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412 Thrive: Samantha Moatz

How Samantha Moatz “Thrives” with Ethos Dispensary

Samantha Moatz was 23 when she was diagnosed with Stage 1B ER/PR positive breast cancer.

“I didn’t know anything about breast cancer and I didn’t know I could get it,” shared Samantha, an Ethos Dispensary patient and founder and executive director of southwestern Pennsylvania-based breast cancer support group 412 Thrive. She had no family history of breast cancer, and no female members of her family tested positive for the genetic mutation known as BRCA that increases the possibility of developing breast cancer.

“The fact is: young women do get breast cancer, and 80% of those who are diagnosed have no family history,” Samantha said. “I unexpectedly noticed a lump one day, and my heart sank immediately into my stomach. I knew, without knowing anything about breast cancer, that it was breast cancer.”

Eight days later – during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Samantha points out – she underwent a lumpectomy, after which she received confirmation that the removed tumor was indeed cancerous. And while the lumpectomy was a success and the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes, many infections followed – along with 16 more surgeries.

“People ask me if there was ever a time I thought I was going to die, and it wasn’t the cancer – it was the infections,” Samantha said.

The side effects of Samantha’s treatments post-mastectomy were devastating. Radiation treatment triggered constant vomiting, while frequent hospitalizations for infections decimated her appetite. Breast cancer treatments left her dangerously underweight – until she became a medical marijuana patient.

“Medical marijuana literally saved my life”

Samantha shared that her appetite was so affected that she did not fit into adult-sized clothing.

“People don’t know how miserable it is to no longer have an appetite,” she said. “Your body needs fuel, and you can’t do what your body needs you to do. I was skin and bones.”

Samantha tried medical marijuana. She said she successfully ate some broth 20 minutes later. By the end of the night, she asked a friend to bring her Taco Bell.

“I went from not being able to swallow water in the hospital to eating how I wanted,” Samantha said.

For Samantha, medical marijuana has had a profound positive effect on every aspect of her life during and after treatment. Not only did medical marijuana help her regain an appetite, but it helped manage the chronic pain that traces back to her cancer treatment and other qualifying conditions she has. Samantha also credits medical marijuana with helping her manage anxiety and depression that stem from her diagnosis.

“When I underwent a surgery that removed my nipple – I initially underwent a nipple-sparing mastectomy – I fell into a deep depression,” Samantha said,

Today, Samantha said medical marijuana helps her manage the heavy emotions that come with being a breast cancer “thriver” – an umbrella term that describes anyone living with a breast cancer diagnosis at any stage.

“There comes a certain amount of sadness that comes with running an organization where members get very sick or die,” Samantha said. “Medical marijuana helps calm me down, so I can hold my tears back when I have to.”

Becoming an Ethos patient – and Ethos Cares partner

Samantha is the founder and executive director of 412 Thrive. The organization offers breast cancer support groups to those undergoing treatment, those in remission, and “previvors,” or those who are genetically predisposed to breast cancer and make difficult healthcare choices as a result. The group has grown to serve and support 350 breast cancer thrivers.

“The first thing people ask me about is mental health resources; the second is how they can get their medical marijuana card,” Samantha said.

A medical marijuana success story herself, Samantha saw an opportunity to connect thrivers with resources who can help them get treatment. She started with Ethos – Hamarville, her go-to dispensary located across the street from her physical therapist. 

At first, Samantha asked Ethos staff questions about products on behalf of a friend in hospice for breast cancer. Those interactions introduced her to a team of caring folks who wanted to go the extra mile for patients. So as Breast Cancer Awareness Month approached, Samantha and the staff at Ethos Hamarville found ways to support one another – both by offering practical support and raising funds for 412 Thrive.

“I feel like patients are like family, and I’m glad that we can help out a member of our family during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” according to Ethos – Hamarville Shift Lead Steven Wilson. 

Samantha’s foundation hosted its first wellness retreat in October 2022, featuring yoga, therapists, and a session on medical marijuana. Steve, along with Ethos- Hamarville pharmacists Tammy Marraway and Canyon Hopkins, presented thrivers with their product options, answered questions, and explained to attendees how they can obtain their medical marijuana card.

“We had dozens of women sign up to ask questions about all the ways medical marijuana can help, from radiation burn to neuropathy to chemo side effects,” Samantha said.

In turn, Ethos dispensaries in the greater Pittsburgh area selected 412 Thrive to be the recipient of proceeds from the Ethos Cares program for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Customers can round up their purchase or elect to contribute at checkout. Ethos Dispensary also plans to match all donations up to $25,000 this month.

“There are millions of women in the U.S. who are affected by breast cancer, and they need practical support along with services that help their physical and emotional well-being,” said [Name of COO], Chief Operating Officer, Ethos Dispensary. “By matching donations up to $25,000, we are amplifying the impact of Ethos Cares in a significant way.”

For Samantha, the support from Ethos Dispensary is deeply personal, touching the diagnosis that upended her life and the plant that helped her get through the most difficult days.

“We have women who are 22 all the way up to 90 who are involved with 412 Thrive, and showing them that medical marijuana can help will make a profound difference in their lives,” Samantha said.

For more information about 412 Thrive, visit

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