Let Death Be Her Final Healing: Five surgeries, chemo, Glevec, Sutent, hyperthermia and immunotherapy did not cure her

I received this email one Sunday morning.

Dear Dr Chris, 

My sister has returned to the Lord on 1/6, a peaceful passing. Her well deserved rest finally. Thank you for all your kind assistance throughout. Really appreciate that. 

Regards, Polly (not real name).

On the one hand, I felt sad to receive this update. But on the other hand, I felt it was indeed a blessing that she had passed on. She had suffered enough and I knew from the start that there is nothing anybody on earth could do to ever cure her.

Ten years ago, Mary (not real name) was 20 years old. She had a lump in her pelvic region.  A CT scan on 23 October 2006 suggested that it could be a lymphoma. However, a biopsy later confirmed it was a sarcoma of the lining of the small intestine. The doctor suggested it was a GIST – gastrointestinal stromal tumour.

The size of the small bowel tumour (GIST) was 10 x 14 x 14 cm. Since the size of the tumour was really huge, the doctor suggested that Mary take the oral chemo drug, Glevec — to shrink the tumour. So Mary was on Glevec for 2 years and the tumour shrunk to 6 x 8 x 9 cm ( as of 7 February 2007).

In 2008, Mary underwent an operation to remove the tumour and continued to take the Glevec.

One year later, 2009, the tumour recurred. The mass was now 8.5 x 5.5 cm. There was a 2 cm liver metastasis in segment 5 of her liver. Mary underwent a second surgery and continued to take same drug, Glevec.

In 2011, the cancer came back again. There was a new 12 mm lesion in segment 6 of the liver. There were 3 peritoneal masses: 5 x 3.5 cm, 5 x 3 cm and 3.2 x 2.2 cm. Mary went for her third surgery. After surgery, she was given the oral drug, Sutent instead of Glevec.

In 2014, the cancer came back again. There were two masses: 17 x 13 x 17 cm and 6 x 5 cm.  In addition she had a 2.8 cm right ovarian cyst. The two lesions in the liver remained unchanged. Mary had her fourth surgery and continued to take Sutent after that.

In 2015, The surgeon who operated on Mary died of heart attack. So Mary had to find another doctor to take care of her.

Under the direction of her “new” doctor, Mary continued with Sutent.

A CT scan on 4 December 2015, showed the tumour had increased in size, 18 x 15 x 13 cm. Mary underwent surgery for the fifth time.

A PET scan in July 2016 showed that the tumour had grown back again. At this stage, no more surgery was indicated.

Mary was to told to change her drug to Stivarga (RM30,000 for 3 weeks). Fortunately, she did not take this drug which has more side effects.

On 22 August 2016, Mary left for further treatment in Switzerland. This is a famous alternative clinic and she was there for three weeks receiving all kinds of infusion, including ozone therapy, etc. etc. The treatment in Switzerland cost RM 130,000.

No, the treatment in Switzerland did not work either. To be fair, the doctor there was not optimistic at all because the tumour was too big.

Back to Malaysia, Mary tried hyperthermia and targeted heat treatment.

Then Mary went to a doctor who was treating patients with immunotherapy.

Mary consulted an American hospital. She was told her cancer was not curable but treatable! The treatment would cost about half a million ringgit.

CT on 21 October 2016, showed the solid mass in her pelvis had grown to 24 x 16 x 13 cm in size. In addition she had mild ascites and mild bilateral hydronephrosis.

In early November 2016, Mary was started on dialysis due to kidney failure.

On 22 November 2016, Polly (Mary’s sister) came to seek our help. We went through her story above and at the end I said this to Polly.

  1. There is really nothing much I can do to help. Everything that could have been done was done.
  1. She is now on dialysis. Generally, I would not accept patients with kidney failure. After all, people say that herbs cause kidney damage. How can we reconcile this?
  1. After all the explanation, I came to one very sad proposition. Let’s not do anything anymore.Let her live the remaining time that she has without having to endure anymore treatment. She has suffered enough and no one could cure her. Why not let her die naturally. 

No, Polly was adamant that she wanted me to try and help her sister. No, she was not prepared to let her sister die just like that. I sent Polly home without any herbs! No, I was not going to abandon her but I requested that Polly go home and discuss with her family members — the risks, pros and cons of doing something with no realistic hope of achieving anything meaningful. Why prolong the agony?

To my surprise, Polly came back to our centre again a week later. No, she wanted me to prescribe some herbs for her sister.

Okay, deal done if she was prepared to accept whatever consequences that may arise without putting any blame on CA Care.

I told Polly, our first strategy was not to even treat the cancer. Let’s figure out how to help with her failed kidney. Currently Mary had to undergo dialysis 3 times per week. Both her feet (and sometimes face) were swollen.

So we started off with herbs to help her kidney and fluid retention.

Mary started to take the herbs. Her creatinine level improved. By mid-December 2016, the frequency of dialysis was reduced from 3 to 2 times per week.

Date Creatinine
7 Nov. 2016 670
12 Nov. 2016 720
19 Nov. 2016 520
29 Nov. 2016 438
5 Dec. 2016 346
19 Dec. 2016 330
Dialysis twice per week
23 Dec. 2016 322
2 Jan. 2017 365
5 Feb. 2017 330

Comments

Polly was indeed committed to her sister’s healing. I admired her dedication of wanting to do everything for her sister, in the face of hopelessness. She visited CA Care a couple of times to update me of what had happened.

After taking the herbs there was no doubt that Mary’s health had improved! Polly wrote, Her face puffiness and bloatedness have reduced much … she looks better than before she started the herbs. 

Polly once told me that Mary could now walk around in the house and could smile! Before that, she would not smile!

During Polly’s last visit to us, I asked, What happened to your sister now? Polly replied, She is now in Singapore — holiday with my parents.

I shook my head in disbelief and we could only thank God for this blessing. Perhaps at the beginning, I was cruel to suggest that we would just let Mary die without doing anything more. But at that time, I thought I was just wanting to be kind — why prolong the agony? After all we know that this is a hopeless case.

About 6 months later, reality struck. Mary returned to be with her Lord on 1 June 2017.

I now wonder if all the efforts of taking herbs (and prolong her life for another 6 months without pain) is worth it after all.

Mary had gone to Switzerland for a special treatment and spent RM150,000. Then an oncologist in a US-linked hospital suggested more treatments that would not cure. This would cost some half a million ringgit.

Paul Workman, Giulio Draetta, Jan Scellens and Rene Bernards wrote an article, How Much Longer Will We Put Up With $100,000 Cancer Drugs? I  too  just wonder, has the world of cancer treatment gone crazy and out of control — like Mary’s incurable cancer ?

Mary’s case is my first case where I agreed to prescribe herbs in spite of her failed kidney. I would not want to take on such kidney failure case in the future. So, for those of you reading this story, please go to your doctor for help and do your dialysis.

Let me conclude with one point for you to think about. Often — very often — many people warn you that taking herbs can damage your kidney or/and liver.

In this case, Mary came with a failed kidney and her creatinine was better and her health improved instead of going downhill after taking the herbs. You still believe that herbs can hurt your kidney?

Read related stories:

Bring her home and let her die in peace and with dignity. Part 1: The mantra of  NO CURE BUT THERE ARE TREATMENTS is meaningless.

How Much Longer Will We Put Up With $100,000 Cancer Drugs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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