Cancer: Why Some Patients Choose Not to Undergo Invasive Medical Treatments

Eveline Gan wrote an interesting article: Treatment for cancer? No thanks, say some patients (28 April 2018, https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/treatment-cancer-no-thanks-say-some-patients). Try to read this article if you have time. For those who don’t want to know more, let me quote some of the salient points that the author said about cancer treatment in Singapore.

  1. Medical advances have made many cancers highly treatable or potentially curable, especially when detected early, but it is not uncommon for doctors to meet patients who refuse standard treatments.
  1. One in five patients might decline treatment when they first see a cancer doctor due to various reasons.
  1. Some patients opt to rely on the power of their faith, while others hold negative views of standard treatments and think they will end up worse off as a result.
  1. While most patients who refuse treatment are in the terminal stages of the disease, this is not always so… some are even in the early stages of cancer.
  1. Although doctors strive to provide the right information to those afflicted with cancer, treatment decisions are highly personal and patients’ wishes should be respected.
  1. Some patients also believe treatment for cancer causes more harm than good, and may prefer to rely on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
  1. Patients who rely solely on CAM “may have heard about the harmful side effects of treatment from friends and loved ones who have suffered after undergoing treatment or might have passed away sooner than expected. But this point of view may not be correct as it is often the cancer, not the treatment, that killed them”.
  1. “Usually, the issues patients deal with while on treatment are the toxicities of the drug …. With the newer range of drugs and less toxic side effects, things have improved.”
  1. Nonetheless, it is “not illogical” for some advanced cancer patients to refuse treatment that may prolong life but will not cure them.
  1. “Death comes to all of us, and early open conversations about death, preference of treatment and end-of-life placement should be as automatic and practical as planning for your will.”

Dr. Wachter wrote this article for The New York Times, The Problem With Miracle Cancer Cures, 19 April 2018. He said:

  1. I frequently care for patients with advanced cancer. A majority have already tried some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Many have landed back in the hospital because the cancer has returned or spread widely, and left them in intractable pain or struggling to breathe.
  1. Over the past 20 years, evidence has demonstrated that palliative care decreases pain, improves comfort, and in some cases, prolongs life by a few months. In my experience, conversations about turning to it often begin with patients recognizing that curing their cancer is impossible.
  1. A new generation of cancer treatments that have become available in the last few years. Some, called immunotherapy, harness the patient’s own immune system to battle the tumor. Others, known as targeted therapies, block certain molecules that cancers depend on to grow and spread.
  1. Much has been written about the promise of these treatments, as well as their staggering costs — many cost several hundred thousand dollars a year.
  1. A recent analysis estimated that about 15 percent of patients with advanced cancer might benefit from immunotherapy — and it’s all but impossible to determine which patients will be the lucky ones …. researchers noted that most patients will not respond to the new treatments, and it is not yet possible to predict who will benefit.
  1. And in some cases, the side effects are terrible — different from those of chemotherapy but often just as dire.
  2. Sadly, for some patients, a cure will prove elusive. As we continue to chase progress in cancer, let’s be sure that we don’t rob dying patients of a smaller, more subtle miracle: a death with dignity and grace, relatively free from pain and discomfort.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/opinion/sunday/problem-miracle-cancer-cures.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20180420&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=13&nlid=54459356emc%3Dedit_ty_20180420&ref=headline&te=1

My Comments

There are much truths in what the two authors wrote. Let me add my views to some of the points discussed in their articles.

  1. Meaning of cure.

From a patient’s viewpoint, cure means the cancer is totally removed or killed and it would not recur — i.e., the patient never gets cancer again some years down the road. In other words, after the so called “cure-treatment” you are done with cancer. But is the cancer done with you? Unfortunately, not.

Dr. Wachter wrote, a majority have already tried some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Many have landed back in the hospital because the cancer has returned or spread widely.

Yes, that is the reality about cancer treatment. Over the years, hundreds of patients came to us because their cancer recurred. Let me give you a few examples.

My aunty had cervical cancer and she received the standard medical treatment. She was “cured” — i.e., if you define cure as being able to live for 5 years! Twelve years later, the cancer recurred and spread to her lungs. She died.

Nancy (not real name) had breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy, refused chemotherapy and opted for herbs. After 5 years she believed she was already cured (that is what most doctors would tell their patients) and she stopped following our therapy. Fourteen years later, Nancy came at our centre again and this time in severe pain. The cancer had spread extensively to her bones. She died soon after that.

JS had kidney cancer. After his surgery, he opted for our herbal therapy. He was well for almost 22 years. Then through a “misstep” the cancer recurred and attacked his lung. He died.

MT was an Indonesian lady. She found a thumb-sized lump in her breast. It was cancerous. She underwent a mastectomy. Her doctor said it was an early stage cancer. MT had a 90 percent chance of complete cure with follow up medical treatments. MT totally believed her doctor and did exactly as what was told. She received 6 cycles of chemo and 30 radiation treatments. Then she was prescribed Tamoxifen, which she took for 5 years.

Each year she went back to her doctor in Melaka for routine checkup. At every visit she was told that she was fine. After 5 years, MT was told to stop Tamoxifen because she was already cured.

But barely a year later (i.e., in the 6th year), MT started to have pains in her tail bone and shoulder blade. Then her legs started to hurt. She became breathless. MT returned to her doctor and was told the cancer had recurred extensively to her bones and lungs. How could that be?

MT asked her doctor why the recurrence when she was told just a year ago that she had been cured. The doctor replied,  I do not know why. But don’t blame yourself. It is your fate.  Also the recurrence has nothing to do with what you eat. It is just your fate.

 So, take a deep breath and ask, Is modern day cancer treatment any different from going to the casino? Betting on your luck — how scientific is that? That’s right, read this book, The Big Casino: America’s best cancer doctors share their most powerful stories.

  1. Is there a cure for cancer?

If you are in my position, having come across hundreds of cases like above  — do you believe that cancer can be cured? At CA Care I never use the word “cure” because I don’t think there is such thing as a “permanent cure” up to this day, irrespective of what the medical establishment say. I am more comfortable with the term “healing” not cure.

Doctors sell the notion that with present day scientific medical advances, many cancers are highly treatable or potentially curable, especially when detected early. Yes, to treat is always possible, that is if you have the money to pay for the medical bills.

Over the years, I learned that some patients from Indonesia had to sell their house or land to pay for their medical  treatments. In the US many Americans ended up bankrupt after their cancer treatments.

Times Magazine of 20 February 2013, carried a lengthy article by Steven Brill: Bitter Pill – Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us.

Treating cancer is a huge and highly profitable money making industry. Besides the drugs, staying in the hospital is not cheap! So, there is always treatment for your cancer!

To add salt to the wound, what if someone comes out with an idea that finding a cure for cancer is not a good business model. Read this article, Is curing patients a sustainable business model?

  1. Don’t worry we have a lot of expensive “magic” drugs!

Almost all of the patients who came to CA Care for help had underwent medical treatments for their cancers. And these treatments failed to cure them. Let me just give you just one example from the hundreds of emails I received.

Email: 12 March 2018:  Dear Dr Chris Teo,

My name is Alice (not real name) from Singapore. I’m recommended by V, who used to have tongue cancer. 

My mum was diagnosed with advanced stage rectum cancer spread to the liver in May 2017. After going through chemo for 9 months, recently her oncologist has told us that her liver has worsen and even chemo won’t help. 

