Tan /b979, was a 72 year-old male who had been smoking for the last fifty-plus years. Sometime in December 2003, he expelled out sticky, blood-stained phlegm. A bronchoscopy indicated lung cancer, stage 3B. There was a 15 x 24 mm nodule in the right hilum. It was situated less than 2 cm from the carina.
The doctor told him that it would be good enough if he could live for six months. Another doctor told him that he could last for only a few months. This being so, he declined chemotherapy.
He and his children came to see us on 2 January 2004 and at that time he was suffering from tobacco-withdrawal syndrome. As a result he was on Nicorette, nicotine-containing inhaler instead of cigarette.
He presented with no pain, poor appetite and was unable to sleep well. He had diarrhea. He was breathless due to the presence of stubborn phlegm embedded in the bottom of his throat. This made him very tired.
Since Tan had no other avenue left, he and his children held onto us for all possible help. I must admit I too experienced much stress because of this. Every week, Tan or one of his sons, would come and report the progress of his illness. Fortunately for us, Tan was a very pleasant, lovable person and was ever ready to follow instructions.
A week on the herbs, Tan had pulling sensation in the chest. There was no more diarrhoea. In the second week, the pulling sensation in the chest disappeared. He became more energetic. There was less blood in the phlegm. However, there was one serious problem – the sticky, stubborn phlegm in the base of the throat just refused to come out. This made Tan become breathless and he wheezed.
I prescribed him various phlegm and cough-with-phlegm herbs but none seemed to work. Then we tried the three types of Lung-coughs teas. Fortunately Lung-cough 2 made him better but it did not solve the problem of the stubborn phlegm. I felt helpless. I suggested that he see a doctor and ask for Ventolin inhaler. He did as suggested. The inhaling of Ventolin eased the problem but he was back to same to the same problem again after a few days.
Then, I suggested that perhaps chemotherapy was the only answer. Tan smiled! But he was not prepared to do that just yet.
I felt real sorry for Tan but what else could I do to help? Then, I told Tan – I shall now go home and read the books and see what the Wise Men of China had to say. I read whatever I could get hold of about phlegm. I concocted two special formulations based on my reading. The first formulation helped but only gave a transient effect. The problem came back after a few hours.
On 22 March 2004, I gave Tan Phlegm-Cold to try. I was extremely happy to see him walked into the centre a few days later. He looked better and was more radiant. His breathing was better. The herbs worked for him. I could see the improvement.
On 2 April 2004, Tan came in again. The stubborn phlegm was gone.
In July 2004, Tan had to be hospitalized because of severe breathlessness. He had to be given oxygen for his lungs had collapsed. After a few days, he bounced back to life again. He was able to came and see us again. But later his condition continued to deteriorate again.
On 5 December 2004, it was a great surprise that a young boy came to our centre to collect herbs for Tan. He is Tan’s grandson. He told us that Tan was doing very well. He would wake up in the early morning and walked to the market to buy vegetables. He liked to cook for the family. He could drive and even had the energy to scold his grandchildren!
Tan died in his sleep in March 2005 without any suffering.
Tan lived a year and four months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. His doctor gave him six months, at most.