Not All Cancers Are the Same

It looks like I am really dumb trying to write an article with such a title. Everyone knows that there are many different types of cancers. Some people have breast cancer, others have lung, liver or brain cancer. Who doesn’t know that all these are different cancers? Yes – you are right on this score, at least on the first level. However, know this – that the more you know, the more you don’t know! Let’s see what you may not know when we start to “dig in” deeper .

  1. Cancer is not a single disease. Cancer has one name, but many illnesses. It is not a single disease but probably a mix group of more than 200 different diseases. By definition, a disease is called cancer when the cells have lost their ability to control their rate of duplication. Secondly, a cancer has an abnormal ability to spread to distant sites. 
  2. Different cancers in different organs are different. For example, skin cancer is different from liver cancer. Everyone should know this!
  3. Not all cancers that develop in the same area of the body are the same. This is what I mean by “not all cancers are the same”. For example, not everyone with breast cancer has exactly the same type of cancer, meaning not all breast cancers are the same. Similarly, not all cancers in the brain are the same and not all lung cancers are the same.

The following two statements are very important aspects of cancer which we all need to know.

     4.  Not all cancers have the same growth rates – some are fast growing while others grow slowly.

     5.  Not all cancers eventually grow out be become full blown cancers that can kill us.

The above statements can best be explained by the diagram below:

Source: Gilbert Welch, Should I Be Tested for Cancer? pg.55

  1. The arrow labeled “Fast” represents a fast growing cancer. This type of cancer can quickly cause problems and kill us fast.  No treatments can save us from this type of cancer.  No matter what we do, we will die.
  2. The arrow labeled “Slow” represents a slow growing cancer. It takes some years to cause us problems and eventually kill us. With treatment we may be able to influence or modify the path and outcome of disease. This is the type of cancer we hope can be helped by treatments – be it medical or alternative therapies.
  3. The arrow labeled “Very Slow” represents a cancer that never causes problems because it grows very slowly. This cancer grows slowly enough that we may just die with the cancer (not die because of the cancer). We may die of other reasons, such as heart attack, diabetes, accident, etc.
  4. The arrow labeled “Non-progressive” represents a cancer that NEVER causes problems because it is not growing at all. In other words, they are only cellular abnormalities. The “experts” say we have something that meets the pathologic definition of cancer. Such “cancer” may even stop growing or perhaps even shrinks or disappear later in our life. We don’t have to treat such harmless “cancer.”

From the above it is clear that all cancers are not created equal. Some grow rapidly and invade other tissue, others grow slowly and remain non-invasive, and some don’t grow at all or may even recede. Unfortunately doctors will not be able to know with absolute certainty which cancer belong to which type although they do carry out some tests to try and differentiate them.

I am indeed glad that I got to read and understand this idea in Dr. Gilbert Welch’s book, Should I Be Tested for Cancer?    

Implications for Treatment of Cancer

Now we have a few more things “on our plate” and let us think critically.

  1. Not all cancers are the same – agreed? Some need to be treated aggressively some need gentle treatment while others may not need treatment at all (i.e. just wait and see!)
  2. In the same way, can we say that not all cancer patients are the same? Different people will react to treatment differently.
  3. In more of the same way, can we say that not all cancer doctors are the same? Yes? Different doctors do and also tell us different things about a cancer. Different doctors offer different approaches to solving the same problem. No?

Where do these statements lead us to then?

  • First, it appears to me the appropriate word to describe the situation is UNCERTAINTY – in cancer, nothing is predictable – there is no black or white answer. Every cancer is a different shade of gray.  Is it not chaotic, having to deal with different cancers, different doctors and different patients all at the same time? It is like going into a race, each fighting for his / her own survival.

  • Second, a cancer treatment that works for one patient need not necessarily work for another patient. And yet we are being taught that modern medicine is proven and scientific. They give you a one-size-fits-all-treatment. No?

I often wonder and ask myself.

Patients ask their doctors if the chemo-drugs that they are about to receive for their cancer are going to be effective or not. Often the answer given is, “There is no guarantee! Just try and it all depends on the person.” Such answer sound rather odd, primitive and even unscientific!  Why do I say this? Oncologists administer chemo to hundreds of patients everyday or every month. And they have been doing this for years. In other words, they have been administering this treatment for years to thousands and thousands of their patients.  I would want to believe that in their hearts, they can sense (and know for sure) that what they are doing is going to be effective or not. After all they have the blood test results, CT scans, MRI or/and PET images to guide them.  I am sure there must be a certain “feeling” in them  or their sixth sense, to say that based on their vast experience what they are about to do is going to be helpful or not. But in spite of that, patients often get this standard answer, “I am not sure. I cannot guarantee. Let’s try.”

I understand why oncologists provide evasive answers. Initially I thought they have to safe guard their rice bowls.

 

But now I understand. Their answer reflects the reality of the complex situation. How can anyone know the exact outcome of the treatment when the cancer is actually different even if it is given the same name called cancer? To make things more difficult, the patients are also different – they react differently to the treatment.  Doctors treating the disease are also different.  The only same thing is the poisonous chemo-drug.

Because of complex variables involved we see that some patients survive while some patients die even before the cancer is done with; some are “cured” while for others the cancer spread to other organs.

Unfortunately, no one is able to predict with absolute certainty what is going to happen after the treatment is administered to a patient.  No one is sure of the real “ingredients” that make good successful treatment. One patient was told, “It depends on the One Upstairs!”  Now, they say it all depends on God!

 

 

Breast Lump: Get It Out

Let me reproduce an e-mail which I received from a lady in Italy on 26 June 2010.

Dear Dr. Teo,

My sister has a lump in her left breast. She found out about this lump, it was the size of a dollar coin, three years ago. Last year when she finally decided to tell us, her family, about it, it was already one breastful, 8cm in diameter. But she has decided not to do any surgery. It’s hard to accept her decision. My parents are very sad, but I’m trying to live with this. I know she’s very afraid but tries to act as if nothing’s happening.