Alice said on diagnosis the family was told that her mother needed chemo immediately otherwise she would die within a few weeks. With no way else to turn to, she had chemo. After 9 months of failed attempt, the oncologist offered more treatment, now using a “wonder drug” that cost SGD 9,000 per month! Good for the family, but the honest oncologist said, But I would not recommend it because of the severe side effects!

As I was writing this article, a 68-year-old man walked into our centre. He had prostate cancer and had been on hormonal therapy. His PSA was initially at 254. With Lucrin injection the PSA dropped to about 20. Great, wonder drug, right?

Hang on, it is not time to celebrate yet. Soon afterwards the PSA started to increase to 80. Well, this is to be expected and nothing unusual. The doctor changed drug. The patient was put on a “magic” drug called abitraterone or Zytiga. This cost RM 12,000 per month. Can Zytiga cure him? After 6 months on Zytiga, his PSA dropped from 80 to 13. Time to celebrate? Not yet! The PSA level of 13 lasted for only 2 months, then it started to increase to 32 within three months. The doctor suggested intravenous chemotherapy!

All in all, this patient spent a total of about RM132,000 for 11 months of Zytiga. What did he get in return for this expensive adventure?

One oncologist told her patient, Don’t worry, in Singapore we have a lot of drugs for your cancer! Well, if you are willing to fork out something like  RM 5,000 to RM 20,000 per month surely there are many drugs to try out. But can these drugs cure you? Not likely but they may probably make you live longer by a few more weeks. Do you want that?

Michael Gearin-Tosh (in Living Proof – a medical mutiny) asked, why treat when you cannot cure? This professor from Oxford was diagnosed with myeloma and was asked to undergo chemotherapy. The doctors gave him less than a year to live. He rejected chemotherapy and opted for the unconventional self-treatment. He went on to live for another 10 years and died at the age of 65.

  1. Early detection can potentially cure your cancer?

This is the mantra of today’s modern medicine — cancer is potentially curable if detected early! Yes, I tend to agree with this but for most patients their cancers were often discovered too late — the cancer had already spread, at Stage 3 or 4. In such case, potential cure is questionable.

In fact, early detection is a two-edge sword. It may help or it may make things worse. This is a big subject to discuss. If you wish to know more, read this article, Overdiagnosis and Pseudodisease as a starter. Or try this, Is early detection of disease always an advantage?

  1. One of five patients declined standard medical treatment – why?

In Eveline Gan’s article, we learned that one in five patients might decline the standard medical treatment for their cancer. It’s rather surprising for this to happen in Singapore!

So why don’t patients want to go for medical treatments? I am sorry I cannot answer this question. It must be the patient himself/herself who should answer this question.

Some of the reasons laid out in Eveline’s article are:

  1. Some patients opt to rely on the power of their religious belief.
  1. Some others hold negative views of standard treatments and think they will end up worse off as a result — the treatment causes more harm than good. These patients “may have heard about the harmful side effects of treatment from friends and loved ones who have suffered after undergoing treatment or might have passed away sooner than expected.”
  1. Most people know that cancer treatments are toxic! Because of that some patients prefer the non-toxic or non-invasive alternative therapies.

This is where CA Care role fits in here — to provide you  with an alternative, if you so decide not to follow the medical path. My advice to all patients: Learn all you can from the mistakes of others. You don’t have time to make them all yourself.

After coming to us — i.e., taking the unconventional path to your healing — most patients want to know if our therapy can cure their cancers. We tell you clearly, honestly and sincerely — No, we cannot cure you. Because we believe no one on earth can cure any cancer!

  1. Truthful or biased and skewed opinion?

At CA Care we tell patients to be wise and don’t just depend or believe entirely what the “experts” say. Again this is just common sense. We are all humans — we all have our opinions and preferences. We tend to see things only from our own perspectives based of our own experiences and training.

In her article, Eveline wrote, Although doctors strive to provide the right information to those afflicted with cancer, treatment decisions are highly personal and patients’ wishes should be respected. Cheers! This indeed should be a noble principle of all healers.

Unfortunately it is easy said than done! More often than not, patients were “threaten” under the guise of giving truthful professional advice. One surgeon told a lady with breast cancer — if you don’t go for chemo after surgery, I am not going to be responsible for your well being anymore! In the case of Alice above, the doctor warned that her mother needed to do chemo immediately otherwise she would die within a few weeks. May be just advice was given in “good faith” but was it the real truth?

GK had melanoma in 2007. This rare cancer had spread to her lungs — i.e., Stage 4. Without immediate radiation treatment she would die soon. GK refused to follow her doctor’s advice and came to seek our help. It is now 2018, GK is still healthy and very much alive!

In April 2012, Heny coughed out blood. She was later diagnosed with synovial sarcoma. There was a 4.8 x 5.1 cm   cm mass in her right lung, and a 4.2 x 5.6 cm mass in her left lung. She was told to undergo chemotherapy. Without chemo she would die within 6 months. With chemotherapy she would live for another 2 years. Heny refused chemo and came to seek our help. Just two weeks ago, (in April 2018) Heny came to our centre, very much alive!

Elly from Melbourne had endometrial cancer in November 2008. She had an operation and was later told to go for follow up chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The doctor told Ella that without these treatments she would probably die within 3 months, but with chemo and radiation she would probably last another 2 and a half years. Ella told her doctor, I will prove you wrong! It is now 2018 (almost 10 years), Ella is still alive and healthy!

I can go on and on with such stories. But, I think my message is already clear. Patients and those around them need to cast the net wider. There are more to know and learn about cancer treatments way beyond what you find in the hospital.

Is CA Care Therapy scientifically proven? Although I am a scientist, I think the application of simple common sense is far more important than trying to practise science!

In his book, The Laws of Medicine, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee wrote, The laws of medicine are really the laws of uncertainty, imprecision and incompleteness … They are laws of imperfection.

How many patients know this law of uncertainty and imperfection when they go and see their doctors? More often they are told medicine is scientifically proven! It is sad for me to say this — how many people know or realize that most of the findings published in the medical journals are biased and false?

On the other side of the fence are the alternative healers. Many think of them as just quacks — fly by night, snake oil peddlers!

CA Care has been around for more than two decades and we have helped thousands of cancer patients. Go to our website, https://cancercaremalaysia.com/cancer-story/ and read for yourself all those cases we documented. Common sense will tell you that if we are not effective, we would not last that long and we would not be able to write those case studies.

  1. Death with dignity.

Death is a taboo subject for many patients. But in CA Care, I spoke to patients freely about death. All of us have to die one day. Birth ends with death. Accept that death is a certainty which no one can escape

But you don’t have to die yet after being diagnosed with cancer. I have learned this form my patients — sometimes their spouses, who did not have cancer, die before them!

At CA Care we teach patients to live one day at a time, and learn how to accept things with grace. Even if we cannot cure cancer, it is okay. No use fighting it because we cannot win the war!  But remember this, When we are still alive, it is important that we live a happy, pain-free life. If you can eat, can sleep, can move around freely — what else do you want? Learn to appreciate and be grateful for every blessing that come your way! Unfortunately, some cancer patients cannot see that — they just want to be cured and then quickly go back to their old lifestyle again!

