Sixty-two-year-old WG is from Indonesia. She came to see us in October 2012. Her problem started after she found 2 lumps in her right breast about 3 years ago. She did not consult any doctor then. She took Chinese herbs for a few months. The lumps grew bigger.
In October 2012, WG came to Penang and consulted a doctor in a private hospital. The doctor suggested a mastectomy. She was told that the cost of the surgery would come to about RM 4,000 and she has to stay in the hospital for about 5 days.
After seeing the doctor WG came to seek our advice. These are what we told her:
- Yes, she should go ahead with her surgery.
- The doctor whom she met was also the “right” doctor. So there is no reason to go “shopping” elsewhere.
- Tell the doctor not to do any biopsy — just remove the whole right breast right away.
- After the surgery, she could come back with all the medical reports and we shall then decide what to do.
WG went for surgery as suggested. The total hospital expenses came to RM 4,800 and she stayed in the hospital for 8 days.
The histology report dated 16 October 2012 indicated the following:
- A well defined solid necrotic tumour measuring 45 x 30 x 30 mm.
- The subareolar tissue contains a cystic tumour with papillary structures measuring 30 x 30 x 20 mm.
- One out of 8 lymph nodes shows metastatic deposits of tumour.
- The tumour is negative for estrogen, progesterone and c-erb-B2 receptors.
- Stage 3 B — T4bN1 Mx.
WG had a metastatic triple negative cancer. The doctor suggested that WG undergo follow-up chemotherapy. She refused and came back to seek our help. She was started on herbs and was told to take care of her diet.
The following are the blood test results over the years.
In April 2016, WG came to Penang for a routine check-up. It has been more than 3 years since her breast surgery. Over the years her blood test seemed to be satisfactory (see table above) We have always cautioned her about her diet — Do not eat anything you like! Take care of your diet. Unfortunately, our plea did not get into her head! She admitted at times she did “curi makan” (eat the forbidden food), but not often.
Since our message did not seem to sink into her, we had to be more blunt but we tried to pass that message in a jovial and joking manner. We are glad that WG and her husband took our message in good spirit. Listen to your conversation that day.
Chris: Your liver function does not look good (table above, April 2016). Did you take care of your diet? Never pantang?
WG: Yes, I ate bad food once a while. If I don’t eat my legs and hands felt numb.
C: Well, I really don’t know what I can do. You have survived more than 3 years now. It is good that you can live that long. Some breast cancer patients would not even last that long. So please take care of yourself. I can’t really do much. So learn how to take care of yourself. Please don’t eat too much of bad food!
WG: Eat also die, don’t eat also die!
C: So, go home and eat what you like and then die faster after that.
WG: Yes, better die sooner so that I don’t have to come and see you anymore.
C: Good, you don’t have to disturb me also. So, go home and eat a lot of bad food and die faster.
GW: I also don’t have to spend any more money.
C: Ah, your husband can find a new wife. Prettier and younger one some more! See, uncle is smiling.
It is most unfortunate that most cancer patients feel that they are “cured” after being alive and well for 2 to 3 years. They often go back to their own lifestyle and diet. No one likes to know or be reminded that the cancer can recur. Unfortunately, cancer does recur in most cases. A study in Italy showed that the critical year for recurrence is at the 2nd and 5th year. And cancer does not go away even after 15 years!
Most patients are being taught to believe that after 5 years they are “cured.” This is NOT true. My aunty died when her cancer recurred 13 years after an apparent “cure”. Last month, a breast cancer patient suffered recurrence after 14 years. Read what Dr. Susan Love has got to say: