Monique On, 31, is like every young woman in her thirties: active, driven and full of life. But that wasn’t always the case, not even close. By 19 years old, On knew more about pain than most people do in their lifetime.
At 14 years old, most girls are entering puberty and discovering their bodies. But for On, that’s when the darkness crept in. Over the next 12 years, the cause of On’s extreme pelvic pain remained a mystery to her and her doctors, until she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 26.
But On’s misery did not end there. Between playing hide-and-seek with an autoimmune disease for most of her adolescence, she was diagnosed with the six-letter-word no one wants to hear from a physician: cancer. When On was 19 years old, she found out she also had cervical cancer.
With two illnesses as aggressive as cancer and endometriosis, On was married to prescription drugs and painkillers for far too long.
During what she calls her ‘dark days’, On’s physician had her taking prescription painkillers, anxiety medication, antidepressants and hormone treatments for endometriosis—all at the same time.
“I was basically a zombie. I fell behind in my life. I even lost friends,” she explains. In other words, according to On, “It really sucked.”
On was spending up to a week at a time bedridden, left with only her then-husband to care for her.
Worried for her health, he suggested a solution, which, at the time, insulted her. On grew up in a home with an addict and had no tolerance for drugs. That is, until she was 24 years old.
On only remembers thinking, “I can’t handle the pain anymore. I’ll take anything to feel better. I will do anything to get my health back and to live my life again.”
Her first date with cannabis oil was seven years ago. Since that time, On has completely divorced herself from prescription painkillers.
“The relief was instant. The results were immediate,” explains On. “It’s better than any other drug I’ve been prescribed.”
Now, even in the workplace, she is an activist for medical cannabis. On feels so strongly about the cause, she has even refused job offers where they did not recognize cannabis as a medication.
On’s adolescence was stolen from her, but she refuses to surrender to the chronic pain from endometriosis ever again.
“I’m still here. I’m so much better and I have my life back. That’s the most rewarding thing about finding [it]!”