Yes, it is “not illogical” for some advanced cancer patients to refuse treatment that may prolong life but will not cure them. I fully agree. This is just good common sense. Dr. Wachter also come to a similar conclusion, sadly, for some patients, a cure will prove elusive. As we continue to chase progress in cancer, let’s be sure that we don’t rob dying patients of a smaller, more subtle miracle: a death with dignity and grace, relatively free from pain and discomfort.

Let me end this discussion by sharing with you an email which I just received a few hours ago. This email was written by a daughter of our patient who had nose cancer (NPC). He refused the standard medical treatments — radiation and chemo. It has been some years since he came to see us and was on our CA Care Therapy.

Hello Doc Chris,

I wish this email makes your day more fulfilled and accomplished.

My father received the herbs a week ago. Prior to that, his swollen neck was really huge. During my holiday there (in the Philippines), we had beach outing and outside activities most of the time. After that, he complained of severe pain at night especially right after when he went swimming at the pool for more than 2 hours. It must be from the chlorine and the hot weather. 

His hearings are getting worse every day that I had to go to the ENT clinic to get hearing aids for him. Unfortunately, they are very expensive … so we had to wait till we can save up some cash. 

Yesterday, my mom sent me a message that after taking the new herb (SAP) for a week now, his hearings started to come back. He said that he could even hear the running water from far as if he was wearing a hearing aid. His swollen neck is getting smaller as well.

Thank you for introducing this medicine. I guess if this continues, we don’t need hearing aids anymore. I’m always grateful to you and your wife’s hard work and genuine care for all your patients.

Sincerely,  Jazz 

I wish those involved with cancer patients can learn something from this discussion!

 

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Part 3: You should not continue with your medical treatments if you have run out of funds.

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SF had already spent around RM 150,000 for her treatment. She said her financial reserve was running low. My advice: You should not continue with your medical treatments if you have run out of funds. It does not make sense to give up half way through the treatment due to lack of funds. Think carefully.

 

 

C: We are here not just to sell our herbs. We want to help people. We want to open their minds to new possibilities. We want them to think for themselves and not led by the nose — jumping into a bottomless pit and at the same time leaving a big hole in your bank account.

So let me ask you this — what do you hope to get from rounds and rounds of treatment. I guess you want a cure, right? Unfortunately, from what I read and know, there is no cure for cancer. So first, understand that there is no cure for your cancer. Second, these treatments are going to bring you more sufferings. Third, you will have to spend a lot more money.

So Ibu (mama) even if you undergo another round of treatments, I don’t see how you are going to be able to solve your problem. After the radiation and chemo, you needed an operation if the tumour shrinks. If the tumour does not shrink, you will go for more and more chemo. So your journey does not end yet. It may just be the beginning of another long journey. Please think carefully.

Many Indonesians who came to see me underwent medical treatments without asking any question or much thinking. After undergoing the treatment half-way, they said: I have no more money. So I don’t want to continue with the treatment.  My response was: Why are you so dumb. If you don’t have enough money to go through the entire course of treatment, why did you ever start with the treatment in the first place?

There was this 35-year-old lady from Palembang. She had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. After the operation, she was asked to undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and be on oral medication. The total cost of these treatments came to about RM200,000. I asked her: Do you have money to pay for this treatment? Her reply, No.

Yes, I understand a 35-year-old cannot be expected to have RM200,000 in her bank account. So even if she wanted to undergo the recommended treatment, she could not. So, I said to her, It’s okay. No need to do the treatments. There is no point undergoing the treatment half-way and then stop!

Did you understand what I am trying to tell you?

P: I understand.

C:. This is one important point I want you to consider now. In the next 2 days you need to go for chemo. You were told you needed 3 cycles initially. Okay, how much will that cost? Then calculate the cost of your stay in Malaysia. After that you need to go for an operation. What is the cost of that surgery?

Husband: RM 25,000 for the surgery alone.

C: Okay, RM 25,000 plus 3 x RM4,000 for the chemo and previously RM6,700 for the radiation. After the surgery you may need more chemo, and more chemo. Consider all these costs. I don’t know about your financial status. So you need to make a decision after careful consideration.

Is the chemo and surgery going to cure you or bring your more sufferings?

P:  I don’t want any more chemo or surgery. I only want you to help me. The doctor said he would remove my right kidney together with the ureter (tube that carries the urine from the kidney to the bladder).

C: What is going to happen to you after that? They will fix a tube. And one kidney gone.  Do you really want to undergo such treatment?

P: At first I didn’t want.

C: What is the purpose of removing these? Think first! One important question to ask. Will the doctor be able to remove all the cancer inside you? And after the operation it is all clean and the cancer would not come back again? Can surgery do that? What happen if after the surgery the cancer becomes more aggressive and spreads more widely.

Learn from nature — for example the ant’s nest. What happen if you take a parang and cut the nest into two? What if you leave the nest undisturbed?

P: All the ants will spread out.

C: I am not an expert in cancer but I use my head to think. And I also want you to think properly. Now, after you have just received 3 sessions of radiation, you had diarrhea. That bothered you a lot. You have not even started with your third rounds of chemo yet. You have already had 12 cycles of chemo and I don’t know what can happen to you if you have more chemo. You may end up dead?  Again, if the tumour does not shrink this time around, you will need more and more chemo. When will that end?

Do you understand what I am trying to tell you?

P: Before this, I don’t understand. I just accept what I was told to do. I don’t know that there is another way out.

C: No, there is NO way out of this.

P: I know. Everything is in God’s hand.

By all means, sell your house or land to pay for the medical bills if the treatment is going to cure you!

C: There is this young man who came to see me. His mother had lung cancer and had gone to China with a few of her friends for treatment. After the first trip to China, the mother ran out of money. She wanted to sell her house in which 5 of her children were living in. The son came to seek my advice. My answer: If you sell the house and your mother is cured, that’s okay. Worth the gamble. But what happen after all the treatments — money gone, and she is not cured? House gone, mother dead? And the children left out in the street without a home to go to.

My advice was not to go to China for the treatment anymore. She survived 3 years after following our therapy. She had a normal life and was able to help her son in his motor-bike repair shop. Her friends who had money and continued with their treatments in China were ALL dead.

I have no magic potion for your cancer

C: I want you to think carefully. If I just want to sell you my herbs, I would have asked you to buy all that you need and go away. Why talk so much and so long? But the mission of CA Care is to help others. That is why I want you to go home and think carefully first. There is no need to take the herbs now. Why? Because in two days time you want to start with your chemo. Go and do your chemo first.

Our herbs are no magic potion. Healing cancer takes more than just drinking herbs. Cancer is about human being — the need to change your attitude, life style and diet. I am not asking you not to go for chemo. I just want you to give a careful thought to what I have said.

Husband: You have opened our minds. I begin to understand what is happening now.

P: I did not understand all these before.

 

 

Liver Cancer: Cultivate Gratitude Not Greed — Two years on herbs, okay; 6 months on medical treatments, dead

Jab was a long-standing hepatitis B carrier. He was a rather conscientious person and went for regular medical check-up. Everything was okay. Then in May 2013, CT scan showed a 7 x 6 x 6 cm tumour in segment 7 of his liver, suspicious of HCC (primary liver cancer).  His blood test showed low platelet count (124) but his liver function values were normal. His CEA, CA 125, CA19.9 CA 15.3 and PSA were all within normal range.

Not satisfied, Jab went to Singapore and did MRI. The result confirmed a mass lesion in segment 7 and 6 measuring 6.2x 6.2 x 5.3 cm — consistent with the presence of a large hepatoma.