I succeeded to bring her to a hospital to have a breast USG while I was home last year. I live in Italy and she lives in Jakarta, and it’s a bit complicated when you’re far from each other.

I’m writing to ask whether we could consult you. Reading from your website, I haven’t found anyone who hasn’t done any surgery prior to taking your herbs. Is it necessary that we do a complete blood test and bring it to you? The only medical record we have is the USG result done last year.

If you could give us some of your time, I’d like to arrange a visit with you for my sister in August 2011.

Thank you very much,

Yours truly,

YL, Italy

Reply: She has to remove the tumour. It is too big. Herbs cannot make the tumour go away.

Once in a while over the years, we have ladies coming to us with tumour(s) still in their breasts, like the case above. They had these tumour(s) for some months or years and did not do anything about it (them).  Okay, some did something like going to see certain alternative practitioners who assured them that there was nothing to worry about. They were told, Take this or do this and the lump will go away! And they believed these practitioners. Sad tragedy follows.

If you are one such lady, let me tell you this: Don’t be dumb! If you have a lump or lumps in your breast, please go and see a doctor and have it determined if it is malignant or not, i.e. whether it is a cancer or not.  If it is a cancer, my next advice is: Have a surgeon remove the tumour or your whole breast.

After surgery, it is a different “ball game” whether or not you want to undergo chemotherapy or/and radiotherapy. But to me, surgical removal is a wise option in dealing with a breast tumour. I recall many instances of ladies who came and “asked me to agree” that they don’t go for surgery. I told them: There is no way I would agree with that.   You come to me for advice and I give you my advice free of charge, based on my years of experience dealing with breast cancer. Some of them were disappointed because I insisted that they go for surgery. Some became  angry with me for not “supporting” them.

These are two main reasons why I thought the tumour has to be removed surgically.

  1. It is better to have the tumour removed for psychological reason. After the surgery, the lump is gone. You don’t have to see or feel it is there in your breast anymore. But if the lump remains in your breast, every day or perhaps every time of the day, you are being reminded of your “fatal disease”. Would that not make life miserable for you?
  2. There is no guarantee that herbs, change of diet, exercise, prayer, supplements, etc., can make a malignant tumour disappear. The bigger the tumour, the chance of it disappearing is even more remote. A lady told me that after taking herbs for some months the tumour in her breast “burst.” Another lady said her tumour “dropped” out and left a hole in her breast! All these do not solve the problem. Some patients say the herbs seemed to stop the tumour from growing but in other instances, the tumour kept growing in size. See the pictures below and decide for yourself if this is what you want.

 

We hope we have made CA Care’s position clear. Please go for surgery and have the cancerous lump removed. After this is done, we can discuss whether or not you want to undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy or take tamoxifen, etc. You have the option to make that decision.

We shall present you with two more reports on breast lumps – so, stay tuned.


Cancer: What It Takes To Be A Winner

Anne (not real name) is from Indonesia. She was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent eight cycles of chemotherapy. She suffered severe side effects. The treatment did not cure her. About five months after the completion of her chemotherapy, the cancer recurred. There was a 2x2x3 cm mass in her left cheek and a swelling in her left neck. The doctor asked her to undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy again. She refused.

She came to CA Care for herbs and changed her diet. After two months, Anne came back to Penang and reported that her health had improved tremendously. We then put Anne on the e-Therapy for a week. Her health improved further. A detail account of her healing is reported in another write-up, Lymphoma: Herbs and e-Therapy Brought Her Back to Good Life Again After Eight Chemos.

At the end of her stay in Penang, we pointed out to Anne that her improvement is all about herself. It was her attitude and her choice that made her well! We and people around her can only help but ultimately her success or failure depends entirely on herself – the patient.  Listen to our conversation that day.

There are three important lessons we can learn from this case.

1. Enough is enough. Eight cycles of chemos did not cure her cancer. She was asked to go for more chemos plus radiation. Anne took a step back and re-evaluated her path. What could more chemo do for her given that eight cycles did not help? Do you want to say enough is enough, or do you want to allow yourself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter? Of course, you and you alone will have to make THAT CHOICE  and bear the consequences of  your decisioin.

After the chemos Anne suffered pains. The only thing the doctor could do was to prescribe her painkillers and gastric medication for her bad stomach. She started to read the websites. She heard horror stories from friends about how patients died after the chemos, and she reflected on her own experiences. To Anne, chemotherapy had adverse side effects. It did not cure her. So she decided not to go through it again. She was afraid. Her husband said, She decided to go for Dr. Chris’ herbal therapy.

2. Get your priority right. Help yourself first before others can help you. Anne came to seek our help. She benefited tremendously from the herbs and change of diet. We did not expect Anne’s healing to happen so soon. But it did. We thank God for this blessing. On the night of her second visit here, we asked Anne if she would stay a few days longer in Penang so that she could do the e-Therapy. Anne readily agreed – I would stay here for as long as you want me to do so. It was indeed a positive attitude that brought more healing to her.

Many patients come to Penang. They would go shopping or go elsewhere first. On the last day of their stay, they would drop by CA Care. The next day they are booked to go home. Given such a situation, there is nothing much we could do to help them. Where and what is their priority? We told Anne, That night when you came, we did not plan to put you on the e-Therapy at all. If you had decided to go home the next day you would have missed your healing! But you made the right choice of wanting to stay back. And you benefited from the e-Therapy.

3. Read and gather information for yourself.  A friend gave Anne our book. She read it. Then she went into our websites. She read the healing stories. She was inspired by the story of a lawyer who had lymphoma like herself. Anne said, I read her story and I prayed and ask God if this was the way to go. Then I decided to go for herbs. I don’t want more chemo.

