Diagnosed with colon cancer – What to do now?

In my earlier posting, I wrote about two Indonesians who came to seek our help after surgery and chemotherapy failed to “cure” them. The next day, Tai – another Indonesian from Pontianak came to seek our help. He was also diagnosed with colon cancer. This is another story.

Tai is 56 years old. His problem started about two months back when he had diarrhoea. Sometimes he passed out blood. He went to a hospital in Pontianak. A colonoscopy was done. The doctor said he has colon cancer and has to undergo an operation.

Not satisfied, Tai went to Kuching (Sarawak) to seek a second opinion. Blood test and CT scan were done.

Tai’s CEA level was at 15.36 (high). His liver function enzymes were all within normal limit. CT scan showed:

  • Irregular wall thickening narrowing of the recto-sigmoid.
  • There is a 25 mm hypodense lesion in segment 8 of the liver. There is no evidence of liver cirrhosis.
  • Bronchiectasis (walls of the bronchi are thickened from inflammation and infection) in the right middle and lower lobes of lung.

Tai was told to undergo surgery. This is to be followed by 6 to 10 cycles of chemotherapy.

Listen to our conversation that morning.

Below are some of the main points we discussed that morning. I hope patients who want to come and seek our help will learn from this conversation. We talked for over an hour. And this consultation is free of charge!

  1. Tai has not undergone any treatment yet after his diagnosis of colon cancer. He came to know about CA Care through a friend. Then his daughter went into the internet and read more about us.

Yes, this is the way it is. Many people know us through words of mouth. From there they go to the internet and read. After reading as much as they can, they come and see us. Spot on, patients please READ. Unfortunately, many patients don’t want to read! Or they prefer to hear and follow what others tell them.

  1. I asked Tai if he asked the doctor if surgery and chemotherapy that he was told to undergo would cure him.

Tai’s daughter said she did ask this question. The doctor replied that surgery has its own risk, and there is no guarantee of a cure.

Yes, this is what I always tell patients to do. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid. You go to the doctors hoping to find a cure — is that not what you want? So at least, ask if you can be cured! Learn to know the “truth” by yourself.

  1. Tai’s daughter then asked the doctor, Why treat if you cannot cure?

The doctor did not answer that question. His only reply was, You must undergo the surgery and chemotherapy.

From the two questions above, Tai understood the “hidden” message. His cancer cannot be cured. Surgery and chemo will not do the job! But whatever it is, Tai was told he must undergo the standard treatment protocol — everyone who gets cancer gets operated and then chemo-ed! That is the way it is.

Some doctors may get angry and give you sarcastic answer – but in this case, Tai’s doctor was not “aggressive”. He just kept quiet.

  1. The family was not convinced and refused to undergo further medical treatment.

Tai and her daughter and the son’s friend, flew to Penang and seek our advice. Patients you need to learn how to make your own decision about your health. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to be able to do this. From the answers given by the doctor and also stories of “bad “experience of others before him, Tai hesitated to join the “crowd” in the hospital. He wanted to find another option.

  1. What do you want me to do for you? Cure you? No, go for surgery first before taking our herbs.

Tai’s daughter said her father was hoping to find another alternative. Of course, like everyone else, he hopes that the herbs can cure him.

This was my reply. We know that surgery and chemo do not cure cancer. So when you come here wanting us to cure your cancer, it is really not right. My experience showed me that no one on earth can cure any cure! So don’t be misled.

Let me tell you a story.

There is this lady from Batam. She has a lump in her breast. She went to a Chinese herbalist in Kuala Lumpur who told her not to go for any surgery. She was told to just take herbs which cost RM5,000 per month! She took the herbs for almost one and a half years. The lump did not go away. It grew bigger and eventually burst. When this happened the herbalist told the lady, I cannot help you anymore. Go and see a doctor and have the lump removed.

What do you think of such a herbalist or sinseh? Don’t be misled or be cheated by such people. The same can happen in Tai’s case. There is a “rotten” tumour in his colon. It can slowly grow and block the passage in the colon. Since Tai is still young, 56 years old and the cancer has not spread extensively, I suggested that he goes for surgery to remove the tumour.

If patients come to me with extensive spread — say from the colon to the liver, lung, etc, I would generally say there is no need for surgery. Surgery is not going to cure such a serious case. But in Tai’s case, after seeing the CT scan, I am a bit unsure. Yes, there is a mass in the liver. Don’t operate that liver mass. But it is better to remove the mass in his colon. Please don’t believe that herbs can make the tumour in the colon go away.

  1. If I operate, do I need to wear a colostomy bag?

You need to ask the doctor who is going to operate on you. Generally if the tumour is very near the anus, you will need to wear a colostomy bag all your life. But if the tumour is higher up in the colon, the surgeon can just remove a section of the colon. You may need to wear a colostomy bag for a while. Later when everything is alright you need to undergo another operation to rejoin the colon and the bag is done with.

  1. To operate or not to operate: You need to make that decision. I cannot tell you what to do.

Tai said he was not prepared to undergo surgery, if possible. To this my response was: I am really concerned if you reject surgery altogether. If I have a “rotten” mass inside my colon, I would go for an operation and remove it, provided there is no extensive metastasis.

Tai explained that he is reluctant to go for an operation because for the past month a herbalist in Pontianak prescribed him some herbs. This helped him. Tai said, Before taking the herbs I have severe stomach pain. After taking the herbs, the pain was gone!

My reply. I understand. But I am afraid of what can happen to you in the future. Feeling better or good after taking herbs does not mean the cancer is cured! One day in the future, like a dormant volcano, it may explode.