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Jab was still not satisfied and came to consult a doctor in Penang. He was prescribed BARACLUDE (entecavir), a drug commonly given to those with chronic hepatitis B. In addition, Jab was given medication for his heart.

According to the doctors Jab had an option to undergo surgery to remove the tumour. In this procedure 45% of his liver would be cut off. However, Jab was told that the cancer would recur within 2 years after the surgery. The procedure would cost SGD 45, 000 if done in Singapore. If done in Penang, it would cost RM 45,000 (three times cheaper!).

Jab refused surgery and came to seek our help and was started on liver herbs. He was doing fine. He looked fit and healthy. The only complaint he had was not being able to eat anything he liked!

On 18 October 2015  — about two years later, we got an e-mail from Jab’s son.

Dear Dr. Chris,

…. In April 2015, my father had decided to take up treatment in X Hospital in China. Some of the treatment are Interventional Therapy, Cryotherapy … in the last six months. His weight before treatment was 59 Kg, now 51 Kg.

Even though I was against this idea of going to China for treatment, I respected his decision. Currently ascites developed in his body. The doctor … helped to drain the fluid, around 3.5 Litres.

On 23 October 2015, Jab’s son came and told us this sad story.

 

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Feb 23, 2016   Dear Dr. Chris,    

As my father has a very heavy ascites, from October until now already 4 times and the last 3 times are 6.5L, 6.5L and 4.5L (9  days from the third one).

The last 3 times, the liquid has blood color.

At this moment my father cannot walk and very slim, looks like left the skin covering the bones.

His food only in the form of liquid, each time around 100 to 150 ml. Few times a day.

Dr Chris, we truly believe God has plan for all of us but I still believe you can give me advise on what to do. I still can fly to Penang.

My father still can sit with our support and very soft spoken but his brain is still in superb condition and he is a fighter as he keeps trying to live as long as he can.

What can I do Dr. Chris? Any herbs can he take with his conditions?

Thank you.

Reply:  I have given you Ascites and Abdominal Distention teas — these are the only 2 teas I have …but if they are not effective, I really don’t know what else to do.

2  Mar 2016   Dear Dr Chris,

As of today, the doctor installed silicone piping for my father for liquid consumption.
13 March 2016  Dear Dr Chris,

My father has passed on. We want to thank you for your guidance during this time.

Comments 

We often tell patients, To die or to live and get well is your choice. So choose wisely!

This is a sad story. Jab had to spend SGD 60,000 only to suffer and died. He never get what he wanted. But he made that choice himself, even against the advice of his three sons.

Home run strike out Jerome

This is a story with many lessons if we are willing to listen and learn! But,  are patients prepared to learn? We are aware that what we are going to say here is not nice to hear. But for the sake of knowledge and also for the sake of those who want to learn, we are going to say it anyway. And we are going to say it as clearly as we can! No apology.

  1. Jab was with us for about two years and he was well, but this did not mean he was cured of his liver cancer. He led a normal, happy pain-free life. The only thing that he could not do was to eat anything he wanted! He had to abstain from “bad” food. From our experience, we know that when patients are half-dead, they will abide by our advice, but the moment that they become well, more often than not, they will complain about their dietary restriction. They wanted to eat what they like. Jab was no exception. Like most cancer patients, when they became well food became their problem! To make things worse, patients probably are encouraged by relatives, friends and their doctors that they can eat anything they like — after all, they are already well or looked thin, etc. etc.

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  1. With a 7 x 6 cm tumour in his liver, Jab ought to know that no one of earth can cure him. The three doctors that he consulted offered to cut off 45% of his liver. But this procedure was not going to cure him — he was told than the cancer can recur within two years. Two years is already a blessing, if indeed what is said is true! We have seen patients suffered recurrence or even died only months after surgery.

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  1. We understand, Jab was a conscientious person. We wanted the best for himself. He wanted a find cure for his incurable cancer. Unfortunately cancer treatment is more dangerous than going to a casino. In the casino at worse, you lose everything in your pocket. In cancer treatment, you not only lose your entire life’s saving but also your life!

 

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  1. It is indeed hard to convince patients to be contented and be happy with what they have or what they are. They always want more and more. All patients who come to us, expect us to cure them! They ask for the impossible. Listen to the advice of this professor.

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  1. In cancer healing, we have to learn to be grateful for what we are and what we have. This is probably the only way we can stay happy from day to day. Cultivate gratitude, not greed! It is hard to make patients understand this. To most of them, it has to be fight and fight all the way to the grave. No, at CA Care we never tell you to fight — we tell you to learn how to live with your cancer! We ask you to tell you cancer, If I die, you will die too. So let’s have a win-win situation. You live in there but don’t disturb me and we all live together happily. Of course, many people may think we are talking “rubbish”.  May be true, but what other option do you have?

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Medical Treatments Did Not Cure Prostate Cancer. The newly created “drugs” are expensive — extremely expensive, just that!

During the past month, many prostate cancer patients came to CA Care. Let us highlight three cases.

Patient 1

PS is a 73-year-old man from Indonesia. His problem started in 2011 when his urine flow was not good. His urination was also frequent. A check with the doctor in July 2011, indicated prostate cancer — PSA = 41.9 and Gleason’s score 9 (5+4). PS underwent TURPT.  In addition he was started on Tapros injection – once every three months. PS continued to receive this injection, a total of 15 injections, until January 2015.

His PSA initially decreased from 41.9 (June 2011)  to 0.47 (in October 2013). But after that it started to increase again. Within one and half year, January 2014, the PSA started to increase to 4.4 (see Table below).

Note:  1. TURPT or Transurethral Resection of Prostate Tumor is a surgical procedure used to remove part of an enlarged prostate. This procedure is a less invasive option to an open prostatectomy and is used in cases where the prostate is not large enough to necessitate complete removal. During TURPT, an instrument is inserted up the urethra to remove a section of the prostate.

  1. Tapros (leuprolide acetate) injection is used to treat advanced prostate cancer. It is not a cure but to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells and helps relieve symptoms such as painful/difficult urination. Most types of prostate cancer need the male hormone testosterone to grow and spread. Tapros works by reducing the amount of testosterone that the body makes.

In February 2014, a bone scan showed the cancer had spread to his bone. PS was given Zometa injection. The doctor stopped Tapros injection for a while, and replaced it with Casodex 50 — an oral drug.

PS continue to received Zometa injection (total of 12 injections) and Casodex until September 2015.

Even with these treatments the PSA from 4.4 (January 2014) started to increase to 32.3 in February 2015.

Since the drugs were not effective, PS underwent an orchidectomy (surgery to remove the testes). After the surgery, his PSA dropped from 32.3 to 11.3 (June 2015). But again, the PSA started to increase. By September 2015, his PSA was 28.7

The doctor recognised that the treatments were not effective. PS was asked to undergo chemotherapy — 6 cycles. The family declined chemo and PS’s son came to Penang to seek our help. About a month on the herbs, his PSA continued to increase to 39.7 in October 2015.

Table 1

Patient 2

PL is a 62-year-old Malaysian. His problem started in May 2012 when a routine health check showed an elevated PSA of 33 plus.

In June 2012, PL was started on a three monthly Zoladex injection (received a total of 10 injections). Initially the PSA started to decrease from 33 to 3.9 (on 14 January 2013). After that it started to increase to 10.9 (3 September 2013).

