Breast Lump: Sister died – And did she ever learned from this tragedy?

PG (M995) is a 50-year-old Indonesian. For the past ten years, she had been living with lumps in her right breast. She went for massage hoping the lumps would go away. They did not. The lumps grew bigger instead. In early 2011, PG had pulling sensation. She took medication from a Chinese sinseh. This did not help. She finally came to a private hospital in Penang.

USG of her right breast done on 5 July 2011 showed:

  1. An irregular, 2.3 x 1.9 cm soft tissue mass at 8 o’clock position. Two small satellite lesions (0.4 cm and 0.9 x 0.3 cm) were noted adjacent to the mass.
  2. An irregular, 1.5 x 1.3 cm mass at 10 o’clock position.
  3. Two axillary nodes, 0.9 x 0.6cm and 1.3 x 0.7 cm.

Impression: Two irregular masses at 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock are suggestive of Ca breast.

PG came to seek our help on 8 July 2011.  Watch this video.



Transcription of our conversation:

Chris: Your sister had similar problem – breast cancer?

PG: Yes, same problem.

C: She had lumps in her breast – did she go for operation?

PG: No. the lump burst. There was wound. It was painful. Then she had an operation.

C:  That was a bit too late. What happened after the operation?  Did any radiation or chemo?

PG: No. She died – today operate, tomorrow died.

C: So if you follow the same path that your sister took – you do not do anything now – your lump will also burst. You will have a lot of pain. That will be too late. Even if you operate after that, you will die like your sister. Do you understand what I am trying to tell you? What I am trying to tell you is – you have to remove the lumps in your breast before they grow bigger and burst. It is best that you remove the whole breast.

PG: You want to have it removed totally?

C: Yes, remove everything. There are many lumps in your breast. 1 + 2 + 1 lumps in the breast and 2 lumps in the arm pit. In total you have 6 lumps. I don’t believe that you can make them disappear by just taking herbs.  Later, these lumps will grow bigger and bigger and then burst. If you come when that happens it will be too late. So if I were you, I would operate the whole breast now. You don’t die by removing you breast.

PG: When I operate, it will come back again?

C: Yes, for some people that can happen. That is why doctors ask you to do chemo and radiation. (Knowing that patients are scared of chemo or radiation. Chris added). Let me tell you this. After the operation, if you are afraid of chemo or radiation, you can come back and see me again. I shall teach you how to take care of yourself. You can take herbs, take care of your diet, etc. If you don’t want to do chemo, I am not going to force you to do it.

The reason why I ask you to go for operation is that I am afraid as the lumps start to grow bigger and bigger they will burst. There will be a hole in your breast. It is going to be difficult. Then you have to have it removed anyway. So why wait for this to happen? It would be too late if that happens.

Son: What if she does not the operation and just takes your herbs?

C: Oh, if I can do that, I would not have asked you to go for surgery! Everyone who comes here wants to do that. Better still – why not ask me to just “blow” on you and your lumps disappear? That is the best way! But I cannot make your lumps disappear. I am here not trying to mislead anybody. I am here to help you because I am afraid you will die if you don’t have the lumps removed. Many patients from Indonesia come to me. I ask all of them to go for surgery.

Son: Okay, after surgery, we shall tell the doctor that we don’t want any chemo or radiation.

C: You don’t have to talk much or go into such detail. The first thing to do is get it removed. The one who cuts you is not the same person who is going to give you the chemo or radiation. Take note of whatever suggestions your doctor gave but first thing is to get the breast removed. One or two weeks after surgery, you can come back and see me, if you like. Bring all the medical reports.

PG: I am going home to Indonesia tomorrow.

C: What do you want to do in Indonesia? If I were you, delay your return trip for a day or two. Go and consult these two doctors in the hospitals. Make preliminary preparation for your surgery. Ask them how much it would cost, etc. Then you go home.  If the doctor insist that you do the operation immediately, let him know that you need to go home first to prepare your money for the treatment.

As it is now, you fly home tomorrow.  Then you come back again? Ask around and then go home again? And then fly back again for the operation? Why not spend a day or two now to go to Lam Wah Ee Hospital and Loh Guan Lye Hospital and ask the doctors there about the cost of the operation and what else to do?

Comments:  There is a saying, Only fools learn from experience, the wise learn from the experiences of others. Granted, by the way she presented herself, PG is not an “educated” woman. But a wise person need not be educated!  Her sister suffered the same problem like her – and did PG ever learn anything from that tragedy? It is yet another tragedy if she does not.

Each of us lived our lives differently. Some see the glass half empty, while others see the glass half full. When faced with a problem, we have that choice to be negative or positive. If we want to do something, we have all the reasons to do so but if we don’t want to do something we can also find all the reason not to do it.

There is one mind-bogging fact that I learn when dealing some patients from Indonesia. Many of them come to Penang in search for a cure for their cancers. They checked into the hospitals and undergo scanning procedures, biopsies, etc. When all are done the doctors suggested a treatment regimen.  They back out. They refuse surgery, chemo, radiotherapy or medication. The pack off and go home the next day! I often ask aloud – why spend all the money and time to go through all these preliminary investigations if you don’t want any treatment?  PG went to see a doctor who did the preliminary investigation. Then she came to see us. The next morning she wanted to go home without wanting to do anything. What is the whole idea? It baffles me. And such case happens very often.