Unfortunately not many people are like Anne.  We receive many e-mails every day from almost every corner of the globe. Most of them expect information to be dished out to them on a silver platter. It becomes obvious to us that they don’t read. All that they wanted to know are already written in our websites – www.cacare.com or www.CancerCareMalaysia.com . They just need to read them.

Of course, there are those who just like to sit in front of the computer in the comfort of their home and expect us to send them herbs. And then want to know answers for every problem that might crop up. They seem to throw their problems at us and expect us to do the chores for them.  Go to our website: www.ADayWithChristeo.wordpress.com and these are examples of such e-mails.

This e-mail just came in while I was writing this article:

Dokter  Chris, kenapa dada pak sakit sampai kepunggung. Sudah beberapa hari tidak bisa tidur. Miring ke kanan sakit, miring ke kiri juga sakit. Saya R, anaknya di Jakarta (Doctor Chris, why is that my father has been having pains in the back for the past few days until he was not able to sleep. Could not turn to the right or left).

My reply: Before this no pain? What did he do wrong? Bad diet? Before this he was doing fine. The question you need to ask is: What did he do wrong just before the pains occurred?

Iya dokter, makan makan papa sedikit salah. Karena sebelumnya kondisi tubuhnya lemah tidak ada tenaga. Jadi dia ada makan sedikit pantangan untuk memulihkan kondisi tubuhnya. Apa yang harus kami lakukan dokter? (Yes doctor, a bit of wrong diet. He felt he did have energy. So he ate foods that were “forbidden”. What do we do now?)

I did not want to be cruel by telling him to go and jump into the sea. So my answer was, Take it easy. Let us hope that the pain will go away with time. Try the Pain Tea. Hope it helps. I did not remind him to stop taking the bad food, believing that he has learned it the hard way.

Let us remind you this. Cancer is not just about a tumour in your breast, lung or liver. It is about you, as a human being. There is this quotation, There is no incurable disease, only incurable people.

Unfortunately our experience tells that only 30 percent of patients who come to us benefit from our therapy, the remaining 70 percent cannot. We emphasize the word again, CANNOT. You may wish to ask us why cannot. We hope patients know that one of the most important criteria for success is the person himself. It is not just about the herbs. Many patients come to us with a very high expectation for finding a magic bullet. There is none here.

We have refrained from giving advice or prescribing herbs through the net. It is just a futile effort. If your problem is serious enough, or if your loved one is precious enough, come and see us face to face. Bring along your medical reports and we shall try to help you out. By doing this, we would be able to assess the patient (or those taking care of the patient) as a person.

After knowing the medical history, we would then prescribe the herbs. Prescribing herbs is a very simple thing to do. We often tell patients, After talking to you for five minutes, we would probably know if we can help you or not. Perhaps, most patients don’t even understand what we meant by this. Patients come looking for a magic bullet. They want to find a cure on their own terms. They carry so much baggage and they don’t realize that.

Our experience tells us that if you want to heal yourself, one most important thing you must do is CHANGE – change your attitude, your lifestyle and your diet. There is no two ways about it.

We can only guide you, but patients must take care to heal themselves!

CANCER: How to Make Decisions to Increase Your Odd of Winning

We make decisions every day. Some decisions are just over trivial matters. For some people, their decisions can be a “mother” of all decisions – especially if you or your loved one is being diagnosed with dreadful diseases like cancer.  The consequence of your decisions can be a matter of living or dying.  I always say this to cancer patients, Listen to whatever comments or advices others give you, but remember that at the end of it all, you and you alone are going to bear the consequences of that decision. YOU suffer or you die, NOT them. 

Out of curiosity, before setting out to write this article I “googled”, How to make decisions to increase your odd of winning. The returns obtained were about roulette, blackjack, poker, betting, slot machine and investment, nothing about cancer!

The reality is that obtaining a cure for cancer is just like “striking the jackpot” (quoting a well known oncologist in Singapore).  His statement implies that undergoing cancer treatment is not much different from going to a casino.  The outcome is as uncertain as rolling the die. There would be losers and winners. And we know the odd of winning is very low indeed.  In fact, any honest and seasoned oncologist would not even use the word “cure” for cancer treatment – they only talk about remission.

Researchers, scientists, doctors, etc. follow different protocols when making decisions. But the essential element is the same – it must be based on research data. By studying the data we hope to be able to increase our odds to win.

Theorist Versus Frequentist

Professor Stephen Schneider (in The Patient from Hell) explained this very well.

“In every course I teach I like to demonstrate the difference between two ways of thinking by using the example of a coin toss. I flip a coin onto the back of my hand and cover it. “What is the probability of the coin under my hand is heads?” “One-half”, someone always shouts out. “How do you know?” “Well, the coin has two sides”. You’re a theorist!

“Suppose you didn’t understand the coin toss theory and didn’t realize that there was an equal chance of flipping heads or tails? You just keep flipping it and count the number of heads and tails. You’re a frequentist! You want to put together a frequency chart … make a table with a column for heads and a column for tails and them you want to flip the coin multiple times. If you flip it often enough and the coin is unloaded, you’ll end up with frequency statistics showing an approximately 50 percent chance of flipping heads or flipping tails.”

“This is how scientists like to work: They like to have masses of data they can use to create probability distributions that depict the likelihood of potential outcomes… then scientists can make estimates that have high confidence levels. It’s the same in medicine. Doctors like looking at data from clinical trials performed on hundreds of patients over many years, which can provide clear evidence as to whether certain treatments are effective, on average.”

“Unfortunately, the questions … can’t be solved using … frequency data, because they involve many components of deep uncertainty.”

Professor Schneider concluded:

“Some scientists, including many medical doctors, still seem to be living in the nineteenth century in this respect, thinking that for any question, infinite sets of replicable experiments should be performed, providing them with data from which they can calculate probabilities … and “scientifically” tackle the problem at hand. Unfortunately, in the real world, as topics of inquiry become increasingly complex and involve questions about the future, scientists do not always enjoy the luxury of extensive, comprehensive and reliable frequency data when they need them.”

