A Story of How Medical Cannabis Transformed One Patient’s Life

A Story of How Medical Cannabis Transformed One Patient’s Life

By Ed Coghlan.

There are literally millions of stories about chronic pain—one for each person who has to battle chronic pain.

In suburban Chicago later this month, you are going to hear the  journey of a one woman injured in her youth who went to hell and back as an adult and thinks using cannabis has changed her life.

Her name is Rebecca Sewell.

In 1993, as a ten-year-old, she unknowingly participated in a magic trick where some handcuffs were placed on her ankle.

Rebecca Sewell believes that medical cannabis changed her life. She provided this “before and after” photo.

What happened was anything but magical.

She was injured and her parents couldn’t get it diagnosed. It was Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) as it turns out, but after months of therapy it went into remission.

For Rebecca, life continued and actually went very well.

She moved to New York, went to Fashion School and began to craft a career on the finance side of fashion. She was doing well.

Then in 2006, she suffered a lower extremity stress fracture that the doctors put it into a cast.

The pain she remembered as a ten-year-old came roaring back.

“I tried a lot of different things, including spinal and ganglion blocks, but they didn’t help much,” she said.

She kept working and was advancing as a Control Analyst at Ross Stores.

But the pain persisted, and in November 2007, she went on short term disability and moved in with her mom in Florida. The pain became so intense that she actually need a walker in order to get around.

The short-term disability became longer as the pain persisted. She tried spinal cord stimulation in 2008, ketamine drip and a morphine pump.

Things didn’t get much better.

She and her mom moved back to their native South Dakota, and by this time Rebecca was confined to a hospital bed.

“I was determined to live on my own again,” she said. “I just wasn’t sure how.”

Then 2012 happened.

“It wasn’t my year,” she said.

Among the maladies that Rebecca was battling that year were CRPS, fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia, and diabetes.

“I was taking twelve different medications including a continuous morphine drip. I just about hit bottom,” she said.

She and her mother moved to Sacramento California. Rebecca was wheelchair bound. Things were not looking up.

“I knew Rebecca when she was in that wheelchair.  I knew her when her body was failing her, and so were her doctors,” said Gracie Bagosy-Young.

In 2014, she began using cannabis recreationally.

“It helped me relax,” she said.

She spoke with her doctors who were, like many at that time, resistant to the medicinal value of cannabis. They decided to recommend another morphine pump.

In 2014, after eight years of battling the ravages of chronic pain, Rebecca made a decision.

“I wanted to have that morphine pump removed,” she said.

It took her a year to titrate down. During that time, she broadened her use of cannabis and began to experiment, something she recommends for anyone using medical cannabis.

The pump was removed. Even that wasn’t easy. She spent 25 days in intensive care to repair a spinal fluid leak that occurred during the removal. The pain was excruciating.

She credits medical cannabis to help her relax enough in the hospital to deal with the pain.

“In 2016, I stopped the use of most pharmaceuticals, lost 60 pounds and my thyroid and diabetes issues started to recede.”

Rebecca, who has become involved politically in expanding the use of cannabis, still has bouts with her chronic pain. She says she’s not 100% healed but is feeling “way better” physically and emotionally.

“Oh sure, I still get flares,” she said. “But now they are in the 1-to-2 range versus the 9-to-10 I used to experience.”

She used opioids in one fashion or another for nine years and she wishes she hadn’t.

“I know this will irritate many chronic pain sufferers, but opioids don’t alter chronic pain, they mask it,” she said, a message that she plans to share on Sunday April 22 at the Illinois Cannabis Education Expo.

 “I witnessed her life transformation with cannabis.  The world needs to hear this for themselves!” 

That’s how event organizer Gracie Bagosy-Young described her decision to bring Rebecca to Illinois.

You can attend the Expo is person or watch it online. To register, click here.


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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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But the thing is, insurance wont help pay for it. Ive wanted to try it for my pain which is making me feel near suicidal.

Michelle Routson

I also have CRPS and have had it for 18 years after my entire right foot was reversed over my a person in an electric wheelchair. I felt my tissue grind against my bones as he rolled over it. It spread to my left foot and ankle in 2013 after my ankle buckled. Then in my right hand after smashing it in the door jam between my wheelchair. I was bedridden and wheelchair bound for 6 months. I gained 100lbs. I have been on Pharmaceutical medications for 17 years until last year in September when after losing 150lbs (natural) I decided for my health to switch to Medical Marijuana. I find ingesting it works better for my pain. I have been freed from the 17+ years of chains to medications. No my pain is not gone but it is manageable. I understand people who say I need my pain pills because I use to be that person too. I know pain and when you feel like something gives you relief you are not willing to give that up because you never want to be in that pain again. The answer isn’t just 1 thing, it’s a combination of things. Watching what you eat, watching your weight, finding a physical activity that you can do, and taking less pharmaceuticals. At least that is what I have noticed helped me. Thank you Rebecca for sharing your story, you inspire me!

