The Ai Hoa (TAH) is a 78 year old lady from Indonesia. In May 2008 she had chocolate-coloured vaginal discharge. She consulted a gynaecologist and was told there was nothing wrong. In February 2009, the discharge recurred. She consulted another gynaecologist and was again told the same story – nothing was wrong.
Her daughter brought TAH to Singapore for further consultation. A PAP smear done on 16 March 2009 indicated high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) / CIN 3.
A biopsy of the cervical tissue was performed and indicated microinvasive squamous cell carcinoma.
A PET-CT scan on 23 March 2009 indicated a hypermetabolic FDG avid cervical mass with diffusely increased uterine avidity which was inseparable from the uterus and the upper part of the vagina. There was multiple FDG avid left iliac, aortocaval, recto-caval and bilateral paraaortic lymph nodes consistent with metastasis. There was no evidence of peritoneal or liver metastases.
Blood test results on 24 March 2009 showed normal hemogram with an ESR of 25 mm/hr. The renal and liver function tests were normal but LDH was 210 (normal <190). Her CEA was 6.9 (n<5) and CA 125 was 124 (n<35). HBsAg was reactive.
TAH was referred to another doctor for evaluation of her elevated CEA and HBsAg. She underwent endoscopy of her GI tract on 26 Match 2009. The result showed normal oesophagus but antral gastritis was noted. She was tested positive for Helicobacter pylori. Colonoscopy showed numerous small sessile polyps in the rectum. On biopsy it showed hyperplasic / metplastic polyps. She was started on Baraclude (entecavir) for her hepatitis B (carrier).
Bone scan on 28 April 2009 showed increased tracer uptake in the midline of the upper sacrum as well as the left sacral ala, most probably due to degenerative changes, unlikely due to bony metastasis.
On 25 March 2009, TAH underwent concurrent chemo-radiation. TAH received 28 times of radiation treatment and 3 times of brachytherapy (internal). Each chemo treatment was repeated weekly. The drugs used were cisplatin and 5-FU. After four doses of chemo (to receive a total of 8) TAH developed significant myelosuppression (lowering of white and red blood cells). Chemotherapy was suspended temporarily.
Cost of Treatment
Not counting other costs, TAH had to pay a total of at least S$ 24,700 for her treatments in Singapore. The breakdown is as follows:
Radiation S$17, 000
Brachytherapy (internal radiation) S$ 4,500
Chemotherapy S$ 3,200
Health Worsened After Treatments in Singapore
Chris: When did she complete all her treatments in Singapore?
Daughter: 16 May 2009 and we went home to Indonesia.
With the treatment, was she getting better? Better than before?
No. She felt nauseous and tired. She was not able to sit up for long and had pains in her back.
Before the treatment in Singapore how was mom’s condition? Good or bad?
She was healthy.
Before her treatment and after her treatment – was there any difference?
Yes, different. She was worse off after her treatment in Singapore.
You spent all the money and what happened then?
She was more tired.
What’s the whole meaning then?
Mom did not want to continue with the treatment any more. But the doctor said, “No, no, you cannot stop. You need to add more blood.” So we were confused.
Did you think mother would die if she was to continue with the treatment?
What happened during the chemo? Did she suffer?
It was difficult. She felt nauseous, she had difficulty eating. She had no strength to talk.
She was already 75 years old. I would not do that if she was my mother.
The radiologist in Singapore told us, “If she was my mother I would also give her the radiation.”
Oh yes, of course. If you go to a barber he will definitely tell you to cut your hair!
I did tell the radiologist that mom was already old but he kept insisting that if mom was his mother, he would do the same. Because he is a doctor, we believed him. But when I went home, I started to look for alternatives. That was when I found your book. In fact, the radiologist said that when we return to continue with the chemo, most probably mom would need to undergo another 20 times of radiation if the lymph nodes were still swollen. No, mom did not want to return to Singapore for treatment anymore.
Every half-hour Juice Therapy – almost fainted
On her return to Indonesia, TAH went on a 21-day-JuiceTherapy offered by an alternative practitioner. She had to drink all kinds of juices every half an hour. She almost fainted while on the therapy and gave this up.
Found CA Care
Her daughter read our book, Kanker: Mengapa Mereka Hidup (the Indonesian version of Cancer: Why They Live). This led her to CA Care. She obtained herbs from Pak Teddy in Jakarta. After four weeks on the herbs TAH felt better. Her facial expression improved, frequency of her urination lessen. She could sit in her daughter’s bread shop for one whole morning. Previously she could not do so even for half an hour and had to go upstairs and lie down.
Her daughter flew to see us in Penang on 19 July 2009. Below is the video recording on that day.
4 April 2010 – TAH and her daughter came to Penang
After taking the herbs for about ten months, TAH came to visit us for the first time, accompanied by her daughter. She presented with the following problems:
- She felt “heaty” inside her abdomen.
- Her urination was very frequent – 7 to 8 times per night and this disturbed her sleep.
- She had incontinence.
- She had cramps in her legs if standing for too long.
- The soles of her feet felt “thick”.
- She had pains in the joints of her fingers.
- Her stomach felt bloated and this caused discomforts.
Mama, how did you feel after taking the herbs?
D: Most people who saw her were saying she looked better.
TAH: I felt my backbone was better after taking the Bone Tea. I took care of my diet – I do not take fish, any meat or chicken. Do I have to keep to this diet until I die?
I am not sick but I also take care of my diet. I don’t want to wait until I get sick before I start to take care of my diet.
D: But she is not putting on weight?
