Acknowledgment: Permission to use this video without having to hide her identity is granted by the patient.
This is a bitter-sweet story of Le, a 37-year-old female from Indonesia. She came to us on 14 October 2011 after having been diagnosed with breast cancer that had probably spread to her lungs. She presented with aches and pains throughout her body, especially the joints. She could not bend her fingers. She could not sleep well and she had coughs.
1. My 42-year-old friend with breast cancer died after chemotherapy
Le: My friend also had breast cancer like me. She died after two years. She went to Singapore to find the best medicine for her breast cancer. It started with just a tiny tumour. She had it removed and then underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She was okay. Then the cancer spread to her bones. They installed a chemo-port in her and she continued to receive more chemo. She took the best “bird nests” to help her cope with the side effects of chemo. After this chemo, there were spots all over her skin.
Are you sure? Was she you friend? Le: Yes. Even with such effects she continued to receive more chemos. In total she had 38 cycles of chemotherapy. After that she looked okay, okay but her nails were all dark. Then the cancer went to her backbone and spread to her brain. Then she continued with radiotherapy and more chemo in Surabaya. She died.
How old was she? Le: Forty-two.
I fully understand, I understand.
2. Four of my friends already died after medical treatments
Le: Four of my friends already died of cancer. Two of them had breast cancer, one had colon cancer and the other one had cancer of the uterus.
They were all your friends? Le: Yes, they died. They were all below their 50s. And they all had operation and chemotherapy.
They all died, and because of this you decided not to go for an operation and chemo? When did this happen – while you had your cancer? Le: When I had my breast cancer and they also had their cancers.
Oh, at the same time. They took a different road and you took a different path? Le: Yes, exactly.
I understand. I fully understand you. That is the reason why I did not want to push anybody who come here to go for chemo or radiation. The stories you have told me are being repeated over and over.
3. Uncle died after spending 6 Billion Rupiahs
Le: My uncle had lung cancer. He went to Singapore for treatment. In all, he spent 6 miliar (billion) rupiahs. He also died. After so many chemos, even the veins in his arm seemed to disappear. He did not take care of his diet. He ate anything he liked. At the same time, I also had my cancer. He told me to eat what I liked but I refused to listen to his advice.
And your uncle died? Le: Yes, died after three years.
And at the same time, you also had your cancer. And is it because of this that you did not want to go for medical treatment? Le: No, no. There is a feeling inside me wanting to reject chemo. These people did not die because of their cancers. They died because of their chemos. Their haemoglobin, platelets and white blood cells were all down and gone!
I understand you, I truly understand. But what I want to say is we should not totally reject medical treatments. At times we need the doctors to help us. We can use certain things that doctors do to help us. And we can reject those that are harmful to us. This is what I would tell patients.
4. See what happened to me now when I believed the doctor!
Le: I would agree to go to the doctors to check where my tumour is. But if they prescribe medication, I would not take it. See this is what happened to me – this is the evidence! This is the first time I believed the doctor and this is what I get (figures unable to bend and later unable to walk after taking Tamoxifen for a month).
Read her full story: