EK is a 66-year-old female. About 2 years ago, she felt stomach discomforts after eating. If she had soft diet, then she was okay. She did nothing about this problem. During the Chinese New Year, 2015, she felt something blocking when she took food. Then she vomited. The problem went away after that. In June 2015, she went to a medical clinic and the doctor said she might have thyroid problem. However, an endoscopy and biopsy in July 2015 indicated stomach cancer.
EK and her son came to seek out help after being told that EK had to undergo chemotherapy followed by surgery. EK did not want to undergo these procedures. Why? Listen to our conversation that day.
Summary of our conversation
Chris: Does your mother know about this?
Patient: Yes. When doing the scope, the doctor told me on the spot that I have cancer. The doctor then asked me to undergo chemo. Must decide immediately. Chemo is to shrink the tumour first. After that, they will operate me, to remove my stomach.
Son: He was trying to convince her to immediately proceed with the treatment. But when I did research on line the chemo does not work so well with diet causing cancer.
C: I understand. You are not the only one. Many others are like you too. You do not get cancer only yesterday. Perhaps it has been there for the past 5 or even 10 years already.
P: Only 2 years ago.
C: Perhaps 5 years ago it was already there but it did not show up and you did not feel anything. Most people do not “listen” to their body. For you, only now it shows up. What do you want to do? You have to decide. Correct, on the one hand you can have it removed and maybe it is gone. Do you want to operate?
P: I don’t want to operate. The doctor told me if I do not operate the tumour will grow. It may cause blockage and bleeding. And it is going to be very painful.
C: The doctor said you have to do chemo first and then surgery. Did you ask him if these procedures are going to cure you?
P: No doctor would guarantee that.
S: Why I feel not satisfied is every time we discuss with the doctor — he never want to tell us the probability. They don’t know. Depend on patient, this can happen, that can happen. They don’t know and dare not go into this subject.
P: The doctor told me it is going to be 50: 50.
S: They never tell us about the side effects. What can happen after that? I spent about 2 weeks researching (in the internet) I know that there are a lot of (side effects).
C: Okay, take it easy. Relax. Go home and think about it and decide. Listen to your heart and not your head. If your heart says operate, then go for the operation. If your heart says no operation, then don’t do the operation. Take it easy.
This is a major surgery. The whole stomach has to be removed. Understand this. If the cancer does not spread, then removing it is good. Clean and throw it away and it is gone. But if the cancer has already spread, that is where the problem is. If it has already gone to the liver, what do you do? Cut the liver also? It is hard for us to decide what is the best thing to do now.
After removing your stomach, you can’t eat anything you like any more. You need to adjust your diet. It is going to be a bit difficult.
Then that 50:50 chance — may be it may not end up 50:50 at all — we don’t know.
You can’t blame the doctor because that is all they know.
Then, back to this again. What if you do not do operate? First, the tumour may grow and block (the passage way). You cannot eat and vomit. So, you may have to face these problems.
All these basically mean — you cut, you die; you don’t cut you also die. But everybody also has to die. The question to ask is: How do you want to die? That is the most important thing.
If you go for surgery, you may die on the table. We don’t know.
P: Yes, that was what the doctor told me. If something goes wrong, you die.
C: You also need to know this. If you cut, you also need to suffer later … due to the chemo, etc. Go through all these sufferings and die. May be not worth it. This is one scenario. Another scenario is, now you are still well with no problem. If you can take care of yourself, maybe you don’t have to die sooner, may be you don’t have to suffer so much. But know that one day you have to die. So, which one do you want” Think for yourself.
You come and see us — can we cure you? No, we are not god. But we also know that we have helped a lot of people already. They don’t die that soon. But they have to learn how to help themselves. Learn how to live with your cancer. Tell your cancer — you stay in there but don’t disturb me, and I don’t disturb you. If I die, you (cancer) also die.
If there is blockage, then you have to go for surgery. If not, relax.
