Mei (not real name) is 53-year-old lady who flew to Penang with her husband from Australia. They were desperately in need of help. According to her doctors, Mei would not live long — it is a month to month case and Mei would probably not survive to celebrate Christmas 2017 (5 more months!).
Mei’s problem started in March 2016, when she had problem swallowing food or even water. Both her hands and legs itch. Her GP did a blood test and found her liver function enzymes were elevated. This could be due to obstructive jaundice. She was then referred to a specialist.
CT and MRI showed tumour in the head of the pancreas. In early April 2016, Mei underwent a Whipples resection in which part of the pancreas, intestine, bile duct, gallbladder, omentum and 8 lymph nodes were removed.
After the surgery, Mei received 6 cycles of chemotherapy.
Chris: Did you ask if the chemo was going to cure you? There is no clear cut answer to this question. According to Mei, she was given the impression that everything would be okay after completing the chemo.
Did you suffer from the chemo? Yes. Listen to our conversation. It was 5 months of hell.
Unfortunately too, after the fifth chemo, Mei was told that the cancer had spread to her liver. There were “innumerable foci throughout all segments of the liver.” Mei was also told that there was a spot in her lung.
Mei had to undergo more chemo. Mei received 4 more cycles of chemo. On two occasions she had to be hospitalized due to breathing difficulties. She decided to give up chemotherapy.
The oncologist and Mei’s husband came to a compromise — Mei would go on a “drug holiday” for 2 months and then resume chemo again. When the 2 months were up, Mei told the oncologist she would not want to continue with her chemotherapy any more. The oncologist said he hoped Mei could make it to December.
Many people have written about chemotherapy and its devastating effects on patients. Reflect on these quotations.
For more go to Part 2.