Intuition and Commonsense

At CA Care, I have a different view about how to solve problems.  While data based on clinical trial is a good way to indicate our chances of obtaining certain benefits or survival, etc., the data need NOT apply to you as a patient. For example, if you undergo chemo, the 5-year survival rate is 30%. You may belong to that 30% who survived or you may belong to the 70% who don’t survive. Nobody can tell for sure which group you belong to. So research data like that only provides you with a confidence level, saying that what you are going to do has a certain degree of probability that you are right.

So at CA Care I tell cancer patients to make decisions based on intuition and common sense.  Experiences show that at times certain thing happens beyond the understanding of science, yet the “heart” seems to “sense” it. Patients come to me asking if they should undergo chemotherapy or not. My answer is: What does your heart say? I do not ask, What did your doctor say or what did your relatives or friends say. My advice is, Follow your heart or the Inner Voice within you.

This does not mean that I ask you to ignore scientific data. Bear in mind that I was once a researcher and a scientist. But I also know that science deals only with the physical realm. You and I and life are made up of the sum total of the physical and spiritual realms.  The spiritual realm is superior to the physical realm. The spiritual realm impacts the physical realm. Science believes the opposite – the physical is everything and the spiritual does not exist and is totally ignored.

So for any life and death decision, I believe you cannot ignore your spiritual self. Also, I urge you to use your commonsense. There is a saying, Educated men need not be wise, and wise men need not be educated. Each of us is capable of making wise decision – you don’t need to be a scientist to make wise decisions. In order to guide you to make decisions, I say you need to consider the pros and cons –  a more scholarly term is to carry out a Cost-Benefit Analysis. Count your costs and weigh them against the benefits. Decide for yourself what you really want out of this life. Doctors have their own perspectives of what is good for you. Their value judgment may differ greatly from yours or may be even opposite of yours.  Following totally the doctors’ advice means you totally agree with their value judgment. Is this what you really want?

The function of CA Care is to provide you with honest, unbiased information of the various options available to you. Having done that, it is up to you to make your own decision based on what you think is right for you. We do NOT talk the language of doctors. We don’t think like them too. But this does make us anti-doctors. CA Care is not anti-doctors.  Everyone who comes to see us is advised to consult his/her doctor first.  If you want to do chemo, radiotherapy, etc.  and etc., go ahead and do it. The only thing we tell you is, You are responsible for the consequences of your decisions. Don’t use our herbs your scapegoat. If is most unfair to come back and blame us when things go wrong. Unfortunately some patients do that.

I am not alone in advocating such practice.  Let me quote Professor Schneider again:

“What is “dangerous” is a value judgment …  It is the policymakers  who need to decide whether risks are acceptable … or should be ignored …. We scientists can provide policymakers with information on which they can better make these decisions. In a medical setting, the science comes from medical research studies and doctors’ opinion based on their experience with data on, and knowledge of the subject. The “policymakers” are the patients, who, working together with their doctors, must make value judgment about what health risks to take.”

Experience of a Near-Missed Flight

Let me relate what happened to us a few days ago while wanting to fly home from the US. Our flights involved Delta 1097 from Raleigh-Durham (RDU) to Los Angeles (LAX) – Taipei – Penang. It does not take a scientist to know that if Delta 1097 is delayed, we would have missed the other connecting flights. I knew where the “weakness” was. And we must be well prepared for it.

From the Airline’s website, we studied the history of Delta 1097. For the past eight days (Table below) DL 1097 had always left RDU at about 8 pm and arrived LAX by about 10 pm.  Since we have to be at the check-in counter of China Airlines by about 12 midnight for the connecting flight to Taipei, I figured out I have ample time. So our risk of missing the connection is very slim. There would be no problem!   So my daughter bought the Delta ticket with full confidence that everything would be alright.

27-June
Raleigh-Durham (KRDU)
Los Angeles
09:56PM EDT
11:35PM PDT
4:39
26-June
Raleigh-Durham  (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:15PM EDT
09:59PM PDT
4:44
24-June
Raleigh-Durham  (KRDU)
Los Angeles
07:51PM EDT
09:54PM PDT
5:03
23-June
Raleigh-Durham  (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:39PM EDT
10:31PM PDT
4:52
22-June
Raleigh-Durham (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:48PM EDT
10:38PM PDT
4:50
20-June
Raleigh-Durham  (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:12PM EDT
10:22PM PDT
5:10
19-June
Raleigh-Durham (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:07PM EDT
10:04PM PDT
4:57
17-June
Raleigh-Durham (KRDU)
Los Angeles
07:52PM EDT
10:07PM PDT
5:15
16-June
Raleigh-Durham (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:12PM EDT
10:12PM PDT
5:00
15-June
Raleigh-Durham (KRDU)
Los Angeles
08:10PM EDT
10:04PM PDT
4:54

Somehow on the evening of 25 June, I did not feel good about our flight home on 27 June. Something in me – my intuition – was saying that something was going to go wrong.  I requested our daughter to find an alternative flight – probably taking the flight a day before or a flight in the morning on the same day. This would mean we could be in Los Angeles well ahead of time. I was fully aware that my request made my daughter “go crazy.” Daddy must be mad to cook up something like this. Why push the panic button unnecessarily? This is what they call “borrowing worry.” But anyway, we tried to “fix” my concern the next day. Unfortunately we could not find any slot in spite of the many possible flights out of RDU.