We know this is dangerous, we know this is a rare cancer. In one year, we do not see many case like this.
Okay, do you want to go home and think first what you want to do?
P: No, I don’t want surgery. Then go for chemo — no, my whole body would collapse! The doctor also told me that even if I did the operation, he would not be able to remove everything. May be something may be left behind. Because of that, I want to go for natural therapy.
C: Do you understand that it may not cure you? People come and ask us to cure them. Our answer is, No we cannot cure you. Because we know that cancer cannot be cured, but to help you — YES. But you have to want to help yourself first. But how long you want to help yourself is up to you. Some people get well after 6 months — they forget what we taught them after that!
S: Professor. Thanks for reminding us. I know in terms of diet, it is not easy to change.
EK and her son were desperate. And they need help. The doctor wanted her to go for chemo and surgery for her stomach cancer that had probably spread to the liver, pancreas, spleen and lymph nodes. In simple language, this is an advanced cancer, where surgery alone cannot cure her. The cancer cannot be totally removed. That means, the chance of recurrence is very high. In addition EK has to undergo chemotherapy. EK knew what she was asked to go into and decided not to follow the medical way.
EK and her son clearly need help. CA Care was set up to exactly to do this — to help those in need of direction and help. And we are ready to help. But for those who come to CA Care in search of “magic bullet” or any easy way out, then we say you have come to the wrong place. Please go elsewhere to shop for your cure.
EK’s son took time to browse the internet for more information. He was clearly unhappy that he could not discuss anything with the doctors. Understandable, doctors are busy people and they don’t have the time to explain things to the patients or their family members. Read what Dr. Heymann wrote:
It is unfortunate that doctors do not have the time to show much concern about the patients. EK was told right there and then, while doing the scope, that she has cancer and chemo has to be done immediately. The message came like a bomb. No doubt about, the “death sentence” as many like to call it, caused much anxiety and distress not only to the patient but also the entire family. Patients and their family members want to know MORE, but they cannot get much information from the doctor. At CA Care, we try our best to answer your concerns and provide information as honestly as we can — to empower you with knowledge so that you can make informed decisions.
While in the midst of writing this story, a patient came to our centre. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has spread extensively to his liver. After the CT scan, the doctor told him: We cannot operate you. We cannot chemo you. Go home, eat anything you like and go and play as much golf as you like. The patient told us, I know what that mean. The doctor virtually told me to go home and wait to die. It was indeed a great let down. We don’t know how he took it, knowing that this man was once the deputy head of a state government, a VVIP. He and his wife spent about one and half hours at our centre. We answered everything that they wanted to know. No doubt, they were satisfied. They now know what they CAN and NEED to do next.
Read again what Dr. Jody Heymann wrote:
Pose this question to the Power-that-Be, Given the above situation, what can we do to improve the situation? Is building more hospitals the answer? Perhaps we don’t need expensive hospitals but train people who run hospitals with a more “human heart”.
I am fully aware too that during our consultation, I am often very blunt. To most people, may be the mention of the word “death” is a taboo and is very objectionable. But at CA Care, we often bring this subject up with the patients. This is because we want them to understand the bigger picture of the problem. We fully understand, ALL patients want to be cured of their cancer, no matter how advanced their disease may be. Many patients say they want to “fight” to the end. Well said, but do you still want to fight with the SAME weapons, if you know with almost certainty that you are going to lose the war. In addition, you suffer as a consequence. Some even leave a “big hole” in their bank account for the next-of-kin to settle. The only winners in the game are the doctors, hospitals and drug companies!
Perhaps you may wish to reflect on these two quotations:
We are not implying here that patients with terminal cancer should just give up — go home and wait to die like the case of the VVP above. Far from it. Perhaps the question to ask is, If the expensive, scientific medicine cannot cure your cancer, can there be another option? At least another option which can allow patients to live in peace without suffering, even though we all know that cancer cannot be cured.
EK and the VVIP above did not give up. At least they came to CA Care and they found “peace” and a new “hope”.