Portland native Dawn Ann Pugh is a cancer survivor. The mother of two is a passionate supporter of integrative and alternative treatments, including medicinal cannabis.
I recently had a conversation with Pugh via email to learn more about her diagnosis, and how she uses her platform to help others fight today.
The Portland Beacon (TPB): Can you tell me a bit about your decision to start Firstlightahealingway.com?
Dawn Ann Pugh (DAP): My website, First Light, A Healing Way (www.firstlightahealingway.com), was originally started under the domain name “With the Crack of Dawn”. The name was a play on my name, Dawn. It began with the Facebook page, and then the interest and inquiries inspired my website. I was always a morning person and thought the name was appropriate since I would usually be up early posting new information bright and early. When the domain for With the Crack of Dawn expired, we though that First Light, A Healing Way was a great replacement for the website name.
This is why the webpage and Facebook page have different names. Facebook would not allow me to update the name of my page due to them thinking that the name was misleading to consumers. My Facebook page, With the Crack of Dawn is a bit different than my webpage. I try to stay updated with the newest information as it is made available, but I also like to lighten things up with some fun posts as well. Highlights like #SundayFunnies offer humor, while still keeping up to date with breast cancer, healthy living, exercise, and accurate cannabis news. I also like to include hometown business events and happenings. Facebook covers a broad base from around the nation, and other countries. I figure that sharing any local business is good business for Portland.
TPB: What are your main goals in operating the site today?
DAP: I began First Light, A Healing Way to be a resource for others that may have faced similar choices and challenges that can come with receiving a cancer diagnosis. I was diagnosed with multiple breast cancers in 2014. I was 39. I discovered that the small lumps I had been observing in my right breast turned into 2 very obvious larger lumps in a matter of hours. Later I found out I had other breast cancers bilaterally as well. In 2014, I could not find many current, let alone reliable sources of information on alternative and integrative cancer treatment choices. So, I decided to blog in hopes of helping others on their journeys. Writing blog posts has been a very therapeutic experience, albeit challenging. It has been a helpful way to vent, or just share my experiences with others. Also, a great way to get feedback, and share support and networking events. Having a reference for patients to go back to for information repeatedly has been my primary focus with the website. I wanted other patients and caregivers to know that there are other options available, or to use in addition to what is presented in most Western medicine doctor practices. Other more natural options. Healthy living overhauls.
It was also created for me to refer patients, family, and friends to when they may have questions on integrative cancer treatments. I am contacted daily by patients and their loved ones concerning the how, what, where, and why pertaining to cannabis medicine. Getting loads of messages daily is fine, but answering them all in a timely fashion became almost impossible. It takes time to answer everyone thoroughly. It can also be trying mentally to field concerns from folks going through one of the worst times in their life, getting a cancer diagnosis, or having a loved one receive one. For many, going to a provisioning center for the first time can be a scary, intimidating experience as well. Especially after a diagnosis or traumatic health event. I walk them through the process to make it less intimidating. Less scary. People need information in a timely manner, and this has been the fastest way to get them the answers they need. Having the website available usually lets patients find answers to the most frequently asked questions conveniently from the privacy of their home. Of course, every case is different, so I try to personally address whatever that patient or caregivers’ needs may be. I am not a doctor, but I have been blessed with much experience with cannabis medicines personally, and with many other patients. I am teaching my many specialists about cannabis. I have knowledgeable contacts and resources available for a wide range of questions and needs. It could be anything. Ranging from how to get your medical cannabis card here in Michigan, finding patients a caregiver, to cannabis dosing recommendations for specific needs such as cancer, or seizure disorders.
TPB: How did the diagnosis and the disease impact your career?
DAP: Prior to my cancer diagnosis, I was an expanded functions dental assistant at a progressive office. I loved my job, and enjoyed a career for over 20 years. I am still not able to perform my job since treatment. Both physically, or cognitively. Personally, it has been one of my biggest challenges. But being a mom is my favorite job by far. My two daughters keep me busy with their schedules. My oldest even helps proof read posts for me. It takes so much time for me to write, correct, and maintain my blog, but it is important to me to share good information, and good energy. It may seem like it has been awhile since a new post, but chronic illness doesn’t care about what you think you can do on a daily basis. I try to add to posts as I feel up to it, save them, and eventually they get done. There are only so many spoons in a day. Constant patient questions keep me inspired to help others in any way that I can. I try to add blog posts that answer frequently asked questions for cancer patients, and survivors. The main focus of my webpage is support. You can find links to find support groups specific to each patient via social media. There are also valuable local groups listed that can assist patients as they go through treatment. The Capital Area Young Survivors are a great example of support in our area. Support it a crucial part of dealing with any cancer diagnosis. My hope is to not let anyone feel like they are going through cancer or chronic illness alone, no matter what route of treatment they take.
If there is something that I cannot answer myself, I will try my best to get the answer for them or provide resources for them to find the information themselves.
I have included information that I wish I had known prior to treatment, new information, and helpful information on integrative and alternative treatments available. Whole body health. Medicinal essential oils, teas, dietary habits, healthy living, medicinal cannabis, tips for those going through treatment, or those choosing to treat their conditions with other “alternative” routes of medicine.
TPB: Is there anything else you would like readers to know about?
DAP: This is not my job, but I after 20+ years of patient care in my bones, I am just as serious when it comes to helping others whenever I am able. Especially after dealing with cancers myself. Cannabis is medicinal and should be respected as so and used responsibly. For many like myself, cannabis medicine has been lifesaving. I have seen miracles. I feel like we are given different paths for a reason. If sharing what I have learned with others can save anyone else from learning the hard way, I have accomplished much. One less surgery, fewer prescription medicines, and more days with loved ones. Better quality of life. I hope people continue to reference, and refer their friends and family to First Light, A Healing Way for updated information in the future. I am always open to serving up new topics that followers may be interested in.
You can also find our posts on LinkedIn, Reddit, Tumblr, Wordpress, Path, and Facebook’s With the Crack of Dawn page.
Photos courtesy of Dawn Pugh. Photo one if Dawn Pugh. Photo two is Dawn with Landon Riddle, a pediatric leukemia survivor, during the Cancer and Cannabis Symposium last year. Dawn said, “He is the first pediatric case to have been deemed ‘cured’ by cannabis. He is 6 years out since almost dying with chemotherapy treatment. Using only cannabis and healthy living.”