On 16 November 2012, I had a chance to sit down for a chat with Henry (not real name). This is our conversation that day.
Let me highlight some of things that we talked about that day.
Henry has four sisters in his family. Sister No:1 was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 2010. She was the third member of the family to have cancer. Sister No:3 had breast cancer about ten years ago. She was the first member of the family to have cancer. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and died within a year. Then Sister No: 4 had breast cancer in April 2004 – the second member of the family with cancer.
Dramatically we can put it this way (this is what the number-professionals do, i.e., massage and sweeten the data):
- 75 percent of the sisters ended up with cancer; and
- 50 percent had breast cancer.
Let us hope that this is NOT the kind of statistics the world has to contend with in the future.
Sister No: 1 with Lung Cancer – Alive
She was 66 years old. On 7 June 2010 her CA 19.9 was at 191.0. On 17 June 2010 a trucut biopsy confirmed she had lung cancer.
Chris: It is about two and a half years now, is she okay?
Henry: According to the CT scan, the tumour had grown smaller.
C: All these years, did she ever face any problem?
H: No problem at all.
C: And she did not go for any treatment – chemo or anything else?
H: Nothing, except taking your herbs.
C: Did she take care of her diet?
H: Yes. She took care of her diet and so far no problem.
C: I have not met her before.
H: No, no. All her problems seemed to go away. The cholesterol level went down, high blood pressure down and sugar level down after a few months on the herbs. Everything became normal.
H: She started off with a big tumour in her lung and now it has gone smaller.
Doctor said: Operate and chemo – otherwise you will die within 3 months
H: The doctor said she only has 3 months.
C: What do you mean?
H: The doctor told my sister if you don’t do chemo you will die within 3 months. And I told my sister if you want to live listen to me, don’t listen to the doctor. I told her if you operate, you die within 3 months! The doctor wanted to operate on her and then do chemo. The doctor didn’t want to give us back her medical report. I called the doctor and argued with him. If you don’t want to release the report, I shall make a police report. But I hope we don’t have to go to that extent. We just want the medical report back. The doctor asked me: What do you want to do? Go to another hospital? I told the doctor, we wanted to go for alternative medicine. He said: What is it? I replied: I have no problem sharing with you on this but I believe you are not interested to hear about this. He even asked me: Are you a doctor? No, no, I am not.
C: You mean you called the doctor and said all these?
H: Yes. I argued and argued. I told him I wanted to do a police report. Then I would come to see him with the police to get the medical report. That is the worst thing I can do. Ah, then he agreed to give us back the report.
C: I cannot understand this. You paid for his services, for the scan, etc. These are yours.
H: Money, money! He was asking for RM 60,000 plus for the treatment.
C: To do the surgery and the chemo?
H: Yes. I told her doctor: My sister did not have the money, but I have the money. But this is not about money. It is about life. The doctor said: What do you mean? I said: You do chemo you die! You operate you die! The doctor countered: But you are not a doctor! I answered him: Yes, I am not a doctor but I have read and I have experiences to tell me so. Then the doctor said to me: You don’t do, you only have 3 months. I told the doctor: If you insist, I shall bring her to see you after 3 years!
Lung tumour shrunk – Started CA Care Therapy on 2 July 2010
C: Are you sure that the tumour has shrunk?
H: Yes, yes. After about one and a half years but I don’t know exactly when.
C: Amazing but nobody is going to believe what you have said.
H: I told my sister’s daughter to ask the doctor two questions and get straight answers from him:
- Is her current condition under control? I want that answer.
- Do we still continue to do what we are currently doing based on this result?
C: Did you go back to the same doctor (who you argued with earlier)?
H: No, no.
C: Tell me again. When the doctor said she only has 3 months, did you talk to the doctor personally?
H: Yes. He also told my sister’s son: If you don’t operate you only have 3 months. Then they (family members) made a lot of noise. You see, the eldest son (my nephew) is almost the same age as me. The son wanted to follow the doctor’s advice. But my sister knew the experiences of what our two other sisters had gone through. My sister trusted me because I am the most educated in our family. Generally our family members will consult me and ask for advice.
C: Your sister wanted to follow you but her son wanted to follow the doctor? So you all fight?
H: No need to fight. I told my nephew. I am paying for your mother’s medical treatment. If you want to pay for her bills you go ahead! As simple as that! If your mother takes the herbs, I pay for her. If you want to go for medical treatment you pay! You take the full responsibility. Just look at your auntie (our 4th sister) – she is doing so well.