Casodex caused a temporary drop of PSA from 10.9 to 1.5 within a month. But after that the PSA started to rise again. In April 2014, the PSA was 15 plus. The doctor stopped Casodex and replaced it with Diethylistilberstrol 1 mg.  This replacement drug was not effective. The PSA rose to 22 plus.

The doctor again changed to another drug, Ketoconazole 200 mg. It was also not effective. The PSA shot up to 41 plus (14 August 2014).

A bone scan on 4 September 2015, confirmed bone metastases involving both iliac crests and left sacro-iliac joint.

From 24 September 2014 to 5 March 2015, PL underwent 8 cycles of chemotherapy using Docetaxel.  After 3 cycles of chemotherapy, the PSA decreased from 41 plus to 20 plus (3 December 2014). After the completion of the 8th chemo, the PSA decreased to 6 plus (31 March 2015).

PL was again started on Casodex and Lupron injection. But it was not to be. From 14 April 2015 to 25 August 2015, PL received a total of  five  Lupron injections while still taking Casodex. His PSA shot up from 6 plus to 400 plus.

The doctor suggested that PL undergo chemotherapy again. He declined and started to find alternative therapy.

PL went for ozone therapy. Before the treatment his PSA was 499.8. After 6 ozone treatments his PSA went up to 617. The treatment costs RM3,800.

It was at this stage that PL and his family came to seek our help and PL was started on herbs.

Note: 1. Zoladex or Goserelin acetate is a man-made hormone used to suppress production of the sex hormones (testo sterone and estrogen), particularly in the treatment of breast and prostate cancer.

  1. Diethylstilbestrol(DES) is a syntheticestrogen, first synthesized in 1938. DES was given to pregnant women in the mistaken belief it would reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and losses. In 1971, DES was shown to cause clear cell carcinoma, a rare vaginal tumor in girls and women.
  2. Ketoconazole. This is a broad spectrum antifungal agent but is used for patients with advanced prostate cancer.
  3. Lucrin or Lupron (leuprorelin acetate) reduces the amount of testosterone in men or estrogen in women. It treats only the symptoms of prostate cancer and does not treat the cancer itself.

Table 2

Patient 3

RS is a 67-year-old Malaysian.  A routine screening procedure in September 2012 detected his PSA was elevated at 14.7. A biopsy done confirmed cancer of the prostate, Gleason’s score 3+4. Bone scan did not show any bony metastasis.

RS went to Singapore and underwent a robot assisted radical prostatectomy in January 2013. After this surgery, RS did not receive any further treatment or medication. He only monitored this PSA over the years.

After the prostate surgery, his PSA dropped from 14.7 to less than 0.03 and remained around that level for about a year. In February 2014, his PSA started to increase to 0.07. Later that year in June / September the PSA increased further to 0.18 / 0.23. This results showed that the cancer is coming back and RS felt that he should do something about this.

Table 3

Comments

What can we learn from the above cases?

  1. It is obvious that chemotherapy or surgery did not cure them. The cancer comes back sooner or later.
  2. For Patient 1 — the hormonal injection kept the PSA down for about two years. Removal of testes caused a drop of PSA for about 4 months. After four years of hormonal injection and oral drug, Patient 1 decided to find an alternative path, turning down chemotherapy.
  3. For Patient 2 — hormonal injection and various oral drugs kept him happy for about two years. Then bone scan showed the cancer spread to his bone. Eight cycles of chemotherapy with Docetaxel kept his PSA down for a few months, then the PSA started to increase aggressively. From September 2012 to September 2015 — within three years, his PSA at 33 plus shot up to 617, in spite of 15 hormonal injections, 8 cycles of chemo and taking of oral drugs — Casodex, etc.

It appears that for Patient 2, the more aggressive the treatment, the more aggressive the cancer become!

  1. Patient 3 — opted for surgery instead of Watchful Waiting (i.e. wait and see and do nothing) or Hormonal therapy. From September 2012 to September 2015 — three years, his PSA was kept down from 14.7 to 0.23. There is no immediate danger yet, so there is no reason to panic. Nevertheless, the sign is not good. Surgery did not remove his cancer totally. The gradual rise of PSA is telling us that the cancer is coming back slowly NOT as aggressive as the two other cases above.

Surgery or removal of the prostate is only indicated when the cancer is still confined and not spread anywhere else. However, the long term side effects of surgery are: 1 — Erection problems. Seven out of 10 men become impotent. 2 — Urine leakage or problem controlling the flow of urine (incontinence) because of swelling or damage to the muscle that holds urine in your bladder.

The question in this case is, What if you do nothing — wait and see? Or find an alternative healing path instead of surgery? Patients have a choice!

Prostate Cancer Statistics

  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
  • It is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, just behind lung cancer.
  • About 1 man in 38 will die of prostate cancer.
  • About 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
  • Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.

Source: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-key-statistics

Do you have money to buy time?

Lately, many new drugs are being released to treat advanced prostate cancer.  The rich may want to try! But make no mistake, like the chemos and drugs used by the two patients above, these new, expensive drugs don’t cure you either! They are said to prolong your life for a few weeks or months.

  1. Provenge — approved by the FDA in April 2010 costs US $93,000 or RM 406,251 for a standard course of three treatments. In a study involving 512 patients with advanced prostate cancer, Provenge increased median survival from 21.7 months to 25.8 months.

“To charge $90,000 for four months, which comes out to $270,00 for a year of life, I think that’s too expensive,” said Tito Fojo of the National Cancer Institute. “A lot of people will say, ‘It’s my $100,000, and it’s my four months.’ Absolutely: A day is worth $1 million to some people. Unfortunately, we can’t afford it as a society.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/07/AR2010110705205.html

  1. Enzalutamideapproved in August 2012, sold under the name Xtandi. A typical eight-month treatment costs nearly US$60,000 or RM 262,098. Enzalutamide was assessed in 1,199 patients with advanced prostate cancer who had previously received chemotherapy. Survival with enzalutamide was 18.4 months on average, compared with 13.6 months for men receiving a placebo. This means Enzalutamide extends life by just five months. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2465570/New-prostate-cancer-drug-approved-use-NHS-offers-month-lifeline.html#ixzz3nlnYiWGw
  2. Cabazitaxel — a new form of chemotherapy, approved in June 2010, and sold under the name Jevtana. The typical six cycles cost about US$50,000 or RM 218,415.

5. Abiraterone — approved in April 2011, and sold under the brand name Zytiga. An    eight-month course of treatments costs about US$47,000 or RM 205,310.

3 Cancer Drugs Expensive

Ten ways how doctors in India cheat patients

Someone in India sent us the link to this article. Thanks for sharing!

A renowned physician Dr B M Hegde has shown how a large number of doctors working in five-star hospitals shortchange  patients in order to keep their management happy and enrich their own pockets.

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Prof. B. M. Hegde, MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FRCPG, FRCPI, FACC, FAMS. Padma Bhushan Awardee 2010.Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman, State Health Society’s Expert Committee, Govt. of Bihar, Patna.Former Prof. Cardiology, The Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London, Affiliate Prof. of Human Health, Northern Colorado University, Retd. Vice Chancellor, Manipal University, “Manjunath”Pais Hills, Bejai. MANGALORE-575004. India.

