Carcinoid Tumour of the Intestine: Surgery not indicated, chemo would not cure! Three weeks to live. But still alive after 9 months!

CH is 50-year-old male. He had chronic constipation with pain for about 6 months but did nothing about it.

Eventually he landed in a hospital and was told he had two tumours. One at the anorectal junction, 4.4 cm in length and 1.7 cm thick. There was also a mass at the mid sigmoid colon, measuring 1.5 x 2.7 cm.

CT scan also showed:

  • Multiple non-enhancing lesions in both lobes of the liver which measure up to 4.5 x 3.9 x 5.0 cm.
  • Numerous tiny well-defined nodules seen in both lung fields.
  • No lymphadenopathy.
  • No bony lesion.

A biopsy was done and the histopathology report indicated a neuroendorine tumour, most likely a high grade carcinoid.

(Note: Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are RARE neoplasms that arise from cells of the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems. Many are benign, while some are malignant. They most commonly occur in the intestine, where they are often called carcinoid tumors, but they are also found in the pancreas, lung and the rest of the body).

CH consulted 4 doctors and all of them said he needed chemotherapy. A doctor in a private hospital said CH had only 3 weeks to live. So CH immediately underwent chemotherapy, initially for 3 cycles (to do 6 cycles).

While undergoing chemotherapy, a friend of CH came to seek our help. CH was unable to travel then. We prescribed some basic herbs and did not expect CH to live long enough to be able to come and see us.

To our surprise, a week later CH and his friend drove from Kuala Lumpur to our centre. 

Video 1: Surgery not indicated, chemo would not cure. After one week on herbs, he felt better!

 

During his first visit, CH said he had better appetite and there was less pain after taking the herbs. He had  more energy. Also there was less blood in his stools.

The tumour is still inside and could not be removed. CH had to do chemo but this would not cure him!

CH was told to continue with 3 more cycles of chemo. But this time it would be at a government cancer hospital. The government oncologist told CH that he had 2 months to live!

I told CH not to worry too much. All of us will have to die one day. What is important is, take the herbs and you feel better. Don’t get worse — stomach bloated, pain here and pain there — then that would be miserable. Remember everyone of us has to die. What is important is to die well.

Video 2: After 3 cycles of chemo and a month on herbs, his health improved. But I want a cure!

 

A month later, CH came to see us again. This time another friend drove him here. CH said he felt better and had very much less pain (scale of 9/10 reduced to 2/10). He only took the Pain Tea and did not have to resort to all kinds of pain medications by the doctor.

There was less blood in his tools and he passed out jelly-like substance together with some blood.

Chris: Now that you are getting better, do you think you are going to die now?

CH: Not so soon.

Chris: I would wondering why doctors are not curious enough to know why you don’t die yet?

Chris: Now that you are better, what else do you want?

CH: I am hoping you can cure me.

Chris: No la … how can that be?

Video 3: After 6 cycles of chemo and 5 months on herbs, he looked like a normal healthy person!

 

On this glorious morning of late December 2016, CH and his wife came to see us. I could not recognise CH because he was not bald anymore. He presented as a healthy person. CH said this time he drove from KL to Penang by himself. In fact, these days he felt so good and he had been driving around without any problem.

A good achievement indeed for a man who was supposed to die within 3 weeks!

CH said he had completed 6 cycles of chemotherapy at the end of September 2016. There was no medication from his oncologist and the next follow up will be in February 2017.

In late October 2016 CT scan showed that:

  • Previous multiple small lung nodules — some show stable size, regression and disappearance of lesion.
  • There are multiple subcentimeter mediastinal lymph nodes. All appear unchanged.
  • Increasing in size and numbers of multiple liver lesions. The largest in segment 8, measures 7.6 x 7.4 cm. This indicates worsening of liver metastasis.
  • Slightly increased size of the lower rectal mass causing narrowing of the rectal canal, measures 4.5 cm in length (previously 4.4 cm).
  • Sclerotic lesions at the neck of left femur, right transverse process of L3 and T6 vertebral body.

Comments

There are many lessons we can learn from this case.

  1. I received many emails from people who wrote on behalf of their friends. My answer has always been — No use. No need to try to be a “hero” trying to “save” someone else if that person or his/her family members can’t even come and see us. What can I do on line? In this case, CH’s sent a friend all the way from KL. It was not possible to me to send him home empty handed. So, I did prescribed CH some basic herbs.

I am glad that when CH got well after a week, he took it upon himself to come to Penang and talked to us. That is the spirit we want! Show that you are interested to help yourself first before others can help you. Sitting in front of a computer and expecting good things to happen is asking too much.

  1. CH had a rare type of cancer. According to the oncologist, even chemo would not cure him. On top of that CH was told by the oncologist of a private hospital that he had only 3 weeks to live. Do you ever wonder why the oncologist needs to say such thing? Is he playing god? Or is this a way to “frighten patients to death” so that they would not want to think for themselves anymore but to submit to his recommended chemo treatment immediately? No time for second opinion anymore. Don’t waste time, you are dying! Right?

Read what Dr. Groopman said:

17-play-god-six-month-to-live

I fully agree with this learned professor. No mortal can decide how long you life. That’s God’s prerogative. So it is indeed foolish for anyone to believe what they are being told i.e., when they would die.

  1. I am fully aware that talking to patients about his/her death is not a nice topic to bring up, especially when they sit in front of you looking or feeling “half dead.” Some even consider it a taboo.

But, if you really want to help yourself and find healing, I believe it is important that you are made aware of the reality of the situation. Face the problem squarely! There is no point being in denial. I hope by talking openly about death, you realize that everyone has to die, not only you! No matter how much you want to deny it or fear it, there is no escape. So why can’t we accept it as a natural process of life without any fear. If we have to “go” let us go in peace. That’s my message to our patients. Perhaps with acceptance like this, healing comes more easily.

  1. There is one important aspect of healing which some patients forget, that is, to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Accept things the way it comes to you and always be grateful for what you are and what you have. If you can eat, can sleep, can move around without pain — what else do you want?

Yes, everyone who comes to us want a cure! CH was hoping for us to cure him too, in spite of being told that chemo would not cure him and he had only few weeks or months to live.

While we don’t want you to lose hope — you should aspire to get the best by doing your best — we also want to remind you that you may end up being “cheated” or taken for a ride if someone promises you that he can cure your cancer! So beware.

  1. We are indeed glad to see CH doing fine up to this point — at least he can now live a normal, healthy life in spite of having many “bombs” embedded inside him. This is what we mean when we tell patients, Learn to live with your cancer. You don’t have to wage a war against the cancer inside you!

Up to this point, we see CH’s healing as a grace and a blessing. Accept it that way and you can be more at peace with life.

  1. Often patients are told that when they are undergoing chemotherapy, they should NOT take any herbs or supplements. Then they can eat whatever they like! There is no truth in such dogma!

5-oncologsit-harm-patients

 

In this case, CH did well indeed. He did chemo and took herbs at the same time, while taking care of his diet. Is that not wonderful? Is that not safe enough — no harm comes out of this combination?

Is the Power-that-Be not curious or interested enough to know why CH is still alive and doing well? Oh, no we don’t want to know! It does not interest us a bit. Is that what it is?

 

 

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