From my years of experience, I know that the tumour would not go away just by taking the herbs. Yes, you may be able to live for one or two years with that rotten mass. But I am not sure what is going to happen after that.

Some alternative healers may tell you not to operate – just take their (alternative) treatments  and you will be alright. I am not sure if they are right in telling you such thing. Where is the proof or evidence that their herbs can cure?

You also need to understand that undergoing surgery to remove the tumour does not mean that the cancer will be gone forever. Surgery cannot guarantee a cure at all. But by removing the main source of the cancer, it can make the management of your cancer with alternative therapy easier.

Let me share with you the story of one VIP patient. He was an old man, past his 80s. He had colon cancer that had spread extensively to his liver. He refused any medical treatment (either surgery or chemo) in spite of the fact that his niece (a medical specialist) urged him to do so. His younger brother (a minister in the government) brought him to see us.

Based on his age and extensive metastasis, I agreed with the patient that surgery or chemo might just give more problems instead of helping him.  The patient was prescribed herbs and he was “well”. He could move his bowels normally and he continued to live his normal life. Was he cured? NO. About nine months later his stomach became bloated after eating glutinous rice laced with sugar plus salted dish. He was rushed to the hospital and died not long after the “forbidden meal”. In this case, herbs helped him but it did not cure him!

In case of Tai, it is still worth taking a gamble by undergoing surgery before taking our herbs. He is still young – just 56 years old and his cancer has not spread so extensively yet.

  1. Find the right surgeon to operate on you!

When you come and seek our help, we would try our best to help in any way we can. It is NOT just about prescribing herbs. The question that comes to mind is who is a good surgeon to go to. From the experiences of our patients, we know that Dr. X in Hospital Y is the surgeon to go to. So colon cancer patients, Go to him if you want my advice. Let me say up front, I don’t get an referral fee by doing this! In fact, I don’t know him personally. But I know he has a good reputation.

I told Tai the following:

  1. Before the operation, ask him to give your the estimated cost of the surgery.
  2. Ask the surgeon if you need to wear a colostomy bag — forever or just temporarily.
  3. There is no need to ask the surgeon if he can cure your cancer. By now you should know the reality of the situation.
  4. It is most likely that the surgeon will ask you to go for follow up chemotherapy. No need to rush into this yet. Tell the surgeon you need to go home first and discuss with your family and figure out where to find more money to pay for the treatment.
  5. No need to take herbs yet!

Take one or two weeks to decide what you want to do after considering my advice. There is no need to take the herbs now. You would be just wasting your money. If you need my help after the surgery come back again with the medical reports two or three weeks after your surgery. Then we shall decide what further treatment you need.

More stories …

While I am writing this story about Tai, I received an email from Singapore.

Dear Dr Chris Teo,

We would like to seek your advice for my mother, age 78. She suffered constipation (4 Dec to 8 Dec) and was in pain for 5 days with a huge bloated stomach.

With all investigations done in a hospital, she is diagnosed  with colon cancer on 9 Dec 2019. There is a tumour found in the large intestine that block the passing of the stools. She had undergone blood tests, CT scans and colonoscopy.

The immediate attention given by doctor was to release the gas in her body and to aid the passing of stools asap with the help of a stent insertion to the intestine. A tube was also inserted into her nose. This was done on 9 Dec 2019.

Her stomach has subsided since the insertion of stent, some stools and gas were passed out with the help of the stent. However, today (12 Dec) she did not pass out any stools.

The investigations shows:

Her CEA is 32.5. From the scan report: “There is an obstructing short segment concentric mural thickening of the mid descending colon, a primary tumour , approx 5.1cm in length with upstream dilatation of the rest of the large bowel.” CT scans shows no  spread of cancer cells to other part of the organs.

The next procedure urgently suggested by the specialist is to remove the tumour the soonest. As informed by the specialist, she would have to live with stoma bag after the removal of the tumour as the success rate of joining the intestines back is low.

We would like to seek alternative medical treatment for her, keeping in mind of my mother’s age to undergo the stress of a major surgery, as well as the quality of life after the operation.

May we check on the possibility of meeting you for a consultation.  We would greatly appreciate if we could meet up with you somewhere next week. Looking forward to hear from you. Thank you.

I have not met with the patient yet. But based on the email above, I am in full agreement that putting in a stent to help with her bowel movements was the right thing to do — a procedure alternative healers cannot do!

What about an immediate surgery as suggested by the doctor? The family members seem skeptical due to the patient’s old age (78 years old) and the prospect of having to permanently wear a colostomy bag after that.

I tend to agree with the family’s logic for not wanting the surgery. Why? Because I have come across a similar case like this before. This is the story and see if you can learn anything from this case.

Chai and his wife came to our house one day, on behalf of their 82-year-old mother who was diagnosed with colon cancer. The doctor was adamant that the patient be operated on immediately. At that point in time, I too agreed that Chai’s mother-in-law had to undergo the surgery immediately. But Chai and his wife did not want their mother to undergo the surgery.

They asked me, What if she did not undergo surgery? My answer then was: Well, the stools will be blocked and accumulate within the colon. With time the intestine may just burst. They then asked, Can your herbs do something? My answer was, I just don’t know. I cannot see how the herbs can ever clear the blockage at all.

Since Chai and his wife insisted that they would not go for the surgery, I had NO choice but to make a deal with them. I shall prescribe her some herbs. If the patient was not able to move her bowels after a week or so, they MUST bring her back to the hospital for immediate surgery. Amazingly, after taking the herbs, the patient was well. Her bowel movements became normal.

Watch this video:

About two years later, the patient died. According to Chai it is not due to cancer, probably due to old age.