He said:

  • To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Surgeons like to solve medical problems by cutting, just as physicians first seek solutions with drugs. So, if you take your medical problem to a surgeon first, the chances are that you will unnecessarily end up on the operation table. Instead, please go to an ordinary GP first.

Read more …  http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/-ways-how-doctors-in-india-loot-patients-17628.html

1)      40-60% kickbacks for lab tests.
When a doctor (whether family doctor / general physician, consultant or surgeon) prescribes tests – pathology, radiology, X-rays, MRIs etc. – the laboratory conducting those tests gives commissions. In South and Central Mumbai — 40%. In the suburbs north of Bandra — a whopping 60 per cent! He probably earns a lot more in this way than the consulting fees that you pay.

2)      30-40% for referring to consultants, specialists & surgeons.
When your friendly GP refers you to a specialist or surgeon, he gets 30-40%.

3)      30-40% of total hospital charges.
If the GP or consultant recommends hospitalization, he will receive kickback from the private nursing home as a percentage of all charges including ICU, bed, nursing care, surgery.

4)      Sink tests.
Some tests prescribed by doctors are not needed. They are there to inflate bills and commissions. The pathology lab understands what is unnecessary. These are called “sink tests”; blood, urine, stool samples collected will be thrown.

5)      Admitting the patient to “keep him under observation”.
People go to cardiologists feeling unwell and anxious. Most of them aren’t really having a heart attack, and cardiologists and family doctors are well aware of this. They admit such safe patients, put them on a saline drip with mild sedation, and send them home after 3-4 days after charging them a fat amount for ICU, bed charges, visiting doctors fees.

6)      ICU minus intensive care.
Nursing homes all over the suburbs are run by doctor couples or as one-man-shows. In such places, nurses and ward boys are 10th class drop-outs in ill-fitting uniforms and bare feet. These “nurses” sit at the reception counter, give injections and saline drips, perform ECGs, apply dressings and change bandages, and assist in the operation theatre. At night, they even sit outside the Intensive Care Units; there is no resident doctor. In case of a crisis, the doctor — who usually lives in the same building — will turn up after 20 minutes, after this nurse calls him. Such ICUs admit safe patients to fill up beds. Genuine patients who require emergency care are sent elsewhere to hospitals having a Resident Medical Officer (RMO) round-the-clock.

7)      Unnecessary caesarean surgeries and hysterectomies.

Many surgical procedures are done to keep the cash register ringing. Caesarean deliveries and hysterectomy (removal of uterus) are high on the list. While the woman with labour -pains is screaming and panicking, the obstetrician who gently suggests that caesarean is best seems like an angel sent by God! Menopausal women experience bodily changes that make them nervous and gullible. They can be frightened by words like ” cysts” and “fibroids” that are in almost every normal woman’s radiology reports. When a gynaecologist gently suggests womb removal “as a precaution”, most women and their husbands agree without a second’s thought.

8)      Cosmetic surgery advertized through newspapers.

Liposuction and plastic surgery are not minor procedures. Some are life-threateningly major. But advertisements make them appear as easy as facials and waxing. The Indian medical council has strict rules against such  misrepresentation. But nobody is interested in taking action.

9)       Indirect kickbacks from doctors to prestigious hospitals.

To be on the panel of a prestigious hospital, there is give-and-take involved. The hospital expects the doctor to refer many patients for hospital admission. If he fails to send a certain number of patients, he is quietly dumped. And so he likes to admit patients even when there is no need.

10)  “Emergency surgery” on dead body.
If a surgeon hurriedly wheels your patient from the Intensive Care Unit to the operation theatre, refuses to let you go inside and see him, and wants your signature on the consent form for “an emergency operation to save his life”, it is likely that your patient is already dead. The “emergency operation” is for inflating the bill; if you agree to it, the surgeon will come out 15 minutes later and report that your patient died on the operation table. And then, when you take  delivery of the dead body, you will pay OT charges, anaesthesiologist’s charges, blah-blah-Doctors are humans too. You can’t trust them blindly.

Related articles:

On top of consultation fee, she had to pay RM1,700 to the oncologist —  referral fee for radiation! https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2015/07/19/rm-2830-lost-for-not-wanting-to-proceed-with-radiotherapy/

What Doctors Don’t Get to Study in Medical School by Professor B.M. Hegde

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/05/08/what-doctors-dont-get-to-study-in-medical-school/

 

 

 

CANCER’S COLLATERAL DAMAGE: PART 4–WHY THE RICH AND FAMOUS DIE FASTER WHEN THEY HAVE CANCER

by Yeong Sek Yee & Khadijah Shaari

Yes, the rich and famous (and insured) do die faster when they have cancer…more from the collateral damage due to the conventional (and scientifically proven?) cancer treatments than from the original cancer itself. A classic example is the sad story of Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January 1994 and died in May 1994, just barely 5 months after diagnosis.

In the best-seller, HOW WE DO HARM, Dr Otis Brawley, an oncologist and Vice-President of the American Cancer Society, bluntly stated that….”If you are rich and insured, you face another menace. Ironically wealth can increase your risk of getting lousy care. When wealthy patients demand irrational care, it’s not hard to find a doctor willing to provide it. If you have more money, doctors tell you more of what they sell, and they just might kill you. “

Below is a list of 15 (there are many, many more) rich and famous personalities who have succumbed to cancer and the average period from the date of diagnosis to death is less than 2 years. How is it that the scientifically proven/tested conventional cancer treatments did not help them? Did their cancer treatments come along with excessive collateral damage to their body system or were their cancers just too aggressive?

Likewise, you may remember that Malaysia’s most famous and leading oncologist, the late Dr Albert Lim, succumbed to prostate cancer on March 8th 2013 after less than a year of scientifically tested cancer treatments. He had metastasis to his pelvic area, liver and lungs as well. Was there excessive collateral damage or was the prostate cancer too aggressive??

HERE ARE THE 15 RICH AND FAMOUS WHO TRIED BUT DID NOT SURVIVE:

1) JO ANN DAVIS, 57

Jo Ann was a US Republican Congresswoman for Virginia and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. She underwent chemotherapy treatments and a mastectomy. In early 2007, she suffered a recurrence. When the cancer returned, she underwent chemotherapy again. Jo Ann died on Oct 6, 2007.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 2 years

2) LINDA McCARTNEY, 56

Linda McCartney, wife of Paul McCartney died in April 1998, less than three years after it was announced that she was treated for breast cancer. Although her chemotherapy treatments had seemed to have her cancer in check, she took a turn for the worse in March 1998 when the disease spread to her liver.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: Less than 3 years

3) HEATHER CLARKE, 39

Heather was the wife of Darren Clarke, a PGA Golfer. She died in August 2006 after a two year battle with breast cancer that had spread to her bones and liver. She was treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 2 years

4) MIRIAM ENGELBERG, 48

Miriam, a well-known US cartoonist was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 at the age of 43. Three years later, the cancer had spread to her brain and she died at age 48.

Summary Points—a) From diagnosis to recurrence: 3 years  b) From diagnosis to death: 5 years 

5) ELIZABETH EDWARDS, 57

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of John Edwards (a US presidential candidate) was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and was treated with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. In March 2007, a recurrence was discovered after she cracked a rib and a subsequent X-ray showed spots on another rib, on the other side of the chest.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to bone metastasis: Less than 3 years.                            

6) KING HUSSEIN OF JORDAN, 63

In July 1998, King Hussein was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) and immediately underwent chemotherapy at MAYO Clinic in US. He was treated there for six months and returned to Jordan in January 1999.

