Lung Cancer: Free “Tarceva-for-life” failed

FY is a 50-year-old Malaysian. His problem started with headache, poor appetite and weight loss. He consulted a doctor in a private Hospital A in his hometown. He was told there could be something in the brain. A CT scan was done and there was a lump in his lung. A biopsy confirmed a moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma.

FY was referred to a private Hospital B in Penang. The biopsy tissue was sent to Kuala Lumpur for further analysis. EGFR mutation was detected. In the meantime, FY underwent five times of radiation to the head (due to the headache). This treatment cost RM11,000. The oncologist suggested taking oral chemo.

FY decided to seek further treatment in another private Hospital C. The oncologist in Hospital C prescribed oral drug, Tarceva. This was the deal. Take Tarceva for ten months, thereafter it will be provided free of charge for life. Each month’s supply cost RM4,500, meaning FY will have to fork out a total of RM45,000 first before he could enjoy the free supply of Tarceva.

In all, FY took Tarceva for 11.5 months. So, he managed to enjoy free Tarceva for 1.5 months.

Medical Reports 

The progress of FY’s treatment was monitored by scanning and blood tests. 

CT scan thorax done in Hospital A, 29 August 2017.

  • a suspicious 3.4 x 2.8 x 3.3 cm lump in the lower lobe of his left lung.

CT scan of brain, neck, thorax, abdomen and pelvis done in Hospital C, 26 September 2017.

  • lesion at apical segment of left lower lobe of lung and small cavities due to primary carcinoma.
  • multiple small metastases in both lungs.
  • enhancing lesions at left parietal lobe, vermis and right cerebellum.
  • patchy sclerosis of body of T1 vertebrae suggestive of metastasis.
  • lymph node at level 4 of neck.

MRI thoraco-lumbar spine done in Hospital C, 3 October 2017.

  • abnormal signal intensity within C7,T1 and T2 vetebral bodies. Features suggestive of metastases.
  • L4/L5 disc bulge.
  • L5/S1 disc bulge. 

Whole body PET Scan done in Hospital C, 18 January 2018.

  • metabolic activity noted in the right (1.8 cm) and left sides of neck (1.9 cm) .
  • metabolic activity noted in the left base of the tongue.
  • metabolic activity left axillary lymph node (2 cm).
  • irregular metabolic active mass (3.2 cm) seen in the apical segment of the lower lobe of left lung.

Whole body PET Scan done in Hospital C, 21 August 2018.

  • metabolic activity node see in the left (1.3 cm) side of the neck.
  • metabolic activity left axillary lymph node (0.6 cm).
  • FGD-avid mass (4 cm) seen in the apical segment of the lower lobe of left lung. This is larger and has more metabolic activity compared to the previous PET CT on 18 Jan. 2018.
  • metabolic active nodule (1.9 cm) seen in the posterior segment of the upper lobe of right lung – not seen in the previous scan.
  • another metabolic active nodule (1.7 cm) seen in the posterior basal segment of the lower lobe of the left lung — not seen in the previous scan.
  • a few 2-5 mm, non metabolic active nodules seen in the right and left lungs. These are not seen in the previous scan.
  • increased metabolic activity seen in the left adrenal gland (1.4 cm).
  • metabolic active lesions seen in the spine of C7 and T1. These re larger and more metabolic active compared to the previous PET CT scan.
  • metabolic active bony lesions seen in the spine T12, left sacrum and medial wall of the left acetabulum. These are not metabolic active in the previous scan.

You don’t need to be a doctor to know that FY is getting worse, not better, after taking Tarceva.

Below is a table with values of CA125, CA15.3 and CA19.9 taken over a period of about a year while FY was taking Tarceva. The most telling results are the values of CA125. In September 2017, the value was 434. After taking Tarceva it gradually decreased to 48 and down to 15 in February. But in March 2018 (barely five months later) the CA125 started to increase and in August 2018 it was at 46.5.

Date CA 125 (0-35) CA 15.3 (0-31.3) C19.9 (0-37)
26 September 17 434 9.8 39.4
24 October 17 48 7.7 16.9
28 November 17 15 n/a n/a
27 December 17 15 n/a n/a
23 February 18 15 4.9 8.2
26 March 18 18 5.8 15.6
23 April 18 19 5.9 11.0
22 May 19 22 5.2 17.0
25 July 18 40.6 5.1 17.2
17 August 18 46.5 n/a n/a

The numbers above clearly showed that Tarceva was gradually losing its effective after five months!

In August 2018, the oncologist told FY that Tarceva was not effective anymore. He has to switch to i/v chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A cycle of chemo would cost RM12,000.

If FY does not want chemo, he can opt for another new, more expensive oral drug (probably Tagrisso which cost RM30,000 per month).

FY and his wife came to seek our help. They decided not to continue with further medical treatment – at least for the moment.

Chris: Can this new drug cure you?

FY: No, only control.

Comments

This my third case in which patients were asked to take Tarceva for ten months with the promise that at the 11th month onwards they get Tarceva without charge for life!

Do you ever wonder why patients are offered Tarceva for free, after being told to buy a ten-month- supply first?  Is it a noble, charitable intention or “smart” business deal?

Read this story: Lung Cancer: Spend RM80,000 and You Get Free Tarceva for Life

Daughter: My father has lung cancer. It is positive for EGFR. The doctor suggested taking the oral targeted therapy, Tarceva. One box, lasting one month, cost about RM8,000. After we take Tarceva for ten months, and if the medicine works, for the rest of his life the medicine will be free. But must complete the ten boxes first. That’s the deal!

Chris: You mean after spending RM80,000 they will give you Tarceva for free for life? But what happen if your father dies before the ten months?

D: I was thinking. May be my father cannot last that long. Maybe before the ten boxes, sure die one.