Looking at the flight data above, the worse delay that had ever occurred so far was on 22 June. The flight was delayed by about an hour due to poor weather in Atlanta – thus causing a chain reaction. My son (in training to be a scientist too, doing Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at M.D. Anderson!) assured me that based on the above data, there should NOT be any reason why I should lose my sleep. He predicted the flight would go as schedule. The previous delay was due to weather condition. But in my case, the weather was fine.  Disruption by weather condition in summer is rare.  So in theory the odd against serious flight delay is minimal in my case.  So, we made a “scientific decision” just like oncologists do when they give patients chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Before going to the airport, I was tracking the flight schedule at home. Everything seemed to be okay. With confidence, on 27 June, we drove to the airport to catch our DL 1097. It was about 5 pm then and we were about to arrive at the airport. My daughter’s mobile phone rang. She picked it up. Then there was a sober silence.  I asked,  Delta called? Flight delay?   Irene (a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. intern at Duke University), being a very gentle lady that she always is, said, Papa, please don’t panic. Yes, the flight was delayed until 9.15 pm! In actual fact, it was not really 9.15 pm. The flight only took off at 10 pm.  This was the worst delay ever recorded. I told my daughter, My intuition turned out correct. We will take it easy. This thing happened for a reason. But it  not as critical as those cancer patients whose lives have been turned upside down and inside out after being told they have cancer. Take it positively.

In theory this delay put the probability of us missing our connecting flight as extremely high. I remember thinking what would happen to all those cancer patients who wanted to see me on Friday, I July afternoon. They had bought their tickets to fly in from Indonesia and Singapore hoping to see me.  They would be disappointed.

Our “fighting” instinct took over.  We were supposed to go for our dinner first before arriving at the airport. We had already checked in on-line. Because of what had happened we drove straight to the airport. We talked to the Delta people and asked for possible alternative routing or airline. Unfortunately, there was no other option left. We still have to take Delta 1097 and bet on our luck.

Imagine the predicament I would face – what was I to do after landing in Los Angeles in the middle of the night? Where to go? How to find another flight to come home?

To cut the story short, we did not miss our connection! On Wednesday 27 June we landed home safely in Penang as scheduled. How did we pull this off?

These are the reasons why.

  1. We did not panic and kept our cool. Instead of cursing Delta, we accepted the situation.
  2. We started to take positive actions to solve the problem – taking the bull by the horn! We drove to the airport right away instead of going to dinner first. We had to find the solution to our problem and did not allow the problem to revolve by itself or taking it “lying down.”
  3. We talked to the Delta staff. David, the gentleman who handled our case, was very helpful but he could not offer any alternative flight. They were either all full or not suitable.  But one thing David did right, which I believe helped increased our odd at “winning”. David offered to transfer our baggage from Delta to China Airlines without us having to wait at the baggage area and collect it personally. This is something the airline does not normally do because we have separate tickets for both flights from different airlines. No doubt about it, if we have to wait to collect our baggage, we would definitely miss our connecting flight.
  4. Then, we worked out a back-up plan, should we miss the connecting flight. This provided us with peace of mind. We knew exactly that we would have to do. The fear of being left stranded in the big Los Angeles airport in the middle of the night evaporated. After this was sorted out, we went for our dinner. I ordered an extra-large bowl of Vietnamese noodle – and there were no butterflies in my stomach!
  5. Looking at my watch before the plane was about to land in Los Angeles, I felt we would miss the connecting flight. I made another move.  I relayed our problem to the flight attendants and asked for help.  I requested to pick up my hand-on and let us be the first ones to get out of the plane. The male steward listened to my request and shrugged his shoulders. Either he did not understand me or he was dumb or was not the helpful type. I then talked to the female attendant in charge and she understood me.  She made an announcement requesting other passengers to hold on to allow us to leave first.  I looked at my watch again. We only had 10 minutes to get out of the plane and rushed from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 where China Airlines is. That was a big deal.
  6. My daughter took another positive step. She informed the China Airline counter about our problem. So when we arrived at the check-in counter at 12 midnight, we were attended to right away.
  7. Three weeks earlier, when my wife and I arrived at the Los Angeles airport, I did my homework. In preparation for such anticipated problem, I took time and walked around to study the layout of the airport. I made sure I know how to get to the International terminal from the Delta terminal.  I had to turn left not right! So I have done my homework well ahead of time.

What a relief after being given the boarding pass by China Airlines. There was no more fear that we would miss our flight!  My wife and I went through the security check.

Feeling relieved, I became complacent. I blindly followed other passengers to the boarding gate and couldn’t careless to check what our depart gate was, as printed on our boarding pass. After all the planning and rushing, you believe that Chris Teo would do such a silly thing? We ended going to the wrong end of the terminal. The China Airline boarding gate was on the opposite end of the terminal.  I should have checked first and turned right instead of left. I did not do that and was complacent. I should not have followed other passengers blindly! Again, it was a mad rush. The plane took off about 30 minutes late, not because of my fault though – it was a full-load and that took time to get everyone on board.

Lessons We Can Learn

I have never been in such a predicament before. But I must say, my predicament was not anywhere near what cancer patients experience after being told that they have cancer. I am also not saying that the way I solve my problem is the best way. You may have your own way – so be it. Nevertheless, I believe there are some basic ingredients in every successful endeavor – whether missing a plane flight or having cancer.  These are some important points to remember.

  1. Don’t panic when confronted with a problem.
  2. Everything in life happens for a reason. Later on you may want to find that reason but for the moment, it is not the time to find that reason. No need to ask why. No need to find a scapegoat.
  3. Take positive actions to resolve the problem. Give your best shot. This is your problem. If you do not show much interest to help yourself, don’t expect others to help you.

I receive e-mails from patients every day. Indeed I felt disappointed reading some of them. Many like to throw their problems at me and expect me to solve their problems while they sit in front of their computers at home! My answer has always been: If I can help you, please come and see me. If you cannot come and see me, how do you expect me to give you my full attention?

Please read the e-mails below.

  • Hi Dr Teo, Thank you for your prompt response. I am from Singapore. In fact, I had placed an order for Rodent Tuber capsules from one supplier in Malaysia as my mother had problem taking the grinded fresh rodent tuber plant since she complaint of biting on the tongue and throat. Besides this plant, she is constantly seeking TCM treatment.