In late January 1999, King Hussein returned to MAYO after his doctors found evidence that the lymphatic cancer had recurred. King Hussein underwent two bone marrow transplants with cells from his younger brother and sister (in December 1998 and January 1999).

In February 1999, King Hussein returned to Jordan for palliative care and subsequently passed away on February 7, 1999.

Summary Points—a) From diagnosis to recurrence: 6 months  b) From diagnosis to death: 7 months. 

7) FREDDY FENDER, 69

Freddy Fender, singer of hits like “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” was diagnosed with lung cancer (two lemon-sized tumors) in January 2006. He underwent chemotherapy but later decided to stop treatment because of severe effects on his body. Following Fender’s initial round of chemo, he had a PET scan which showed that the tumors had shrunk, but also revealed that he had nine other tumors. Freddy Fender died on October 14 2006.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 9 months. 

8) SUZANNE PLESHETTE

On August 11, 2006, Suzanne Pleshette was treated for lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre and the hospital claimed that the cancer was the size of “a grain of sand” when it was found during a routine x-ray, that the cancer was “caught very much in time,” that she was receiving chemotherapy as an outpatient. She was later hospitalized for a pulmonary infection and developed pneumonia, causing her to be hospitalized for an extended period ……as part of her treatment, a part of her lungs was removed… Pleshette died in January 19, 2009of respiratory failure.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 1 year 5 months

9) DAN FOGELBERG, 56

Dan Fogelberg, a singer and songwriter, discovered he had advanced prostate cancer in 2004. He underwent hormonal therapy and achieved a partial remission but failed to completely eliminate the disease. Dan subsequently died on December 15, 2007.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 3 years

10) LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, 71

Pavarotti, opera singer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006 and required emergency surgery to remove the tumor. On September 5, 2007, Italy’s AGI news agency reported that Luciano Pavarotti’s health had deteriorated and the singer was in a “very serious condition”. He was reported to be in and out of consciousness multiple times, suffering kidney failure. He finally passed away on September 6, 2007.

Summary Points—From diagnosis to death: 11 months 

11) DANA REEVE, 44

Dana Reeve, wife of Christopher Reeve (Superman), was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2005 and passed away on March 6, 2006.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 7 months only 

12) TONY SNOW, 51

Tony Snow, a White House spokesman, was treated for colon cancer in 2005 at which time his colon was removed and subsequently underwent six months of chemotherapy. In March 2007, doctors determined that the cancer had spread to his liver. He died in July 2008.

Summary Points: a)   From surgery/chemotherapy to liver metastasis: 1 ½ years  b)   From surgery /chemotherapy to death: 2 ½ years

13) MICHAEL LANDON, 54

Michael Landon was the star in the hit series “Little House on the Prairie” and “Bonanza”. On April 5, 1991 he was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes. He underwent three sessions of chemotherapy but subsequently died on July 1, 1991.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 2 months 

14) ARCHBISHOP CHRISTO DOULOS, 69

The Archbishop fell ill in June 9, 2006 and medical tests showed that he suffered from advanced cancer in the LARGE INTESTINE (COLON) and an unrelated malignant growth in the liver. A first operation to remove the intestinal cancer was deemed successful but later a liver transplant in the US was abandoned after discovery that the liver cancer has spread. The Archbishop passed away in January 2008.

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 1 ½ years 

15) MARTIN D. ABELOFF, 65

Dr Martin Abeloff, an international authority on the treatment of breast cancer and chief oncologist and director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre at John Hopkins University for the past 15 years, died of leukemia on September 14 2007. His leukemia, a form that is sometimes slow to grow, was diagnosed a year before that (i.e. approx September 2006).

Summary Point—From diagnosis to death: 1 year 

In his book, Dr Otis Brawley revealed a secret: Wealth in America (and elsewhere as well) is no protection from getting lousy care…in fact, wealth can increase your risk of getting lousy care.

Do you fancy getting some collateral damage?

 

The World’s Most Well Fought Battle Against Colon Cancer

I give this article the title – the World’s most well fought battle… Why? This is because the man involved in this battle against colon cancer, Tony Snow, used to walk along the corridor of power in the most powerful political office on earth. For many of us in Malaysia, what happened in the United States of America is always the greatest and the best. What America says we agree or have to agree and what America does we follow or eventually have to follow. I would imagine that the most powerful man on earth would be able to do something great to help his beloved staff and fellowman who was in great distress. I believe that Snow would have gotten the best – the best advice, the best doctor, the best drugs and the best hospital – for him to fight his war against cancer. So, to me, this battle against cancer would probably be the most well fought battle ever waged in America– the world’s most powerful nation.

Also in almost all countries in the world and most of the time, those with wealth and/or political power are All-Powerful – they can get anything they want or they can get away with anything they do. Oop – except of course, as this story will show; they cannot (always) win the war against cancer.  The lesson we can learn from this story is: No one on earth should take cancer for granted.

The facts:

  1. Tony Snow was the press secretary of President George Bush – the current (2008) president of the United States of America.
  2. He was married and had three school-going children. His mother also had colon cancer and died when Snow was 17.
  3. Snow was first diagnosed with stage three colon cancer in 2005.
  4. After surgery he underwent six months of chemotherapy.
  5. He was said to be cancer-free after the medical treatments. He was appointed President Bush’s press secretary in May 2006.
  6. In late March 2007, Snow’s cancer reappeared in his abdomen and also his liver.
  7. He underwent a surgery in April 2007 followed by more chemotherapy.
  8. Slightly more than a year later, Snow died at the Georgetown University Hospital – on a Saturday morning in July 2008. He was 53 years old.

The following are quotations from the press about his battle against metastatic colon cancer:

The Associated Press. 27 March 2007.

He had recently reached the two-year mark of being free of cancer. The White House deputy press secretary said: He told me that he beat this thing before and he intends to beat it again.

Dr. Allyson Ocean, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Weill Cornell Medical College said: This is a very treatable condition. Anyone who looks at this as a death sentence is wrong.

USA Today 27 March 2007: Robert Mayer, former president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology… suggests surgeons won’t be able to cure it with surgery but may be able to control it with chemotherapy. When cancer returns in multiple organs, the goal is not cure, but maybe control for a good long time, which can be measured now in years as opposed to months.

Daniel Laheru, a colorectal cancer specialist and assistant professor at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said patients a decade ago with widely spread tumors survived an average of 12 months. Now, new chemotherapies have doubled that to about 24 months.

The Cheerful Oncologist. 28 March 2007 wrote:  Chemotherapy plus targeted therapy, however, does have a chance to prolong the lives of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The average survival of patients who receive no anti-cancer therapy … 4 to 6 months, while those with treatment 20 to 21 months and hopefully more. This is an example of why medical oncologists give treatments designed to kill, disable and humiliate cancer cells.

The Washington Post – 28 March 2007. reported:  Snow, who beat cancer two years ago, suffered from colitis for 28 years and in February 2005 he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Snow said: seventeen days after the diagnosis, we go in and take the whole colon out and throw it in a garbage bag. After the treatments, Snow got a clean bill of health from a doctor and he went on to take the job at the White House.

Snow called Bush about 7 a.m. to tell him about the recurrence. Bush later told the press: He is not going to let this whip him and he’s upbeat. The blood test and other scans turned up negative for cancer. Anyway, Snow decided to have the growth removed to be followed by chemotherapy.

