Sunday, October 23, 2005

US: Web: Transcript: Melissa Etheridge's Anthem of Hope

US: Web: Transcript: Melissa Etheridge's Anthem of Hope:

Melissa Etheridge & Joss Stone Perform At the Grammys 2005

"If anyone can turn a bout with breast cancer into an anthem of hope, it's Melissa Etheridge. Etheridge is now cancer-free, and feeling stronger than ever. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it's the perfect time, we thought, to check in with a survivor who was diagnosed a year ago this month.

Eight months ago, Etheridge talked for the first time about her battle against breast cancer. In a recent interview, she reveals new details about her struggle, including her decision to use a controversial drug to help her get through chemotherapy.

Stone Phillips, anchor: The day you were diagnosed with cancer is not one to celebrate. But it's been a year. Is this a happy anniversary?

Melissa Etheridge: Happy? Yeah. Happy time to look back and go, 'Whoa, look at this year. What a year. My goodness. We can get through anything.'

Phillips: The hair is back.

Etheridge: How 'bout that?

Etheridge: I decided instead of signing up for the drugs that-well, there's the drug that you take for the pain. But that constipates you. So, you have to take the constipation drug. But then that actually gives you diarrhea. So, you need a little diarrhea drug. Instead of taking five or six of the prescriptions, I decided to go a natural route and smoke marijuana.Phillips: Medicinal marijuana.

Etheridge: Medicinal marijuana. Absolutely. Every doctor I talked to that I asked about it said that's the best thing to do. The doctors know.

Phillips: You spoke to your doctors about using marijuana?

Etheridge: Oh, yeah. From the surgeons to the oncologists to the radiation. Every single one was, "Oh, yeah. That's the best help for the effects of chemotherapy."

While the medical community remains divided, California is one of 10 states that allows seriously ill people to use marijuana, with a doctor's recommendation. But federal law prohibits the drug under any circumstances. So, Melissa's doctors didn't actually write a prescription. And Melissa used it, despite the risk of federal prosecution.

Etheridge: If they really wanted to come get me really, I mean, there's so much more going on. And I just-no, I didn't worry. But it was worth it.

Smoking the marijuana proved too harsh, so early on, she switched to a vaporizer to inhale it. She says it eased her pain, restored her appetite and lifted her depression.

Phillips: How often were you using it?

Etheridge: Oh, every day. I was doing a lot of it at the time, for my pain and for my symptoms. And the minute I didn't feel it, it I stopped.

Phillips: As a rock star, your position on this does not come as a complete surprise.

Etheridge: I know, I know.

(Access Video, more)