C: Request from CA Care. If you have a chance, please bring her complete medical reports / scans. We would like to make a study of this case.
Sister No: 3 with Breast Cancer – Died after surgery, chemo and radiation
C: The first time. Your sister No: 3 – you didn’t know (what to do)?
H: I did not have any experience with cancer before that. But actually I already knew about you but I was not sure – it did not come to my mind. They did not consult me. She went for surgery and chemo without letting me know. I did not know about it. Only after the (recurrence) and the second round of chemo that they told me about it.
C: Where do they live? From kampung (village)?
H: Yes, kampong.
C: Kampung people are very simple minded and they will follow whatever the doctors say.
H: I also brought her to Kuala Lumpur and talked to the oncologist there. At that time I did not know much about this.
C: Fair enough. You have to pay to learn.
H: Then I started to read. I have already known you after the TV and newspapers appearances.
Sister No: 4 with Breast Cancer – Still alive and well on CA Care Therapy
His 4th sister had breast cancer and underwent an operation to remove her breast. She was then asked to undergo chemo and radiotherapy, Henry objected to these treatments and brought his sister to see us in May 2004. More of this story in: https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2010/12/09/after-mastectomy-chau-took-herbs-and-changed-her-diet-her-sister-died-after-medical-treatment/ As of this writing, 2012 – more than 8 years now, this sister is still doing fine. She is the second member of the family to have cancer.
C: So when the second one had cancer, you knew exactly what to do?
H: She went for the operation and then the doctor told her to go for chemo. She called me and I told her: If you want to live, you listen to me. Our third sister is an example for you already.
C: Yes, I remember that –both of you were here arguing about chemo! Now this sister is in Johor Baru – is she fine today? I was told she did not work anymore?
H: She is a volunteer (in a Buddhist organisation). Before she had cancer, she was a manager in a plastic company. She resigned her job after she had breast cancer. She is doing fine. She is normal and goes for blood test regularly. Nothing wrong with her.
From Henry’s story, it seems that an encounter with the doctor can be as tragic as being told that you have cancer. Why the arrogance – why the threat or instilling of fear? That unfortunately is the way patients are “beaten” into submission. And such unfortunate incidents happened not only in Malaysia but everywhere too! Dr. Morton Walker, D.P.M., (in Cancer’s cause, cancer’s cure) wrote about his experience with the oncologists at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.
- I was astounded at how distorted the physicians’ presentations … The doctors appeared to become almost like used-car salesmen in a pitch for their surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. I know something about medical practices and oncology from my work as a medical researcher and as a former practicing podiatrist. In my opinion, the information the oncologists gave my fiancee was hardly an honest assessment of the relative benefits and risks associated with the recommended treatments … Both radiation and chemotherapy oncologists went about selling their separate treatments to the patient, her sons, and me … The oncologists were steadfast in their declarations. I knew they were lying.
Often to keep patients in line or quiet, they will say: You doctor or I doctor? Henry was not intimidated by such remark. In fact I would say the doctor had barked at the wrong tree! No amount of bullying, threat or fear-mongering is going to make Henry toe the doctor’s line. Henry knew better through his own experience. His third sister had breast cancer – undergone surgery, chemo and radiation. Within a year she was dead. Do you really have to die within a year? Even if you do nothing you don’t die from breast cancer within a year!
When his fourth sister again had breast cancer he would not want her to travel the same road again. His sister did not go for chemo or radiation although she was under pressure for months by the doctor to do so. I knew of this because she was my patient. So when Henry’s first sister was diagnosed with lung cancer, and the doctor said she only had 3 months to live if she did not go for surgery and chemo, Henry knew the game just too well. No amount of pressure was going to work on him.
You don’t need an MD to understand things. What you need is just to have commonsense. It was commonsense that enabled Henry to tell his sister that if you want to live you listen to me but you want to die then listen to the doctor.
Henry had learnt his lesson. When his third sister died, he knew why. He began to read books and learned from what others have got to say, besides reflecting on his own experiences. Unfortunately knowledge does not come easy served on a silver platter. You need to do your part to be learned and be knowledgeable. Read and read and read – that’s the only answer.
Unfortunately not many people like to read. Why don’t people want to read? To them ignorance is bliss. Why want to know so much? Let the doctors take care, they know best. Reflect again seriously on the three quotations above!
And to those who want an easy way out, good luck!