Julie (not real name) is a 54-year-old Indonesia. She was initially diagnosed with TB (tuberculosis) and has been taking TB medication for the past seven months. No, her problems did not go away.
Blood tests showed her CEA was at 39.7 (high) and a CT scan showed a mass in her lung.
The doctor wanted her to do a biopsy and if it is cancerous, Julie would have to undergo chemotherapy. Julie do not want chemotherapy. My question to her, “Why don’t you want to go for chemo?”
Julie had a bitter experience to share.
About 5 years ago (in around February 2013) Julie’s husband was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent an operation — performed by one of the best colorectal surgeons in Singapore. He was then sent to a well known Singapore private hospital for chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was started in June and by December Julie’s husband was dead.
After receiving 3 cycles of chemo, he had difficulty walking.
Chris: “Did you still continue with the chemo?”
In spite of the early warning that something had gone wrong, the oncologist still wanted the patient to finish the scheduled six cycles. Julie’s husband eventually completed the six cycles of chemo. Within a few minutes of completing this last cycle — after the “needle” was removed from his arm — he died.
C: “Did you ask the oncologist why your husband died?”
The oncologist said his heart could not stand the toxic drug.
C: Before you started the chemo, did you ever ask the oncologist if chemo can kill?”
The oncologist said the chemo is going to cure him!
C: “In total, how much money did you spend for his treatment?”
About one milyar (one billion) rupiah.
This is a story of two tragedies. One, Julie had been taking TB drug for the past 7 months because the doctor thought she had TB. She was not getting better.
Julie said every day, throughout the day, she has pain and numbness on the right side of her chest. Once a while blood oozed out from her right ear. She could not sleep at night because of her cough. She had no appetite and felt tired all day long. She became breathless when climbing the stairs.
The doctor was monitoring her progress through X-rays. It was not until May 2018 that a CT scan was done. After seeing the scan, it was not about TB anymore. Could it be lung cancer? Or to be more precise, could it be a metastatic lung cancer?
Why did I say metastatic lung cancer?
Julie told us that in 2011, she had a hysterectomy. Then in 2013, she again had an operation to remove her ovary. I asked Julie if the doctors at the time ever indicated that she had some sort of cancer? Julie did not know. It was indeed unfortunate that such medical history was not taken into account (perhaps they did not even want to know?) when the doctors came to the conclusion that she had TB.
Tragedy number two. Julie was told that she would have to undergo chemotherapy if the biopsy turns out to be positive. No chemo for me — that is Julie’s position. Her husband was killed by that kind of treatment.
Julie specially flew to Penang to seek our help. Yes, we understand her predicament. I have heard many such stories before. If you have colon cancer you don’t have to die within 6 months even if you don’t do any chemo. We have patients living ten years and more, after surgery but without any chemo. So the story of Julie’s husband is pathetic.
I spent almost an hour trying to help her in any way I can. I have also reminded Julie that I cannot cure her — to help yes, but to cure, NO. In a situation like this we can only do our best to heal ourselves. But first and foremost she must be willing to help herself. Are you prepared to take that responsibility?
You don’t have to wait until your partner dies before you believe what these doctors said: