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Group offers support for medical pot users

By: Dave Baxter

Posted: 08/12/2018 9:00 AM

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After witnessing the positive effects that medical cannabis has had on her, a Niverville woman now wants to reach out and offer a helping hand to others who may be considering medical marijuana as a way to relieve their pain.

Billie Fontaine of Niverville said that about five years ago she was diagnosed with blood cancer, a diagnosis that left her dealing with a wide range of health issues as well as mental health issues.

Fontaine said she began looking for the right medications to help with both the physical and mental issues she was dealing with.

"My oncologist was going to prescribe opioids for pain and other meds for anxiety and inability to sleep and I said ‘Isn’t there something you could prescribe that’s more natural?’" Fontaine said.

Fontaine was eventually prescribed medical cannabis, and began using cannabis oil as a way to relieve a number of her health and mental health issues.

She said once she started using the cannabis prescribed to her the effects were positive and immediate.

"That’s when my life changed, the effects were amazing." Fontaine said.

Through the experience of being prescribed and using medical cannabis Fontaine said she started to realize how much people don’t understand about medical marijuana, how many misconceptions there are about using it, and that many people are still nervous about seeking marijuana as a medical option.

"It’s crazy but there is still this taboo around using cannabis or smoking pot," Fontaine said. "A lot of people still see it as this shady thing and it shouldn’t be like that."

She said she also briefly worked at a clinic in Winnipeg that helped people access medical cannabis, and she saw how overwhelmed some patients became when they realized they had finally found something that could help them.

"It’s amazing to see how many people would literally cry tears of joy and relief," Fontaine said. "A lot of these people were desperate had been looking for years for anything that could help, these are people who tried everything, they tried all the opioids all the meds and nothing worked."

Fontaine is now a cancer survivor, and although she no longer works at the clinic in Winnipeg she still wants to help others get as much information about medical cannabis as possible.

Fontaine is now running the website and Facebook page Help You Heal, a support group consisting of an online community of people who are either medical cannabis users or people who are considering medical cannabis as an option.

"It’s there to show people how to get started, to offer tips and just to show support," Fontaine said. "We’re here to educate, but it’s also just a safe space with no judgement and people can come and not feel stigmatized because it’s people who are going through the same kinds of experiences.

"We want people to know they are not alone."

She said she is running the group because it is important to help people who look toward medical cannabis as an option and support others medical cannabis users.

"It’s a safe space, we don’t judge, we are just here to help each other and see the best for each other."

Fontaine said those who join the site will also often call, message or Facetime her if they need to talk.

"I’m here to communicate with people in whatever way they are most comfortable with," Fontaine said.

She also has seen all ages of people join the site with the oldest person in the group being 80 years old.

Fontaine said she now hopes more medical users or those interested in medical cannabis will join the site and join the conversation.

Anyone looking for more information on Help You Heal can visit helpyouheal.ca or search Help You Heal - ACMPR support group on Facebook.

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