Part 1: Breast Cancer that Went Bad

I got an email from a 63-year old lady. Let us call her Mery (not her real name). She was asked to seek our help by one of her doctors.

Mery wrote:

  1. I accidentally found a lump on my left breast while in Beijing on work assignment. I went for an ultrasound and it indicated a tumour. I returned to Malaysia and went to Hospital A.
  • A general surgeon did an ultrasound guided biopsy and mammogram.  The result showed an infiltrated ductal carcinoma, early stage.  He then suggested surgery and chemo and radiotherapy.

3.   USG in June 2018, indicated a cancerous lump in her left breast measuring 2 x 1.5 x 3.0 cm at 1-2 o’clock  position. There was no lesion in the right breast.

4.  I sought a second opinion from the best and  well known breast surgeon. She suggested surgery followed by reconstruction, chemo and radiotherapy.

5. In view of my financial situation this surgeon referred me to a surgeon in the university hospital who also recommended undergoing surgery and reconstruction at one go. 

Detox Program Overseas

6. I did not commit to this medical recommendation and went overseas to do a 28-day detox programme.

7. The activities during this detox treatment included:

  • liquid  juices, soup rice and veggies for lunch; warm Quinoa bowl with coconut milk and berries fresh fruits and avocado. I try to continue with the programme while back home but found it hard doing all by myself for the post 28 days follow up. 
  • I don’t remember exactly how much the programme cost. But was a lot of money for the 28 days – food lodging, full time nurse,  supplements and herbs.  Doctor’s fee and supplies to take home for post 28 days. It was probably USD 4,000 plus  (subsidised by her church group).

Medical Treatments

7.   Since I decided to delay surgery,  I was prescribed an oral drug, Letrazol (or Femara). I was on it from Oct /Nov 2018 to Aug 2019 – for about 8 months. Honestly I stopped taking this drug after I was told of the side effects of the oral chemo drug.

8.   Since I wasn’t ready for surgery, I asked the university hospital if she has anything less invasive. She recommend and booked me for cryotherapy. This was to be done by a visiting doctor from Japan scheduled for end of Feb 2019. Cryotherapy was cancelled at short notice. It was because my tumor is too close to skin surface thus I was not a suitable  for the procedure.

9.   I was sent to the oncologist to understand the scope of chemotherapy.

10. March  2019, I had an automobile accident and this set me back six months.

11. USG done in June 2019 showed:

  • Left breasts: There is an irregular hypoechoic lesion measuring 3.0 x 1.8 x 2.6 cm at the 2 o’clock position. It is close proximity with the underlying pectoralis muscle. However there is no invasion.
  • Right breast: Normal with no significant axillary lymph nodes.

Left breast carcinoma with no evidence of multifocality or multicentricity. No suspicious axillary lymph nodes.

12. Whole body scan was done in October 2019 done in preparation for surgery. I was ready for surgery. But the surgeon said I had to do chemo first before the surgery. But I didn’t want chemotherapy. So surgery was not done. The result of the scan showed:

  • L4 vertebral body fracture, recent (due to automobile accident). No other significant uptake elsewhere. Findings could be due to a benign facture.

13. The doctor also said Letrazol (which I started to take since Oct/Nov 2018) did not work for me. The doctor switched to tamoxifen for 3 months since I didn’t want chemo before surgery. Tamoxifen did not work because I didn’t take it!

14. Since I had to wait too long for an appointment at the university during covid, I went to a private cancer hospital for CT scan in August 2021 (before chemotherapy). The CT scan results showed:

  • Left breast: with left axilla lymphadenopathy.
  • Bone: Multiple lytic and sclerotic lesions at all thoracic, lumbar and iliac bones.

Reduced vertebra height T12 vetebra. There were spots on the skull. 

Chemotherapy & Zometa

15. I started chemotherapy. The first cycle was in August 2021. I completed the sixth cycle in December 2021. This was done in a private cancer hospital. The chemo regimen used was FEC – 5-FU, epidoxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. 

16. I also had Zometa for the bone – quarterly. The first dose was in November 2021.

17. I had post chemo CT scan in January 2022.  The results showed:

  • Left breast: Previously seen left breast lesion is slightly smaller measuring 3.8 cm in diameter. Previously it was 4.2 cm. Spiculated left axillary lumpb nodes, largest measures 0.9 cm  – previously it was 1.37 cm.
  • Right breast: Subcentimeter right axillary lymph nodes.
  • Lung: There is left pleural effusion. Fibrosis in both lower lobes.
  • Bone: Lesions at the manibrium, sternum, most of the thoracis, lumbar, sacral and iliac bones. Reduced vertebra height of T4, T9 and T12.

The doctor said I responded very well to the treatment.

Progressive Disease

18. With effect from January 2022, I was transferred to a government cancer hospital to continue with my Zometa treatment (for Feb/May and July 2022 treatments).

19. A CT scan done in June 2022 showed mixed results.

Left breast tumour is larger and the left axillary lymph node is also large.

Stable left pleural effusion.