Reply: That stuff cannot possibly be from CA Care. We don’t do things like that. Patients need to come and see me with all the medical reports before we give out our herbs.

  • Thanks for your reply. I had gone into your homepage. In my mom’s case, there was no biopsy done. It’s merely from the X-ray done that the doctor concluded that it’s advanced stage lung cancer (both sides). If I can get hold of the X-ray results and emailed to you, is it possible for you to give some recommendation?

My reaction: How serious or valuable is her mother’s life? Sitting in front of a computer is not going to help much.

 4.    Formulate a back-up plan in case the first plan fails. This is the reason why I often tell patients, If you do not get any better or benefit after two weeks of taking the herbs and changing your diet, please go to someone else for help.  

Goh is a 58-year male with multiple myeloma. He received 22 cycles of chemo and suffered a relapse. He was asked to undergo 32 cycles more of chemo. After 6 cycles of the second round of chemo, he gave up due to severe side effects. What does commonsense tell you about such a case?

5.    Share your problems with others. There may be opportunities that you may not know about.  If presented courteously, those in the position to help may offer extraordinary help to solve your problem. In my near-miss flight, David at the RDU airport and the female flight attendant had contributed positively. Without their help I am sure we would have missed the connecting flight.

6.    Do your homework. This again is one thing that upset me after reading e-mails from patients. People who wrote me did not read our website carefully enough. Most of the things you need to know about cancer and how to go about it, can be found in our website. What you need to DO is just read them – and I know most of them don’t read. They want me to serve them the information on a silver platter. Remember that knowledge is power. There is a Chinese saying: Dig your well before you become thirsty. Do that if you are wise.

7.    Don’t be complacent. I almost had to pay for my own foolishness. Many cancer patients become complacent after they get well – they think they have already solved their problem. Such people would then go back to their old ways and fall into the same hole again. Cancer can recur. To me, there is no such thing as a permanent cure for cancer.  So don’t be misled.

Let me give you one example. There was this elderly lady with colon cancer. She refused chemotherapy and was with us for more than three years now. She was doing very well. Lately, she told her family that she was fed up taking the herbs besides having to take care of her diet. She and her family came to see us. I gave her a big smile and laughed. And I said, It is fine with me. It is your life and if you wish to “go home early” that is okay too.  After all many of us believe that living in this world is nothing else but suffering. But if you want me to agree to what you want to do, I must say you are foolish. Why do you want to change something that has made you well in the first place? Anyway, if the cancer comes back, you can always go for chemo. You have not done that yet!  The problem with cancer is that we do not know when it will strike back again. There is no room for complacency.

 

Dissecting Chemotherapy Part 6: Avastin Does NOT Cure Cancer

The Story of Avastin That You Need to Know

On February 26, 2004, the FDA approved Avastin (or  bevacizumab) as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, i.e., cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Avastin  was shown to extend patients’ lives by about five months when given  as a combination treatment along with standard chemotherapy drugs for colon cancer (the “Saltz regimen” also known as IFL). IFL treatment includes ironotecan, 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and leucovorin.

Source: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/druginfo/fda-bevacizumab#Anchor-Approva-23287

Take note of this fact carefully and serious ly – nowhere in the medical literature does it say Avastin cures cancer. It does not. When given with IFL, Avastin made patients lived longer by about five months. That was all. And the average time before tumors started regrowing or new tumors appeared was four months longer than patients receiving IFL alone.

Avastin Approved As Second-Line Treatment of Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

On June 20, 2006, the FDA granted approval for Avastin for use as second-line treatment of metastatic carcinoma of the colon or rectum. This recommendation is based on the demonstration of improvement in  overall survival  (OS) of patients receiving Avastin plus FOLFOX4 (5-flourouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) when compared to those receiving FOLFOX4 alone.

Mean overall survival of patients receiving Avastin + FOLFOX4 was 13.0 months while those receiving FOLFOX4 alone was 10.8 months.

Source: Source:  http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/druginfo/fda-bevacizumab#Anchor-Approva-51277

Take note again. Patients receiving Avastin + FOLFOX4 lived longer by only 2.2 months. Avastin did not cure. It only extended life by 2.2 months. Is that what patients want? Do oncologists clearly tell this fact to patients before they give them Avastin?

 Each Avastin injection cost a lot of money. It is NOT cheap for most people. Money is one point, Avastin comes with a bunch of devastating side effects. The most serious, and sometimes fatal side effects of Avastin are:

  • gastrointestinal perforation,
  • wound healing complications,
  • hemorrhage,
  • thromboembolic events,
  • hypertensive crisis,
  • nephrotic syndrome and
  • congestive heart failure.

The most common adverse events in patients receiving Avastin are:  asthenia (fatigue or weakness), pain, abdominal pain, headache, hypertension, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, stomatitis, constipation, upper respiratory infection, epistaxis (nose bleed), dyspnea (shortness of breath –SOB), exfoliative dermatitis and proteinuria (excess proteins in the urine).  Source: http://www.avastin.com/avastin/patient/crc/index.html#/crc/treatment/

Avastin for Colon Cancer – Any good?

A posting on 19 September 2010 has this heading:  Second Avastin Trial Shows No Benefit in Early Stage Colon Cancer. Adding Avastin to chemotherapy for early stage colon cancer didn’t reduce the risk that cancer would return. Source: http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/research_news/2010/09/second_avastin_trial_shows

A statement released by the drug company, Roche of Switzerland (http://www.roche.com/investors/ir_update/inv-update-2010-09-18b.htm) stated that:

  • A study known as AVANT evaluated the use of Avastin plus chemotherapy in the adjuvant treatment (immediately after surgery) of early-stage colon cancer. The results did not show that it improved disease-free survival in stage III colon cancer.
  • Evaluation of Avastin in the early-stage setting, the AVANT study shows that standard chemotherapy plus one year of Avastin is NOT effective in reducing the risk of relapses in early-stage colon cancer.

