Amar (not real name) is a 32-year-old Indonesia male. In April 2016, he had a seizure and vomited. He was immediately sent to the hospital in Batam. After performing an X-ray, he was given some medication and sent home. He was able to go back work.
One week later, Amar went into a coma and was sent back to the hospital again. The doctor told the family Amar had stage 4 brain cancer. He was asked to immediately undergo a brain surgery. The doctor said that was the only option left. The risk of surgery would be: Amar could suffer memory loss or he could go blind.
The operation was carried out in Batam and Amar regained consciousness. The operation cost IDR 170 million. Unfortunately the surgeon was only able to remove 70 percent of the tumour. Amar was asked to undergo chemotherapy which the family rejected.
This is what Amar’s brain looked like after the surgery.
Amar was brought to consult two doctors in Johor Baru. One surgeon suggested that Amar should undergo another surgery to removed more of the tumour in his brain. An oncologist suggested radiotherapy. The family opted for the latter and he had 30 sessions of radiation. Radiotherapy cost the family RM 12,000.
Two week after the completion of the radiation treatment, Amar became blind. As a follow up the oncologist put Amar on oral chemotherapy. Amar had three round of chemotherapy. Then his brother decided to come to Penang to seek our help.
Chris: When you were asked to undergo the operation, did you ask the surgeon if he was going to be able to cure your brother?
Brother: We did not ask. We did not know else to do.
C: Actually, surgery would not cure anything! Then you went for radiotherapy. Did you ask if this was going to cure him?
B: We asked about the benefit of radiation. The doctor said radiation cannot cure, but we need to try. We want the radiation to kill the cancer cells!
C: Then the oral chemo-drug. What good will that do to your brother? Let me be very outright with you. No one can cure your brother’s cancer. For all that you have done, your brother ended up blind. You now come and see me. What do you expect me to do?
B: I want to find a cure for my brother.
C: That is impossible. There is really nothing much I can do. You may just waste your money and efforts. So go home and discuss with the family — what they really want to do.
B: The family do not know what to do. I want to try your herbs.
What if you do nothing?
The son and daughter of this patient came to our centre. Yes, they felt compelled to do the utmost for their father. But sometimes, it is wiser and braver not to do a thing. In this case, it would be a bad joke to believe that 5 times radiation and a biopsy would make sense. What do you hope to achieve? To say that radiation is going to kill the cancer cells or to stop the cancer from spreading is only a good selling point, nothing than that. Let’s not be naive.
Let us recall two well documented brain cancer cases in the US. Let’s see if we can learn anything from these.
- Senator Kennedy and glioma
Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant glioma in May 2008, after being hospitalized following a seizure. A month later, he underwent what was described as “successful” surgery at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, and then received both chemotherapy and radiation after returning home to Massachusetts.
Six months after the diagnosis, Senator Kennedy had returned to the Capitol and was working part-time while still continuing with treatment. However, in January 2009, he collapsed during the inaugural luncheon for the new president Barack Obama. Senator Kennedy died in August 2009 — barely one year after his diagnosis.
- Beau Biden, US vice president’s son, died at 46 of brain cancer.
The son of Vice President Biden and former state attorney general of Delaware, died after battling brain cancer. In 2010, Beau Biden had suffered what officials described as a mild stroke. Three years later, 2013, he was admitted to the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Doctors removed a small lesion from his brain and then followed a normal course of radiation and chemotherapy. By November 2013, he had been given a clean bill of health, but after a recurrence in 2015, Biden began an aggressive treatment and was admitted to Walter Reed. He died in May 2015.
The above are outstanding “sons” of America where the best of medical treatments can be found and are available. Senator Kennedy or AG Biden would have access to the best of medical technology to combat their brain cancer. Yet, they died. What chance do we — common folks — have? Or are we being misled and sold false hope?
Read what Dr. Tobias has got to say about surgery for brain cancer ….
See our next posting: Brain Tumour – No to Surgery.