Dissecting Chemotherapy 10: No Chemo for Mom’s Breast Cancer – Wisdom of a Son

Patient is a 55-year-old female. She had a lump in her right breast and underwent a lumpectomy in June 2011. Unfortunately the job was not done well. The resected margins were not clean. Patient had to undergo another surgery and this time the whole breast had to be removed. The histopathology report confirmed an infiltrating ductal carcinoma, grade 2 with high grade DCIS (more than 25%) with 1/9 lymph nodes shows metastasis. The tumour is ER +, PR + and C-erb-B2: 2+.

After the surgery, the patient was asked to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The son persuaded the mother not to go for further medical treatments. Patient came to us and was prescribed Capsule A, Breast M and C-Tea.

On 18 October 2011, I had the opportunity to talk with the patient and her son.

You were asked to do chemo? Patient: Yes, but I didn’t want to do it.

Why? P: (Looking towards her son) He did not want me to do it.

Ha, ha, he did not want to do it, not you didn’t want to do it.

How old are you now? P: Fifty-five years old.

Son: I did not have much confidence (in what they did on her). She went for an operation and after that the doctor asked her to do chemo. Before the surgery, I asked the doctor, “What is the reason my mother has breast cancer?” The doctor replied, “No reason. If it happens, it happens.” I don’t think this was a logical enough answer because any illness must have a cause. This doctor is an expert – so famous yet that was the answer he gave me – if the cancer is going to strike you, it strikes you.

Anyway, after my mother had the mastectomy, we were referred to an oncologist. She was told to undergo six cycles of chemo and fifteen sessions of radiotherapy. The doctor said, “You go ahead and do these treatments first. Later I shall inform you what else to do.” I asked the doctor, “She had just undergone an operation, can you confirm if there are still cancer cells in her?” The reply was, “No need to ask. You must go ahead and do these treatments.”  I asked him back, “If there are no more cancer cells in her, why must my mother do chemo?” The doctor replied, “Patients overseas do the treatments. We must follow what they do. So your mother has to do the same treatments.” (Son shaking his head) I don’t  think we have to follow what others do. It is illogical. As doctors I don’t think they should say such thing – other people do, so we must also follow. After all, all of us are different.

I again asked the doctor, “ If she were to do three cycles only and she is cured – do we still have to continue to do another three?” The answer was, “No, no, you must complete the entire six cycles. We must follow the protocol.”

According to my mind, this is not the right thing to do. I again asked the doctor, “After the chemo and radiation, do we still have to do other treatments.” The doctor answered, “Yes, yes, but let us not discuss that step yet.” I countered the doctor, “Does she need  to go on receiving the treatment, one after another until  she nearly reach the point when she is about to get into the coffin before the treatment ends?”

With such answers, I told my mother the way she is going does not  seem right.

My Friend Died After Chemo for His Liver Cancer

I had a friend – my business partner. He had abdominal pains. A checkup showed liver tumour.  The doctor asked him to go for an operation to remove it. He went for a second opinion. Another doctor told him surgery would be very risky. He might not survive. He should not operate.  My friend went to seek the opinion of a third doctor.  This one said he should undergo chemotherapy. My friend asked the doctor, “But doctor you only see the scan. You did not do a biopsy.” The doctor replied, ”If I do the biopsy, I might break the liver capsule.”

The family finally decided to undergo chemotherapy but they did not have any clue as to what chemo is. After the chemo, my friend’s abdomen bloated up. He could not eat or drink. He died within a few months. I saw with my own eyes what had happened to my friend. So I told my mother, “You don’t know what chemo is and you don’t know about the side effects that the doctor told us. Let us find another path. “

Chemotherapy and Radiation May Not Cure

They asked you to go for chemo and radiation – did you ask if these will cure your mother? Son: No cure. They said the cancer can come back again. They cannot guarantee anything.

Yes, right – no one can give you any guarantee. But I am a bit baffled. Just because others (Westerners) do these, we also must follow – we must do the same thing.

Parents Value Doctor’s Opinion More Than Their Son’s

My father and mother are not well educated. They only depend on the doctors to tell them what to do. As their son, they would not listen to my opinion. They believe the doctors more. There are things I can understand,  but old folks do not understand even if you tell them. Sometimes relatives come – they give their opinions too. That complicates things even more. Uncle, auntie, neighbours come and put pressure on us. Until now, some people still come to me and asked me to send my mother for chemo. They said that so and so had chemo and was cured. But everyone of us is not the same.

I have read – there were people who died after chemo and there were people who were cure with chemo. I have read all these and told my parents about these. They responded, “Why go and read all these.” They do not  have confidence in themselves.

Oh, they don’t want to learn for themselves? They only want to hear “good things” and only think that they can win? Son: Because they only believe in what the doctors tell them. Actually most old folks behave like this.

It is All About Money First

I checked all the information I got to see if they are true or false. It all boils down to money first. Like in my friend’s case, it is all about money when they discussed his case.

CA Care Website

You visited our website and watched the videos of patients telling their stories in Youtube. Can I ask you one question  –  do you believe what they said?  Son: At least there is something in there – the information in there are better than what the doctor provided. These are real stories of people. I also want to find out if the information is true or false.

I put it to you – how sure are you that the videos are not fakes – made up stories with actors posed as patients? Someone wrote me an e-mail asking how much I paid each patient to talk or act like that? Son: That had never crossed my mind at all. No, no, I don’t have that kind of feeling at all. After all, doctors are also telling the same thing – there is no guarantee about anything. You want to do chemo or anything – there is no guarantee but money must come first. But for the side effects – that not their responsibility.

Advice to Patient

(Turning to the patient) What does your heart say Auntie? P: I never think about this at all.

Your friends or relatives may ask you to go for chemo – are you confused? P: No (shaking her head).

No one can help you except you yourself. So please take care of yourself. This is your illness. We can only guide you as what to do but you must be responsible for yourself. What I tell you may be different from what your doctors tell you. It is up to you to believe me or not. I advise you to take care of your diet. They tell you, you can eat anything you like. In addition I advise you to exercise, take the herbs and be happy – don’t think so much. 


2 thoughts on “Dissecting Chemotherapy 10: No Chemo for Mom’s Breast Cancer – Wisdom of a Son

  1. Pingback: Dissecting Chemotherapy 11: No Chemo for Dad’s Liver Cancer – Wisdom of a Daughter | CANCER STORY

  2. Pingback: Breast Cancer from KL | A Day With Chris Teo

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