We were really on our own and desperate for this to work.”
It wasn’t long after that Stan had a medical marijuana card, a caregiver, and his cannabis oil in hand.
In November ’11, Stan had his first dose of cannabis oil, a dose that kickstarted the road to recovery.
Stan started off using very low doses of high THC cannabis, which was infused in coconut oil. Stan’s approach to using cannabis is a little different than the other “hit it hard” treatment protocols touted by the cannabis community. Initially unaware of the idea that people were using the oil as a curative treatment, Stan only used cannabis as a palliative treatment in an effort to regain his appetite. Low and slow was the plan.
Compared to most, Stan’s initial doses were extremely low, with each capsule testing between 8-10 mg of THC/CBD. Stan cut each capsule into 3 parts and consumed a third of one capsule each day.
According to his family, within the very first 24 hours, there were noticeable improvements. Stan not only regained his apatite that day, but also found the energy to sit at his computer and return some emails. A week later, Stan was mobile again, and was able to pack the oxygen tank away in the closet where, according to Stan, is where it remains today.
“I’ve never used it again,” Stan says, smiling at the thought.
Stan continued to improve daily, and began to walk unassisted again — walking up stairs and even participating in exercise classes.
After 6 months of steady improvements, Stan’s family had discovered through their research that many patients were using the oil in a concentrated form to battle their actual cancer, not just the appetite. Convinced this would help, Stan added the concentrated extract to his daily regiment. Just a half of a rice-sized dose was all he added, he says, about one hour before bed.
Stan continued with this addition to his treatment for three more months.
It wasn’t long before the hospice agency took notice and started asking questions.
“I don’t know why we’re here” Stan’s nurse would joke. “Every day you’re looking better!”
And in September 2012, 13 months later, Stan was released from hospice care.
According to Corinne, at one point, Stan expressed his desire for no more scans. But after 9 months on cannabis oil, he had started to believe things were different. He was feeling great and wanted some answers. So without his family’s knowledge, Stan snuck off to get a brain scan.
The results of Stan’s brain MRI arrived nine months after using cannabis by way of an email from his oncologist. An email that has changed their life and their views of a cure.
“IMPRESSION: No evidence of recurrent disease,” the email said. The lung cancer he had battled since 2011 — the one that had metastasized to his brain and nearly taken his life — was gone.
Although doctors at Kaiser Permanente do not credit cannabis for curing Stan’s cancer, they do now refer to him as “Miracle Man.”
When Corinne was asked if she believed cannabis saved her Dad’s life, she seems sure of her answer.
“I am 100 percent, no question. I believe that the brain tumor is completely gone because of the cannabis,” she says.
Barb is also convinced cannabis saved Stan’s life, and as a result, she has begun using cannabis oil as a daily preventative measure in hopes of keeping another round of the cancer beast at bay.
“We are deeply grateful to his team of doctors, friends and family, but we’ll always believe that cannabis turned the tide,” she says.
Since the all clear, Stan has done a lot of traveling, horseback riding strength and balance classes, and plenty of walking, too. Along with his wife Barb, they educate people about the benefits of cannabis at the senior center where they reside. And they work together closely with their daughter Corinne and her husband John, giving lectures on cannabis to help residents understand the process of finding relief. They also assist many of the resident in obtaining their own medical cannabis cards.
“The response from other seniors has been amazing,” says Corinne. “They are very interested in hearing my Dad’s story and learning more.”
A Joyous Wedding Day
Of all the education they shared and the lives they have touched, no moment has been as sweet for Stan and his daughter, Corinne, as the one when Stan was able to walk Corinne down the aisle.
Corinne remembers the moment John proposed, her first thoughts on her dad.
“We better do this sooner than later,” she thought. More than anything, always daddy’s little girl, she wanted her father to walk her down the aisle.
But while Stan never thought he’d make it to that day, it all came together. He was in complete remission.
And then, there they were, just the two of them, waiting for the barn doors to open, with their family and friends patiently waiting on the other side. It was the moment they both thought might never come, and it was time for Stan to give his daughter away. And not to just any man, mind you — to the man that helped save his life.
The barn doors opened and for the first time since this journey began, time seemed to stand still. Corinne took an extra moment to be thankful. She had everything she wanted — her dad by her side, and her soulmate in sight.
“It was just so surreal,” she says. It’s something Corinne says she’ll cherish forever.
Stan was so proud, and so happy, he couldn’t hold back his excitement. His joy slipped out of his hand and into the air, in the form of a fist. Triumphantly raising his arm, he shook his fist as if to say, “We Did It!”
And as he escorted Corinne through the big barn doors of their open air church, he couldn’t help but to beam with pride.
And Now, Stan at 82
A few months ago, Stan had his fifth brain and lung scan, and it was confirmed: he is still cancer-free.
Stan’s success has become a family affair, through which The United Patient’s Group was born. The group was started by daughter Corinne and her husband John, whose marketing background has proved useful to help the group help others.
“The United Patients Group (UPG) is an information and resource hub, and trusted leader in Medical Cannabis- for patients, physicians and organizations. UPG acts as a virtual hand for patients, helping them navigate through this ever changing industry,” their website states.
Corinne says they wanted a place for patients, physician and organizations to be able to come together in one easy to navigate place to easily find the information they were looking for. The site provides all the information and resources you would need to get started — whether you’re a patient or a physician. They offer consultations and have licensed physicians on staff to help assist with questions, concerns and dosing. The UPG also has educational courses available on their site.
Stan’s Magic Potion, or Coconut Oil Cannabis Caps
After hearing about Stan’s success, several patients began to inquire about obtaining the capsules Stan used. Corinne found a collective in California that was willing to carry them. Now, they can have somewhere reliable to direct patients in California to, a place called Miriam’s Hope Collective.
“I met Corinne Via cannabis oil success stories. We became friends and in the course of that we started collaborating together. Many of the patients that would come to them would ask where they could get these capsules. But since UPG does not distribute medicines they asked if me if Myriam’s Hope, a private and discreet non-profit Medical Cannabis Collective could carry them so patients had a safe reliable place where they could get them from, so this is how we started carrying them,” said Diana Pena, founder of Myriam’s Hope Collective.
There’s a 3 step process to making the capsules, and Myriam’s Hope shared the process with us.
The end result is a very low dose, combined thc/cbd of apprx 8-10mg, plus the raw plant.
“The capsule is the only thing we [ Myriam’s Hope] don’t make ourselves. The person that makes them is not a collective so she can’t sell them to patients. But here’s the process that describe exactly how it’s made,” says Diana.
The first part of the process consists of simmering dried and cured cannabis into coconut oil.
Once infused, the mixture is cooled to room temperature before straining. Once cooled and strained, more dried, cured cannabis is added into the mixture. The mixture remains at room temperature for several hours before straining again and filling into caps.