Do you want to put on weight? Many Indonesians who come here are like that – complaining about not being able to grow fatter! But I tell them – You are not a pig or a cow. If you need to sell yourself by the kilos then go ahead and become fat. What is important to you is that you are healthy – with no problem. If you can eat, can sleep, can walk or move around and have no pains – what else do you want? You will put on weight later but it takes time. Be patient. You are already 76 years old now and you look good. Take it easy.
TAH: You have helped so many people!
Now, let me ask. There is this patient in the same place that you come from. Many patients came to see me because of her – she is doing well. She has a bread shop or something like that.
D: Yes, that is us – we have a bread shop. After our treatment in Singapore, mama always felt nauseous and tired. She had to sleep upstairs. Now, she is able to help take care of the shop.
Let me ask you to reflect seriously on the following:
- With all the modern technology of medical science – PAP smear, biopsy, CT scan, PET scan, bone scan, endoscopy, colonoscopy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy and chemotherapy – how did TAH ended up? Indeed these procedures may or may not be necessary, but do you ever wonder if all these are the answers to her problem? Well, she even ended up being prescribed Baraclude for hepatitis! What does that tell you?
- TAH was already 75 years old – if she was your mother and if you were an expert in radiotherapy and chemotherapy – would you subject her to such treatments? The Singapore radiologist said yes! Do you buy that?
3. Before undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy do you want to know what the side effects of these treatments are? If you want to know – why don’t you ask the doctors? But whatever they say must always be counter checked with the information found in the internet. After having gone through the list of side effects then use your commonsense and ask this question – Do these treatments make sense to you?
What are the side effects of radiation (external) and brachytherapy (internal radiation)?
In the cancer forum, many ladies wrote about their experiences. Here are some examples:
- My mom had 2 brachytherapy treatments. A couple of weeks after the treatments she was complaining of some discomfort in her back.
- I had 3 brachytherapy sessions and the side effects I had were – some bleeding for a few days after each session, lack of energy and needing to sleep more than usual.
- Despite being told of the possible side effects of my radiation treatment, I found I wasn’t truly prepared. I was told I would experience issues with my bowels. I did and still do, one and one-half years later. I first experienced “loose” bowels about four weeks into treatment. For months after radiation I had lower back and leg aches. No one could truly offer an explanation for it, but I sense that much of what I felt was nerve and tissue damage. Bending or squatting down was especially painful.
- I also had three days of internal radiation and that contributed to what is called ‘stenosis’ or vaginal scarring.
- I found my tummy was upset in the beginning. About eight months after treatment, I had rectal bleeding and feeling of ‘blockage’ that turned out to be chronic inflammation due to radiation.
- During the last two weeks of my external radiation treatments, I experienced diarrhea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. I had occasional vaginal itchiness. I have developed a problem with stress incontinence (urinary leakage when sneezing, coughing etc). My radiation oncologist told me the radiation has damaged the sphincter.
- I feel that the side-effects were definitely minimized, almost to the point of lying. I can understand that they don’t wish to scare you with all sorts of rare complications, but I would rather have been “given the straight goods”, so to speak, on the more likely ones. I was told that the internal radiation treatments would probably cause some temporary and mild bladder and bowel problems. I started experiencing minor bladder irritation immediately after the first radiation treatment, and also had mild diarrhea. Five years after the treatments, I still have “funny” bowels – when I have to go, I usually have to go *NOW*, sometimes several times a day, and “normal” seems to be everything from loose to constipated. I didn’t realize this was after-effects from radiation until I found other women on the internet who’d also had radiation and were having the same symptoms. I felt tired and “draggy” for a couple of months after my treatments. I also underwent menopause, at age thirty-four. Symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes, inability to concentrate, and moodiness, increased in intensity for several months until I finally realized what was going on. The radiation also caused some scarring in my vagina.
Side Effects of Brachytherapy
- Digestive disorders like loose stools, stomach upset.
- Urinary incontinence.
- Dryness in the vaginal canal, vaginal soreness and bleeding etc.
- There are also many side effects that can cause permanent damage to the reproductive organs such as the vaginal canal becomes very narrow because of the radiation treatment. The length of the vaginal cavity is also shortened due to the procedure, rendering sex very painful and uncomfortable.
- Menopause too is sometimes accelerated as a result of brachytherapy.
- Another important side effect of brachytherapy is loss of bone density.
Side Effects of Cisplatin
- Increased risk of getting an infection from a drop in white blood cells.
- Tiredness and breathlessness due to a drop in red blood cells.
- Bruising more easily due to a drop in platelets.
- Fatigue during and after treatment and feeling or being sick.
- Cisplatin can cause kidney damage.
- Hearing loss, especially with high-pitched sounds.
- Ringing in the ears.
- Loss of appetite.
- Loss of taste or a metallic taste.
- Numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes resulting in difficulty with fiddly things.
- Allergic reactions such as skin rashes, itching, feeling hot, shivering, redness of the face, feeling dizzy, headache, shortness of breath, anxiety or a sudden need to pass urine.
- Muscle cramps.
- Fast heartbeat (during or shortly after a dose)
- Lower back or side pain accompanied by fever or chills
- Joint pain
- Blurred vision
Side Effects of 5-FU
• Sore mouth.
• Taste changes.
• Eye problems.
• Skin changes.
• Risk of infection, bruising and bleeding due to low blood counts.
• Tiredness or fatigue.
• Feeling sick or nausea and vomiting.
• Hair loss.
• Nail changes.
• Sun sensitivity.
• Soreness and redness of palms of hand and soles of feet.
• Chest pains and tightening across the centre of chest.
Reflect on the quotations below:
We wish to thank TAH and her family for giving us the permission to tell her story and use the videos above. And this is Ai Hoa at age 78! At this time she is doing well indeed – and her health is reflected in these pictures. She has been almost three years on CA Care’s herbs.