In another posting on 25 Janruary2011,entitled: AVANT Says No Avastin Benefit in Stage III Colon Cancer

Source:  http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/research_news/2011/01/avant_says_no_avastin_benefit_in_stage_iii_colon_cancer

A second randomized clinical trial has confirmed what the first one found — adding Avastin to standard chemotherapy does not reduce recurrences after surgery for stage III colon cancer. In presenting the trial results at the 2011 GI Symposium, Aimery De Gramont, MD, PhD, concluded:

  • The addition of Avastin to FOLFOX4 or XELOX did not improve disease-free survival  (DFS) in the adjuvant treatment of Stage III colon cancer.
  • Immature overall survival data suggest a potential detriment.
  1. In the first year, there was a transient favorable effect.
  2. The treatment effect became unfavorable after one year.

What the Mass Media Said

Avastin Falls Short in Test as Colon Cancer Medicine. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/23/health/23avastin.html

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times, wrote on 22 April 2009: In results from a widely watched clinical trial, the drug Avastin failed to show a significant effect on preventing the recurrence of colon cancer.  Avastin had sales of $2.7 billion in the United States alone last year.

Melly Alazrakip of Daily Finance wrote: Roche’s Avastin Fails in Early-Stage Colon Cancer Study

Source:  http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/09/20/avastin-cancer-drug-roche-fails-colon-study/

The top-selling cancer-fighting drug Avastin, which was once believed to have the potential to help treat many cancers, has hit another roadblock in testing. In a recent Phase III study, Avastin failed to improve disease-free survival in early-stage colon cancer patients when administered immediately after surgery.

Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, said data from the study showed that adding Avastin to standard chemotherapy for one year after surgery wasn’t effective in reducing the risk of relapses. Indeed, the data showed better outcomes for standard chemotherapy alone.

As the world’s best-selling cancer drug, Avastin recorded nearly $6 billion in sales last year.
Avastin has experienced other setbacks this year, including Great Britain again refusing to approve Avastin for colorectal cancer on the basis of its poor cost-effectiveness, and another late-stage study showing Avastin failed to extend survival in men with advanced prostate cancer, compared to current treatments.

Take note here: Avastin is not allowed in Great Britain on the basis of poor cost-effectiveness.

In the poor developing countries, Avastin can be used? Is that logical?

Avastin for Other Cancers

In spite of its poor performance, Avastin had and is being used rather commonly for the following cancers:

  1. Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma (mRCC)
    Avastin is indicated for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma in combination with interferon alfa.
  2. Non–Squamous Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)
    Avastin is indicated for the first-line treatment of unresectable, locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic non–squamous non–small cell lung cancer in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel.
  3. Brain cancer.
  4. Just not too long ago, Avastin was also approved for the treatment of breast cancer.

Castle Built On Sand – Avastin for Breast Cancer

Andrew Pollack of the New York Times (23 February 2008,http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/business/23drug.html)

reported that the FDA approved Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer – a decision that appeared rather baffling to the common mind.  But as always, we know that a FDA  approval  means an additional hundreds of millions of dollars of annual sales to Avastin.

As a breast cancer treatment, Avastin costs about UD$7,700 a month, or US$92,000 a year.

Let us look at the results of the clinical trial on which the approval was based.

  • Women who received Avastin in combination with the chemo-drug Taxol (or paclitaxel) had a median of 11.3 months before their cancer worsened or they died, in contrast women who received Taxol alone had a median of  5.8 months. This means Avastin only delayed cancer worsening by 5.5 months.
  • Women who received Avastin lived a median of 26.5 months, compared with 24.8 months for those getting Taxol alone — life extension that was not statistically significant. This means Avastin prolonged life by 1.7 months which is meaningless and this difference could just be due to chance and not real.
  • Moreover, the women receiving Avastin suffered more side effects. And 5 or 6 of them out of 363 died from the drug itself.

In spite of such miserable performance, Avastin was approved for breast cancer treatment. And many patients in this part of the world, including Malaysia, were given Avastin by their oncologists.

A castle built on sand would not last! 

Matthew Perone of the Associated Press, on 15 December 2010 wrote:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40702735/ns/health-cancer/t/avastin-shouldnt-be-used-breast-cancer-fda-says/

Federal health authorities recommended Thursday that the blockbuster drug Avastin no longer be used to treat breast cancer, saying recent studies failed to show the drug’s original promise to help slow the disease and extend patients’ lives.

The ruling is a significant setback for the world’s best-selling cancer drug and will likely cost Swiss drugmaker Roche hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

The FDA approved Avastin for breast cancer in 2008 based on one study suggesting it halted the spread of breast cancer for more than five months when combined with chemotherapy. But follow-up studies showed that the delay lasted no more than three months, and patients suffered dangerous side effects.

Roche sells the drug at a wholesale price of $7,700 a month. When infusion charges are included, a year’s treatment with Avastin can run to more than $100,000.

Comment 

Avastin – it is all about big money but the results of Avastin are just miserable. It falls far short of the patients’ expectation. They expect the chemo drug to cure their cancers or at least prolong their lives for many more years! The truth is, Avastin does not and cannot do that!

Why Patients Refused to Undergo Chemotherapy, Part 3

A continuation from Part 1: Why Patients Refused to Undergo Chemotherapy, https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2011/04/19/why-patients-refused-to-undergo-chemtherapy-part-1/

Part 2: Why Patients Refused to Undergo Chemotherapy, https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2011/05/03/why-patients-refused-to-undergo-chemotherapy-part-2/

Case 9: Uncle Died After Chemo

A lady came to see us on behalf of her mother who was diagnosed with cancer. The surgeon said that her mother had to undergo chemotherapy. The family refused chemotherapy.

