Pancreatic Cancer: Severe Pains and Died After PET Scan

Yoke (not real name, H-469) was a 54-year-old female. Sometime in October 2010, she had on and off pains in her abdomen. Later, the pains extended to her lumbar region. The pains deprived her of sleep. Yoke went to a private hospital for a checkup. Ultrasound, CT scan and blood tests were carried out.

Blood test showed CEA = 38.3 (high); CA 19.9 = 40,003.44 (high); Total bilirubin = 4.6 (low) and GGT = 72 (high).

Ultrasound done on 22 November 2010 showed: “hypoechoic lesion in the pancreatic body … measuring 5.8 x 4.4 x 2.6 cm. There are multiple, well-defined hypoechoic nodules in the liver – the largest seen in the right hepatic lobe, measuring 2.5 cm. Impression: pancreatic body hypoechoic mass is likely a neoplastic lesion with metastases in the liver.”

For confirmation, a CT scan was performed the next day, 23 November 2010. The report indicated: “hypodense mass on the body / tail of the pancreas – measuring approximately 6 x 3 cm. The second hypodense nodule … is also seen more distally in the pancreatic tail. There are a number of hypodense lesions in the liver – the largest lesions are in segment 8, measuring 2.5 cm each. Other lesions are in the caudate lobe, segment 7 and segment 5.

Impression: Carcinoma of the body and tail of pancreas with infiltration of the splenic vein, encasement of the roots of the portal vein and multiple hepatic metastases.

Surgery was not indicated in this case, since the cancer had already spread to her liver. The only option left was to undergo chemotherapy. Yoke was told that she needed to receive seven weekly cycles of chemotherapy. With such treatment, Yoke was told there would be a sixty percent chance of suppressing the cancer (whatever that means?). The oncologist also said that the smaller tumours would not spread after the chemo-treatment.

Yoke refused chemotherapy. She came to seek our help on 20 November 2010. She presented with the following:

  • Pain in the abdomen and lumbar region. She had to take the painkiller, Tramadol.
  • Unable to sleep if there were pains.
  • A bit tired.

She was prescribed Capsule A and B, LL-tea, Liver 1 and Liver 2 teas, Pancreas 1 and Pancreas 2 teas, and Pain Tea.

A week on the herbs: Yoke felt more “cheng sin” (more energetic). Her sleep improved. In the first four days taking the herbs, Yoke suffered the healing crisis. She had intense pains. But the pains gradually subsided and by the fifth day the pains were gone.

Two weeks on the herbs, 10 December 2010: Yoke informed us that she had totally stopped taking the Tramadol prescribed her doctor.  She did not have any more pains but she continued taking the Pain Tea. Her sleep was good. Her appetite improved.

Three weeks on the herbs, 17 December 2010: Yoke stopped taking the Pain Tea. And she did not suffer any pain. She said she was always felt hungry after taking the herbs. Our answer to this “problem” –  go ahead and eat!

Yoke appeared to be doing well with the herbs. She was then busy making arrangements for her daughter’s wedding. We did not get to see much of Yoke for some months even though we knew that she still continued taking our herbs.

About six months later, May 2011: Yoke came to our centre and she was in severe pains. Why and what had happened?

Yoke said her friend encouraged her to go for a PET scan in order to know what was going on inside her. After all she had been doing well. So Yoke went for a whole body PET/CT scan without seeking our advice. This procedure cost her RM 4,662.

Immediately after the procedure, Yoke suffered severe pains in her abdomen and lumbar region. It was back to the same old problem again.

Let Yoke explain what had gone wrong.

Our conversation

Chris: You went to do a PET scan?

Yoke: Yes and the doctor asked me to eat meat for two days.  I was told not to eat rice, fruits, juices and vegetables. I must eat only meat, egg, mushroom and porridge. I was asked to eat these for two days before I went for the scan.

Did he tell you why you need to do that?

So that the pictures would come out clearer.

Did you suffer after taking all these food?

Yes after I took meat, I started to have pains – more pains.

How much did you have to pay?

I put in RM 5,000 and I got back RM 338 (so the cost of her PET scan was RM4,662). If I knew  all these, I would not have gone for the scan. They asked me to eat meat for two days – damn it!

But why did you go and do it in the first place>

I have a group of cancer friends. They too went for PET scan. They told me CT scan is not clear and PET scan is clearer – you will know if the cancer is active or not.

So, you follow their advice?

Yes, I was real dumb and went for it.

There is no” meaning” for you to do that!

As you had said. I had pains after that and they could not “repair” me. I had more pains and I was also not able to sleep. More problems for me.

Daughter: They said the cancer had spread to the liver.

Yes, we already knew that anyway. And they asked you to take meat?

That was why the cancer became more active.

They Asked Me to Go for Chemotherapy

They asked me to go for chemo.  But the doctor said this was not going to cure me – only maintain. The doctor also said only 25 percent of patients who had chemo lived for two years. So I asked what happened to the remaining 75 percent – “went off”?  When the cancer recurs, I would need to do more chemo.  No, no – I told the doctor I do not want any chemo. When I told him that, he ignored me – not interested to talk to me anymore.

Let me ask you this – let’s assume that you have two years to live with chemo, and you only have one year if you take herbs. Why one would you choose?

I want to take herbs. May be I might just die sooner with the chemo. I told the doctor, “I might just die while undergoing chemotherapy.” He said, “No, no such thing. I would give you the drug bit by bit.” But I did not want to hear from him anymore.

She Died Soon Afterwards

After the PET scan, Yoke had pains and these got worse by the day. She was unable to sleep or walk by herself, and became weaker. Her stomach was bloated and she was in severe pain. Finally she died not long afterwards.

Information about PET scan from the Internet

  • X-ray, CT scan and MRI show the anatomy and structure of the organs examined. In contrast, PET scan reveals the metabolic activity and function of the organs. So, X-ray. CT and MRI scans assess the size and shape of different organs in the body. They do not assess function. While a PET scan looks at the body or organ function.
  • When we go for an X-ray, x-rays are generated from a machine and these rays go through our body and an image is formed on a film. In PET scan a radioactive material, called a radiopharmaceutical or radiotracer, is injected into our bloodstream. The commonly used radiotracer is fluorodexoyglucose (FDG). This is a glucose molecule which has been tagged with a small amount of radioactive element. The radioactive glucose is taken up by cancer cells. Tissues that are active accumulate a large amount of the radiotracer and they show up as “hot spots.” Thus, hot spots indicate high level of chemical or metabolic activity. Less intense areas, or “cold spots,” indicating a smaller concentration of radiotracer and less chemical activity.
  • PET scan is now considered a new technology. It helps doctors to locate the presence of cancer/infection anywhere in the body. Because cancers are multiplying and require energy for growth, PET scan is designed to detect any mass that is growing fast. The PET scan can also detect the spread of cancer in other parts of the body.

Do you learn any lesson from Yoke’s story?

Yoke learnt her lesson the hard way. Unfortunately it was too late. But can you learn any lesson from Yoke’s experience?

Ask these questions:

  1. The doctor asked Yoke to eat meat, eggs, etc., so that the “picture” will come out clear and nice? Do you know the reason for this after reading the information above? Was he not trying to “wake up the sleeping cancer cells” to make good pictures? It is good for him but this caused more harm to the patient.
  2. What is the “useful” purpose of doing the PET scan anyway – in this case?
  3. To have supportive friends is great but some can lead you to your doom. So before you embark on something, read first. If you cannot read – ask those who really know! 

Reflect on the quotations below:

Advertisements