Stable bone metastases.

Overall: Progressive disease.

This was in spite of the fact that I was on tamoxifen since January 2022. Radiotherapy was put on hold.

Current Medications

20. I started Chinese herbs Jul 2021 under Dr L until now. Each time the herbal concoction prescribed was different based on my tongue pic and how I felt.  During my chemo she gave me something after meal – herbal as well a lot of turmeric couple of times.

21. In July 2020, I changed my herbal doctor. I went to a herbalist of a government hospital.

22. In addition, I was also on other herbs:

  • Astragalus propinguus 
  • Hemohim  (stopped temporarily since June 2022)
  • EsiaacTtea

23. The doctor’s medications I am taking now.

  • Tramadol or panadol
  • Gapabentin
  • Utracet
  • Exemestame (Aromasin)

Today is the second month I am on Aromasin. I don’t feel any relief for the pain and numbness but the opposite is true. I also feel pain in the chest and more on the back. Until I have a plan B to feel better I’m ready to stop the medication and pain killer.

24. Supplements I took (first month herbal remedies)

  1. Vitamin B complex  2×2 daily
  2. Vitamin C plus 2×2 daily
  3. Natural Calcium 1×2 daily
  4. Vitamin D3 1×2 daily (2000IU)
  5. Magnesium 2×2 Daily
  6. Bio berry antioxidant 1x daily
  7. Spirulina 30×2 daily

 Supplements (second month herbal remedies)

  1. Amino acid 1×2 daily
  2. Targeted immune support 2×1 daily
  3. Vitamin D 1×1 daily
  4. Magnesium 2×2 daily
  5. Natural Calcium 1×1 daily
  6. Spirulina 30×2 daily

The Challenges Ahead

1. Decide what you want to do now!

 When writing to me, Mery was also searching for another option. She went to consult Dr. B who told her that:

  · She had quite a number of adjustments to make to improve the immune system, decrease cholesterol and inflammation. Amongst others are signs of pre-diabetic, cardiovascular risk factor, sign of liver /gall bladder duct blockage, re-do hepatitis three shots when okay to do so,  and early sign of kidney failure.

 · Presence of antinuclear antibody shown in food allergy report listed under dust mites that leads to auto immune disease 

 · Cancer antigen 27-29 test marker showed 719 which is very high, indicating super aggressive cancer activity.

 Dr. B is a medical doctor who also studied nutrition therapy under a professor.  Dr. B said her professor would offer four concoctions to be formulated based on my lab report (customized) plus some essential supplements as alternative treatment plan. 

 The four concoctions would cost  RM 3,000++. In addition there are five other supplements which I don’t have the price (didn’t ask since I said will go back pray and think about it). 

 The length of treatment is usually six months, then patients goes on maintenance support. But will be twelve months if there is heavy metal toxicity involved which requires hair mineral test.

 Mery told Dr. B: The price is steep for my pocket for a period of six months.  

Don’t take my herbs la!

 I told Mery that if I had a choice I would not want to take up her case. I know that it is not going to be an easy case to handle. It is going to be a long and frustrating journey for us.

For the past two months we have written no less than 150 emails between us. I wonder if we can endure this journey or how long it will last. 

Mery was perhaps in a loss and was hopping from one doctor to another.  However, I felt it is not right for me to just turn her down if she really wants me to help her. I made it clear to Mery I shall try my best to help but I cannot promise a cure.  

Mery has to make her own decision from here onwards. It is okay if she goes for another therapy. Try other people’s treatment first if that is what makes her happy.

2.  Her blood test results were  as follows:

 We hope that after Mery has been on our therapy for 3 months, we can compare the progress of her healing by doing another blood test. But from the results of the three test tabulated above, I am not sure if the next blood tests could provide any meaningful indication.  

 It would be better that all blood tests be done in the same lab over a period of time. My experience showed that data obtained by jumping from one lab to another might not be reliable.

 3. Her cancer wound

The picture below shows the current situation seen from the outside.  A mass in the upper left region near the arm pit ruptured resulting in the wound. The cancer had moved north from the original lump in her left breast.

Take note that the lump in the left breast has not been removed. Based on the CT scan done in June 2022, the oncologist said the original tumour had grown much bigger.

This is something we need to take note of and it remains a source of great concern.

We hope that after Mery has been on our therapy for 3 months, we would know the progress of her healing by doing another blood test. But from the results of the three tests tabulated above, I am not sure if the next blood tests could provide any meaningful  indication. 

4. Metastasis

Another great concern is the possibility of metastasis to other tissues and organs. As it is now, CT scan has shown Mery had metastases in various parts of the bones. Besides the bone. Mery had pleural effusion (fluid in the lung). This is something we need to be concerned. We know that breast cancer can spread to the liver, lung and finally the brain.

CA Care Therapy

Mery decided she wanted to give our therapy a try. OK, let’s not give up but at the same time let us face reality. However, working with cancer patients over the years, I know that miracles do happen!

In the next article, we documented Mery’s response to our therapy after taking the herbs for about a month.