What is it about hearing the iconic Vince Guaraldi / Lee Mendelson tune, Christmas Time Is Here, that almost instantly evokes childhood memories of the holidays, snowflakes and of course – A Charlie Brown Christmas?
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or simply enjoy the change of season from fall to winter, December is a special time for many of us.
At United Patients Group, the ongoing hustle and bustle of providing information and support for patients and others seeking insight and guidance on medical cannabis seems to have no particular season. Since launching our company nearly five years ago, we’ve come to the realization that individuals seeking alternative treatment options for themselves or a loved one, are hungry for relevant, reliable information. No matter the time of year, our goal remains to be that “virtual hand” – providing up-to-the-minute access to resources and information to people all across the country, and around the world. However, at this time of year, we do take pause and reflect upon how truly grateful we are for having the rare opportunity to do work that we hope makes a positive impact on the lives of others.
It’s very easy for most of us to get caught up in the day-to-day, often going through our work and our daily routines, sometimes forgetting why we do what we do, or whom we do it for.
So, as this year winds to a close, we thought we would share with all of you, why we at United Patients Group do what we do. Our story was born out of a situation that many (if not most) of the visitors to our site are going through as well. A tragic commonality that for us, has had a remarkable outcome and given us the impetus to help others.
Before United Patients Group began, there was simply a family that had been hit with devastating news. The beloved family patriarch, Stan Rutner, had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain and was given just two weeks to live.
John Malanca, our founder, was a new member to the Rutner family. His soon-to-be future wife, Corinne was one of Stan’s three daughters. Stan had raised his family in Marin County California – a local dentist for over 40 years.
As the family sat together in the oncologist’s office at Kaiser Permanente – the prognosis for Stan was sobering. The doctor’s felt they had done all they could do for him and he was given two weeks to live.
Up to that time, John Malanca had worked in branding, marketing, and advertising. His experience included time spent in the magazine industry as well as dot-com companies. He, like many others, had begun to hear the stories of how cannabis was showing promising results in some cancer patients. Unfamiliar with cannabis beyond the sub-culture reputation of the plant, cannabis was not something John knew much about.
“So the family is sitting in Stan’s oncologist’s office. I’m looking around me at the
bewildered face of my then-fiancé, Corinne – and could see the disbelief on the faces of the entire family. I had lost my own father recently, so their pain was something I could deeply understand. “It was then, out of desperation that so many others can relate to when a loved one is given such a dire prognosis, that Malanca blurted out to the doctors “what about medical cannabis?”.
The family took their father home, trying to make him as comfortable as possible. He was on oxygen and was quickly wasting away – having no appetite.
John and Corinne plunged into the unknown depths of the medical cannabis world. Searching for answers on whether medical cannabis could possibly help to get Stan’s appetite to improve. Anything to help him to keep his strength up and possibly stay with them for even a bit longer. Like thousands of others, the cannabis industry was a confusing maze sometimes leading to dead-ends, misinformation or even frightening conclusions.
“Corinne and I had never been a part of the cannabis lifestyle. We knew that California had legalized it for medicinal use, but at that time, due to our lack of education, we assumed places like dispensaries were more for recreational purposes”. Finding trustworthy and knowledgeable individuals that could credibly assist them in obtaining cannabis for their father’s spiraling medical condition was bewildering. “We just started to comb through as much information as we possibly could get our hands on. At the end of the day, we really only had our gut instincts to guide us in what we thought could possibly help Stan.”
They started giving Stan coconut capsules infused with ‘raw’ cannabis. Almost immediately his appetite began to return. As John characterized it, his father-in-law began “eating like a teenager”. Soon, the oxygen tanks were put into the closet. And never pulled out again.
Several months passed, and Stan was most definitely showing signs of not only
surviving, but thriving. John recalls that Stan came to him and Corinne one day and said “if medical cannabis can help me feel so much better, maybe it can truly help me treat the cancer” and asked for their help.
John and Corinne put their sleuth hats on once again and this time sought out how to correctly dose the oil not just to help their father with his appetite and pain, but to start attacking the cancer.
The result? Stan Rutner recently had his sixth lung and brain scan and they’ve all come back with no evidence of recurrent disease. Stan turned 82 years YOUNG this past September!
We are truly grateful, that out of this potential tragedy, came not only hope and health for Stan, but the life’s work that we now are fortunate enough to pursue daily with United Patients Group.
So, this holiday season, whether snow is falling outside your home, or the familiar tunes of A Charlie Brown Christmas are playing on the radio, our hope is that your heart, and those of your loved ones, are full of inspiration and encouragement that the year to come will be one filled with health, happiness and joy.
Happy Holidays from all of us at United Patients Group!