Follow your heart not your head when it comes to deciding whether you should go for chemo /radiation or not

TT is 56-year-old Indonesia lady. She presented as a easy going, cheerful lady who takes care of her health rather seriously. One late morning we got a phone call from her requesting to see us immediately. Her urgency was rather understandable since she was to start her radiotherapy on Monday. We waited for her to come, even though our centre was about to be closed for the day!

This is her story.

In 2013, TT had her routine pap smear. According to her doctor, there was nothing, except some kind of fungus infection. She was given antibiotics. She was okay for 6 months. A checkup 9 months later showed fungal infection again. She was on antibiotics again and was better. But her problem persisted after that. TT was not happy and wanted to solve her problem. She was referred to another doctor. She was found to be positive for HPV (human papilloma virus — a virus associated with cervical cancer).

TT was referred to an oncologist who recommended surgery. TT came to a private hospital in Penang and  underwent a radical hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (that is the removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes (salpingo), and ovaries (oophor) and  omentectomy. Histopathology indicated squamous cell carcinoma, Stage 2B with pelvic involvement.

The operation cost about RM 25,000.

TT was asked to undergo follow up chemotherapy. She met up with 2 oncologists in the hospital. One oncologist suggested 6 cycles of chemo and 30 times radiation. Another oncologist offered 4 cycles of chemo and 20 times radiation plus 2 times of brachytherapy, also known as internal radiotherapy. Obviously, TT was drawn to the second oncologist because of less severe treatment.

During our conservation, we asked TT: Did you ask the oncologist if he could cure you with that treatment? She replied: 60 to 70 % chance of cure. When she asked the oncologist if there was any other option, the answer was: No, no other way. Must do chemo and radiotherapy as soon as possible. It you don’t do quickly the cancer is going to spread and will be more serious.

TT agreed to undergo the recommended treatments. She was scheduled to start treatment on 15 June but unfortunately the oncologist was on leave and her treatment was brought forward to 23 June 2015.

TT came back to Penang in mid June. However, TT said she was not satisfied and felt heavy in her heart. She was not sure if these treatments would be good for her or not. She was in a dilemma and went to see the oncologist again. The oncologist said these to her:

  • Don’t listen to what other people say.
  • The dosage you are going to get is only small dosage.
  • Your hair don’t drop.

TT had no choice. She paid RM 13,000 as an advanced payment for the radiation treatment. Then she drove to a cancer hospital to have her “marked.” TT said as she drove to that hospital she felt she was led to the “slaughter house.” When the young technicians removed her clothing to make markings on her body she felt she was being “processed” for a death. But again, she had no other choice.

Then she went back to the hospital where she was supposed to undergo chemotherapy. She met someone who told her: Let us sit down and pray together. After the prayer this someone said: Why don’t you go back and see the oncologist again and ask him again if you can skip chemotherapy. But for radiotherapy, you have already paid for it.

For the third time, TT went to see the oncologist and express her reservation about chemotherapy. The oncologist told her again:

  • Don’t worry I guarantee that you would not loose even 1 kg after the treatment.
  • If you have no appetite, I shall give something to help you with that.
  • If your blood count is low I will give injections to help avoid infection.

TT was not convinced with the above assurance because staying in the same boarding house was a patient who was undergoing chemotherapy. He was once a very strong man but with the treatment he lost 16 kg and lost his appetite and could not eat. He told TT, if I know I have to go through this, I would rather die.

The next day (i.e. Thursday) after meeting the oncologist, TT decided to go shopping — a way to take pressure off her. On Friday morning, while she was preparing food in her boarding house one person told her this:

  • Who is sick? You are not sick. Don’t go for chemo. It would be a disaster.
  • Before you proceed further with your treatment, go and see this Chris Teo first and talk to him.

So, that Friday, late morning we got a call from TT requesting to see us urgently.

At CA Care, we spent almost an hour talking to TT and her husband.

Knowing that TT was under so much stress and jittery about what she was going into, it would not be fair or ethical to put more pressure on her. In situation like this, we know patients are generally vulnerable and we don’t intend be become “vultures” taking advantage of such desperate patients.  So basically our advice to TT and her husband were as follows:

  • Relax and take it easy. Go home and talk to your God. It’s Friday and you still have until Monday morning to listen to what God has to say. God will not shout out loud to answer you but I believe He will touch your heart in one way or another. Listen to your heart.
  • We tell everyone who comes to us, God will answer your prayer if you sincerely ask Him for guidance. And if He does not answer you, in time of desperate need like this, then there is no reason why you should worship Him day in and day out.
  • Go home first and don’t make any decision yet, not until you have done your part. Read these two comic books: Knowing The Truth May Save Your Life And Money and The Treacherous Journey. At least before you ask God to help you, you need to help yourself first. Go home and read. At most you need only 1 or 2 hours to understand the messages in these books.
  • Come and see us again if you decide you don’t want to follow up with your oncologist. But if you decide you want to go ahead with your chemo /radiotherapy, then go ahead.
  • Nobody should decide for you what you should do.
  • Follow what your heart says for that is where God speaks to you.
  • For now, there is no need to take any herbs — why the rush? You do not get cancer only yesterday!
  • There is no need to pay any consultation fee. God bless you and guide you.

TT and her husband understood our message and their facial expressions showed they felt very happy indeed. There was no compulsion, no threat, no sales talk! This has always been our way — to help those who need our help as honestly as we know how.

Monday — TT and her husband came back to see us again. The first word that out of her husband was, God has spoken to us. The husband read the books aloud while TT relaxed and listened. The story of Ella inspired her a lot, No chemo you live only three months, with chemo two and a half years! 

Tuesday — We chatted with TT and her husband to know more of what had happened. Watch this video (in Bahasa Indonesia) to get more details.

TT was determined that she was not going for chemotherapy or radiotherapy as recommended by her oncologist. By reading and knowing more she and her husband felt that there is another option — not radiation or chemo. We make it clear to them that this important (life and death) decision has to be TT’s decision. She had made her choice and she should be prepared to enjoy or suffer the consequences of that decision. TT said, I felt very much relief. Peace! The heavy load in my heart has been lifted away.

You have already paid RM 15,000 as a deposit for your radiotherapy. What has happened to that money? That’s another story to follow.

 

 

 

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