People 14 May 2007. In an article: Fight of His Life, Sandra Westfall wrote:

6:30 a.m.: National Security briefing;  10 a.m.;  Press briefing;  Noon: chemotherapy, hospital;  3:30 p.m.: Pick up kids from school

That was the typical every-other-Friday schedule for the President’s press secretary Tony Snow.  The cocktail of drugs he’s taking to keep his cancer in check includes one he took when first treated for stage III colon cancer. Snow said: I’d be exhausted for two or three daysThe pace of innovation is breathtaking.  Anyone who can survive a few years has automatic hope.

The Associated Press. 30 April 2007.  Tony Snow was back on the job Monday, five weeks after doctors discovered a recurrence of his cancer. He said he would soon undergo chemotherapy just to make sure we’ve got the thing knocked out.

Slate 4 September 2007.  Snow said: I finished chemo two weeks ago todayWe did CAT scans and MRIs in the last week and it indicates that the chemo did exactly what we hoped it would do, which is hold serve. The tumors that we’ve been tracking have not grown. … We’ll be doing what’s called a maintenance dose of chemotherapy just to keep whacking this thing. He also noted that he’d be having scans every three months, just to stay on top of everything.

Snow conceded: I’ve been lucky I work at the White House. Snow noted that oncologists and patients have made heroic strides in turning cancer into a chronic disease rather than a fatal disease.

The Washington Post. 12 July 2008. After the relapse, Snow said he would undergo an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy followed by further treatment, and hope to throw it into remission and transform it into a chronic disease. If cancer is merely a nuisance, for a long period of time, that’s fine with me. He had lost considerable weight and his thinning hair had turned white during several months of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

Comments:

I am writing this article with a sense of deep respect for the deceased and also for the living. I do not want to add more grief or hurt to anyone. I respect what the patient and his family had done and would not wish to give my opinion about this case except to say that everyone had tried their best to help Snow but the inevitable had happened – the battle was lost.

Even if the battle was lost, it would be a great tragedy if we in Malaysia or those in the developing countries do not take this opportunity to learn something from this episode.

If you have not read my book: Understanding Cancer War & Cure, you can download it for free by clicking this link. We at CA Care manage cancer in a much different way than what is currently practised in the advanced countries of the Western world.

Allow me to pose some questions regarding the media propaganda and spin with respect to this case. You can use your own commonsense to answer these questions.

1. This is a very treatable condition. Anyone who looks at this as a death sentence is wrong.

What does the reality of this story tell us? Slight more than a year after the second battle, Snow died – dead wrong or dead right?

2. What do you think is the real cause of his death?

3. The recurrent tumour in the abdomen has been taken out. Only some cancer could have been left in his liver. Could this kill Snow? Or was it the treatments used to treat the cancer that killed him?

4. This is a treatable disease. What do you think of such a statement? Surely, any disease is treatable but can it ever be cured? Treatable does not mean curable at all.

5. Cancer patients should take note of this medical claim: Patients a decade ago with widely spread tumors survived an average of 12 months. Now, new chemotherapies have doubled that to about 24 months. Is survival for two years with new chemotherapies is enough or sufficient for cancer patients? Most patients who undergo chemotherapy have the misconception that the treatment is going to cure them.

6. CAT scans and MRIs … indicates that the chemo did exactly what we hoped it would do … The tumors that we’ve been tracking have not grown. If that is the good news and result, why was the battle lost? Is the temporary shrinkage or stoppage of tumour growth just a meaningless, false security?

7.  Oncologists and patients have made heroic strides in turning cancer into a chronic disease rather than a fatal disease. How true is still statement? Death, after a year of chemotherapy is not fatal?

8. Snow got a clean bill of health from a doctor and his first surgery and chemotherapy. What is the worth of such a statement? In one hospital, cancer patients are given a Certificate of Achievement after completion of their six cycles of chemotherapy. Is such certificate worthy of the paper it is printed on?

9. Snow had lost considerable weight and his thinning hair had turned white during several months of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. What is your say about this? Is this not what most cancer patients suffer before they eventually die?

10. Medical oncologists give treatments designed to kill, disable and humiliate cancer cells. Is that so? The reality is: who gets humiliated? The cancer cells got killed or the patient?

Surgery and Chemo But Her Breast Cancer Remains Incurable

This is an e-mail I received in late November 2010.

Dear Dr. Teo,
My mom is 68 years old. She got breast cancer stage 3 B in June 2008, after a checkup done in Bandung, Indonesia and confirmed by the National Cancer Centre, Singapore.Due to my working place in Singapore, she was willing to come here to do the treatment (2 times surgery and 18 times chemotherapy) where I can take care and accompany her through this painful treatment. But after 2 years with 18 times chemotherapy, the cancer was not cured.

Last week the chemo doctor mentioned that there is no need for her to take the chemotherapy again because there is “NO HOPE TO CURE and CAN ONLY PROLONG HER LIFE A BIT.” The cancer now spreads to the skin and made her left arm swollen. She felt very uncomfortable due to hardness, redness, hot and pain at her skin.Last 2 weeks, my Indonesia’s friend introduced me to keladi tikus (founded by you). She felt better and the wet skin was getting dry without bad smell under her left arm.I am very sad and keep praying that she has the strength to go through this. I believe that God will cure my mom if I have faith and trust HIM. I really hope to receive your help and great support for my mom treatment.On 7 November 2010, Intan (not real name) and her daughter came to see us in Penang. It was indeed a sad and depressing night for me to see Intan struggling to walk into our centre. In this age of science and technology, we are made to believe that we have all the answers to our problem. But the case of Intan, that I saw tonight, testified to the reality of the present situation. The words of Amy Cohen Soscia, a breast cancer patient from the US, came to mind: “There is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. It never goes away. You just move from treatment to treatment.”

Medical History: Sometime in 2008, Intan fell and felt pain in her left breast. An USG and mammography in Bandung indicated a lump in her breast. She subsequently went to Singapore and underwent a mastectomy. The histopathology report confirmed the 5.5 cm tumour was an invasive carcinoma, grade 3. Twelve out of the 15 lymph nodes were  infected with cancer.  The doctor told Intan she has only three months to live. Since modern medicine could not offer her much hope, her daughter turned to a Chinese sinseh for help. She was started on herbs. Intan pulled through for nine months after which she became breathless. She was admitted into the Changi General Hospital. The doctors tapped 3.5 litres of fluid from her lungs. She was then sent to the Singapore General Hospital for follow up treatment.
In June 2009, she was started on oral chemotherapy – using Xeloda for 2 months. This treatment was not effective. The doctor switched her to intravenous chemo using Vinorelbine. After 2 cycles, this treatment was deemed not effective. Intan underwent another 4 cycles of chemo with Vinorelbine + Gemcitabine. This combination was also not effective. The doctor switched drug to only Doxorubicin. Intan received 7 cycles of this mono-drug therapy. This too was not effective. The doctor switched to Taxol and Intan received 2 cycles of this treatment. Again the result was not good. Intan was put on Xeloda again for a month and after that she was switched to another hormonal therapy (which the daughter forgot the name). The cancer still spread. Intan was again put on Taxol for another 2 cycles. After Taxol, the doctor suggested Herceptin. Intan declined further medical treatment.

All said, it was a bitter and frustrating experience for Intan.