MW is a 47-year-old vegetable seller at a wet market in Singapore. He is a jovial man! His problem started about 9 years ago, August 2007, when he passed out blood in his stool. He went to a “very good” doctor in a private hospital and was told he had colon cancer. He underwent a surgery. MW was fitted with a colostomy bag for a while and then underwent a second operation to rejoin his colon. MW said the total treatment cost is about SGD 40,000.
After the surgery the surgeon said there was NO need to undergo any chemotherapy, radiotherapy or take any medication.
Since MW did not bring his medical reports, I am not able to know more about his colon cancer.
About 9 years later, MW suffered a relapse. A PET-CT scan showed:
- soft tissue lesion involving the prostate.
- several sub-centimeter lung nodules.
His CEA in February 2017 was 34.0 (high).
MW consulted an oncologist in a government hospital. He was told to undergo chemotherapy. The drugs to be used are either: Oral capecitabine (Xeloda) + oxaliplatin injection, or Oral capecitabine (Xeloda) + Irrinocetan.
MW hesitated to undergo chemotherapy. The oncologist told him, If you do not want to undergo chemotherapy, then no need to come and see me. Don’t waste my time. I have too many patients to take care.
Through the recommendation of a friend, MW went to Thailand for further treatment in September 2017. A six-week treatment in Thailand cost him about SGD 40,000.
Did the treatment in Thailand help you? MW said he felt better and his CEA dropped from 34 to 8. But unfortunately, MW said, This improvement was not sustainable.
After MW returned to Singapore, his CEA increased to 18.0
Did they ask you to go back again for more treatment? They never suggest that but I decided not to go back there again. I already spent so much money. In addition, the patient who recommended me to that place also suffered the same fate like me. Her well being worsened again.
There are a few lessons that we can learn from this story.
- Surgery did not cure cancer!
Over the years dealing with cancer patients, I have learned that patients like to hear what they only want to hear! They believe that “doctors know all” and whatever their doctors say will be the whole truth!
Listen to what Dr. Veatch said:
With due respect to the learned surgeon. He did his best and he believed that he “Got it all out.” That is what all patients want to hear any way!
- Cancer can come back again.
The truth is, if you think you are done with your cancer, know that the cancer may not be done with you yet!
In this case, MW was told everything was removed — “clean” and he was cured by the surgery! Nine years later, we know that his doctor was wrong.
Here is another quotation for you to reflect on.
Dr. Barry Boyd highlighted what happens today in most health care settings. And probably this is going to happen in the future too. It happens in America and it happens in Singapore and Malaysia!
- To stay healthy is your responsibility.
I always remind patients to be careful — take steps to take care of yourself to minimize the possible recurrence of your cancer! Yes, you can do that but your doctors may not tell you, or may not know what to tell you!
You need to seek out such information yourself. Understand that to stay healthy or to get sick is your responsibility, not your doctor’s.
But take it from me, most patients couldn’t care less about my advice!