Why the family refused chemo:  Why did you not want her to do chemo? Because of her age – she is already 75 years old. Her brother, that is my uncle, had lung cancer and he was then only 68 years old. He died – could not take the chemo. He went for chemo – after the first chemo he became very weak. Then during the second chemo, he became unconscious and died.

The first time he was already weak – why continue with the second one? I don’t know la. Within two weeks – the first chemo and the second chemo – only two weeks and he died.

What do you mean? The first chemo was the first week, and the second chemo was one week later.

Within two weeks he died? Ya


Case 10:  Niece Died After Chemo

This lady was diagnosed with Lymphoma and the only treatment available to her was chemotherapy. She refused chemotherapy.

Why she refused chemotherapy:   The daughter of my younger sister had cancer. She had an operation followed by chemotherapy.  She died. My sister pleaded with me: “Sister, please … please listen to me. Do not go for chemotherapy. You will die.” My niece had two or three times of chemo and she was bald. Then she died. My sister told me not to go for chemo. I also do not want to go for chemo. My husband and children also told me not to go for chemo.

 

Case 11: My Friend Died After Four Cycles of Chemo

This young man is from Indonesia. He was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago. He was asked to undergo chemotherapy. He refused.

Why he refused chemotherapy:  I do not want chemo! Doctors in Medan asked me to undergo chemotherapy since 2009 (i.e., two years ago). I refused.

Why did you refuse: Because of the adverse side effects!

How did you know the side effects were bad? From friends! One of my friends had colon cancer and another had breast cancer. Both of them had surgery. Then they went for chemo. The one with breast cancer was bad. She died. She received four cycles of chemotherapy and she died never completing the full treatment. The one with colon cancer received two cycles of chemo. Then he gave up. And he is still alive today.

What could have happened if he was to continue with chemo? May be dead by now (laugh). That is why I refused to go for chemo. My friend is alive and alright today. It has been three years now.


Case 12: I saw and I knew that chemotherapy did not cure cancer

Guat had breast cancer for many years.  It started with a small lump in her breat. When the tumour grew bigger (almost half a kilo!), she agreed to go for surgery but refused chemotherapy or radiotherapy.  She kept herself alive doing what she thought was good for her. She took herbs, supplements, etc. and had a very positive outlook of life. She learned to live with her breast cancer for more than ten years. Later, the cancer spread to her lungs and she eventually died.

We had a chance to talk to Guat. She shared her experiences and views about medical treatments for cancer.

Why she refused chemotherapy and medical treatments: I have seen many people with cancer. After chemo they also died in less than two years! I have seen many such cases. They suffered while undergoing chemo but at the end they all died anyway. So why suffer? After my surgery I was asked to go for radiotherapy to prevent recurrence, according to the doctor. I declined. Let it recur first and then we deal with it. I refused to go for chemo. Assuming after the surgery I would die within two years. It’s okay, at least I don’t have to suffer. If I go for chemo, there is no guarantee of a cure.

From what you observed – people who had chemo or radiation, don’t they benefit from the treatments? They suffered so much. I would rather not suffer and prefer to die sooner without   chemo. It is okay for me. I don’t want to suffer. For example, with chemo I would survive for two and a half years, without chemo two years. I would chose two years of quality life. You can take that half a year away. It is okay if I die sooner.

You made all these decisions on your own or were you influenced by others? I made my own decisions based on my observations of what happened to others. Many people tell me many things. I listened to their stories but at the end I made up my own mind. For example when I had a small lump in my breast, I decided to take chances and dealt with it the way I thought was right for me.  The lump grew bigger and bigger. I knew then that there was no hope that it would go away. So I decided to go for surgery. But when the doctor suggested radiotherapy to prevent recurrence, I said no. I told him, if there was to be a recurrence, we would deal with the problem as it occurs, not now. Even with radiation, I have seen many cases of recurrences.

I knew a few patients who had cancer. They underwent chemo – and all of them died, including your own distant relative – you remember?

When you see the doctors, they tell you to go for chemo. But there is no guarantee that chemo can cure. It cost RM 30,000 for the treatment. For a poor patient it is a lot of money. One doctor said this to my friend: “It is your mother, why don’t you want to “save” her? True, even a dog, we also want to save its life let alone a mother. But when the treatment cost so much money, where to find the money? Worse still, there is no guarantee that chemo can cure anyway. Unfortunately, many “village folks” don’t know how to respond to such “scolding” from their doctors. I am not angry, but I think doctors should not talk like that!

 

 

Read more about what they say about chemo …

  1. Killer cancer treatment: How toxic chemotherapy kills both cancer cells and cancer patients http://www.naturalnews.com/012727.html
  2. Can you trust chemotherapy to cure your cancer? http://www.ener-chi.com/trustchemo.htm
  3. Questioning Chemotherapy: How chemotherapy does not cure cancer or extend life.  http://www.drheise.com/chemotherapy.htm
  4. Argument against chemotherapy. http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=255

 

One reader sent us this comment:
My niece passed away this morning.  No, not from cancer! From chemo !!!   Her chemo did not even last her more than two months!! This is why so many holistic doctors say our modern GOLD-CLASS CANCER TREATMENTS kill faster than smoking.   More: http://twitpic.com/4wjd8f

I know of another who died after one and a half years of chemo (stomach cancer). He was barely 25.  And another…they let him have sleeping drugs instead.  He was my uncle… Sleeping drugs killed him in four day (he had advanced cancer in pancreas, liver and lungs).
WHERE IS THE FIGHT AGAINST CANCER?
If a fruit doesn’t cure, they say the person who promoted the fruit is a quack!
But when it comes to cancer medicine and therapy, if it does not work, it is not quackery!
Is there SOMETHING WRONG with our medical industry?  YOU TELL ME!

Note: We have documented 12 cases of why patients refused to do chemo – so, enough is enough?

 “For those who believe, no proof is necessary.

For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.”