Lori T.

I am thrilled that this young woman found that cannibis working for her. I would love to try it for myself but it is not legal in my state yet. I had never tried it when I was younger so it would be nice to see if that might work for me. Being a chronic pain patient in this state and using cannibis would surely violate my pain agreement and if found in one of my drug screens, I would be kicked out of the program for sure. However, if harsher laws on opioids continue the way that they have been and I am tapered down so much that my prescription won’t work for me or if I am cut off all together, you can bet I will shred my opioid contract and try cannibus in all of the forms available, even if it is still not legal in my state. One has to try something if the opioids are cut off. By the way, my opioid is morphine and the dose is working very well for me at the level it is at. But if morphine is no longer available to me in the dose that works, I will for sure go herbal. And if that doesn’t work or I cannot get it without too much trouble…well let’s say I have my 45 cal revolver ready for the terrible choice I know I will have to make as I will not live in this kind of pain and suffering for the rest of my life. No way! I know that this could be a real problem for me down the line but I will surely be ready. I don’t have a death wish I just want semblance of life. Is that asking too much?

Mark Ibsen MD

Great story


I wish she would respect the treatment decisions of others. Her story is wonderful and I’m glad for her, but access to opioids allows me to work, so that I can afford medical insurance, so that I can get the care that I need. Sufferers often praise their treatment of choice, which is great — I totally support that! Please don’t discredit the treatments that others have chosen.

Maybe one treatment is not inherently better than another. Maybe the treatment that is better is the one that works for you. Maybe the treatment that works for you may not work for someone else. We will acknowledge (hopefully) that everyone’s experience of a treatment may differ, that our symptoms are different, that our bodies are different…

… so why does one treatment have to be at the exclusion of others?

In the long run, it is far better for people to have choices than to be told that care is going to be “one-size-fits-all.”

I didn’t tolerate an arthritis medication (diclofenac) and yet my mother was able to tolerate that same medication and takes it regularly. I had been doubled over with gut pain when taking it.

I also have multiple food and pollen allergies. I honestly don’t even know if that can be a factor in tolerating medical marijuana. I’m sure people will reassure me that it’s not an issue… because when it’s a chosen treatment, it gets a halo and certainly if it’s fine for you, it must be fine for everyone.


It’s absolutely wonderful that a young lady who went through so much trauma has found her way of dealing with her life and her pain. Some things help some with chronic pain that unfortunately don’t help others. Though I believe in your opinion stating that opioids don’t alter chronic pain, they certainly have helped millions and millions to lead productive lives. I also experimented with marijuana in my early twenties and to this day I regret it. It robbed me of two years of my life. I don’t think it’s fair that you have found your cure all and are trying to make others feel as though ours is useless. God made each and everyone of us different. If we feel that our opioids are our cure, I don’t think it’s right that you say after using marijuana and finding it more helpful than opioids, that’s suppose to be a cure-all for everyone. I wish you the best, but we’re having a hard enough time trying to keep our opioids without someone else in chronic pain stating they don’t work.

The mistake Rebecca makes about opioids, is the same mistake that she and her doctors initially made about cannabis.

The human body has endogenous cannabinoid and opioid systems.

We never are actually free of either substance, because we make them internally in our own cells, from the food we eat. (For details, click my name above this comment. It will take you to a webpage with many links explaining this.).

What Rebecca describes, is an apparent shortage of something her endocannabinoid system needed, that she could not make enough of herself, and that deficiency resulted in CRPS symptoms.

People who suffer a similar shortage of their endogenous opioids Dopamine and Morphine, experience equally-bad symptoms that mysteriously get better when they take opioids.

Neither group is masking anything, when they take the drugs that they actually need.

But yes, it is possible to mask some of the symptoms of a deficiency, by giving a drug that masks some of the symptoms of that deficiency.

Where we need to wise up, as a nation, is to recognize that people have diverse needs, and need the freedom to work at meeting those needs. We wasted a century fighting a Drug War, on the false premise that everyone had the same needs and a policy could be made, saying which drugs are good for everybody. Rejecting the fact of our own diversity, caused more problems than the Drug War ever prevented. We need a better solution to addiction issues, because people who start having a problem with drugs and need help getting off a drug, need to be understood and helped. Outlawing all drugs simply forces everyone to suffer, and that’s stupid.

And this isn’t even ALL of her story….Rebecca truly is an inspiration to us all!


I have myself been looking into medical marijuana. What I have found is that insurance doesn’t cover it and it’s super expensive, so I can’t even try it, not to mention I can’t find any facilities near me. I have questions too. I have contacted 2 places through their email contacts and nobody even responded. I have many questions and no answers. My pain meds have been lowered so quickly and so drastically that I can barely function at all anymore. It feels like my life as I knew it is over. I can’t sleep, I can’t move around, I basically can’t do anything. I would love to at least try medical marijuana but I just can’t get any info. If you have any advice I would greatly appreciate it.