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New Paltz, NY

A registered nurse for over 20 years, Eileen Konieczny has spent the last 18 years in oncology providing direct care to people suffering from cancer. She was also at her mother’s side when she passed away from pancreatic cancer at 60 years old and supported her sister when she lost her battle with breast cancer at 49 years old. “It was difficult to watch family suffer knowing that medical marijuana would ease their pain,” she says.

As a healthcare provider, Eileen has witnessed her patients struggle with a host of symptoms related to cancer and chemotherapy such as cachexia (wasting syndrome), intractable pain, and nausea. Many of the drugs prescribed to patients have significant side-effects that “greatly reduce the quality of life for those living with cancer.” Because it has few side-effects, Eileen strongly believes medical marijuana should be available as a treatment. She says, “Every single day that I work I meet at least one patient who would benefit from medical marijuana.”

However recommending medical marijuana to her patients would carry the stiff penalty of getting fired on the spot, a risk that Eileen cannot take. She puts her job on the line every time she speaks out for access to medical marijuana. But in the interest of those she professionally and personally assisted in their struggle against cancer, she remains a strong advocate for medical marijuana. “It’s about your life, The fact is if I was diagnosed with cancer today, I would have to move to a state with medical cannabis legislation to gain legal access to what I believe is an effective medicine in the fight against cancer.”

Eileen is forced to choose between breaking the law to recommend a treatment she knows would help her patients and watching her patients suffer needlessly. This is choice no one should have to make.