C: I have one patient who came and see me. She was asked to take Nexavar (for liver cancer). The deal was buy one, free one. But must pay RM20,000 first (for the first month’s supply) and next month she will get one month’s supply of Nexavar for free! But after she took the drug for a week, her health deteriorated, had to be hospitalised and she died. Already paid RM20,000, cannot claim back.

Another question that bugs me is, why free only after TEN months? Why not earlier? Why not buy one, free one like they offered for Nexavar?

Let’s study the blood test numbers critically.  Let’s look at the bigger picture. The CA125 was at 434 in September 2017. After taking Tarceva the value dropped to 15. Bravo! Tarveca seemed to do the magic. But this euphoria did not last long. A month later, in March 2018, the CA125 started to increase. By August 2018, it was at 46.5.

By offering patients free Tarceva after ten months, seems appealing and noble at the first look; but in reality does the drug company or doctor not know that by a few more months, patients don’t need Tarceva anymore because it is not effective?

From a business point of view, it also does not make “sense” why the drug company would give Tarceva for free. Business is to make money. Just imagine what could happen if all patients get free Tarceva for life — will that not make  the drug company go bankrupt?

Let me share with you what my favourite Jewish rabbi, Harold Kushner said:

When I started to ask these questions, I became more curious. To kill the curiosity in me, I googled cost of generic Tarceva in India.

This is what I get.

  • In many countries, the brand-name Tarceva 150 mg drug costs about $18,700to 19,000 (price subject to vary) per 30 tablets. However, the mass production of generic cancer drugs versions are available for less than 15% of the retail price of the brand-name drug. Mar 22, 2018

Click this link and you get prices of generic Taceva available in India

https://dir.indiamart.com/impcat/erlotinib-tablets.html

(Exchange rate: Indian Rupee 10,000 = RM 563)

In India you can buy a month supply of generic Tarceva for less about RM563. Wow, amazing — I learned something new today!  At one time Tarceva was selling for RM 8K per month. Now the price dropped to RM5K — and that is still many times more expensive than the Indian generic.

Erlotinib   Rs 11,900, 150 mg, 30 tablets

Erclocip  Rs 7,230 for 30 tablets

Erlonat  Rs 6,000 for 30 tablets

Erlonat by NATCO,Rs 10,000 for 30 tablets

I have another question. I wonder why the Power-that-Be in developing countries do not look to India for the cheaper, generic drugs? Is that not a good way poor for poor countries to save money?

If you are skeptical about this suggestion, that is okay. Go ahead and spend your money.

But if you are poor and cannot afford to buy these expensive, American drugs, I believe my suggestion makes sense.

Take this case, FY paid for the  “expensive original” Tarceva, right? For less than a year, he already spent RM45,000. Look what happened to him?

Go to these links and read:

Generic cancer drugs that we can trust

Access to cancer medicines in India

India to supply generic cancer drug to US 

India approves generic cancer drug

Dying to Survive: Indian generic medicines have a tale to tell

Terminally ill dad saves more than $200k bringing in cancer drugs from India

 

 

 

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Lung Cancer Part 2: Treatment with Tarceva and Zometa failed — what now?

For 13 months, GG was treated with Tarceva and Zometa for her lung cancer. About seven months on Tarceva and Zometa, GG started to have serious problems: double vision, eyes highly sensitive to bright light, ear ringing, legs with no strength, severe muscle pull at the neck. GG did ask the doctors if the sufferings that she had to endure was due to the side effects of the treatment, i.e. due to the Tarceva and Zometa. The doctors categorically denied that her suffering was NOT due to the treatment!

GG told us that in the next few days, she would have to see her oncologist again. Since Tarceva is not effective anymore, she will be told to take another new drug. Because of the severe headache, she would consult the brain specialist again. All along, MRI showed nothing in the brain.

Sensing that GG is still not done with her doctors yet, I suggested that GG go and see her doctors first. There is no need to panic or rush to do something.

I told GG to find out in more detail what the oncologist has to offer her. The oncologist had indicated earlier that GG might be prescribed a new drug. This is more expensive (about RM10,00 per month). She will have to pay for this — so the deal of free Tarceva for life vanished.

For this new drug, besides the cost, I reminded GG to ask if it can cure her or not. GG quickly responded, “But I cannot afford” to pay for the treatment anymore. After all she had spent more than RM100K thus far. She is running out of funds. Her health insurance would only pay RM50K per year for her medical treatments.

I assured GG and if everything else fail, she can come and see us again. I shall do my best to help her.

I warned GG that our CA Care Therapy is not easy to follow. The herbs has to be boiled. It is smelly and taste awful. Besides she cannot eat anything she likes. No oil, no sugar and don’t eat anything that walks (i.e. with legs).

Then my last shot. I asked GG whom she prays to. GG prays to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. I suggested that GG go home and pray first and ask Kuan Yin for guidance — whether she should continue with the medical treatment or opt out of medical treatment and start following our therapy.

In this way, no one can make us a scapegoat if GG never get well or die.

Two days after sending GG home without any herbs, GG came to see me again.

Chris: Did you talk to Kuan Yin? What did she say?

GG: It is okay to take your herbs.

 

Comments

Decide for yourself how truthful it is the doctors when they told GG about the side effects of the treatment. Is it the whole truth? Read what doctors say about themselves.

So, don’t swallow everything that the doctors say. Google side effects of Zometa / side effects of Tarceva and see what you get!

Let me share with you what I got.

Side effects for Zometa

  1. Bone Pain
  2. Feeling Weak
  3. High Blood Pressure
  4. Low Amount Of Magnesium In The Blood
  5. Low Amount Of Phosphate In The Blood
  6. Low Amount Of Potassium In The Blood
  7. Trouble Breathing
  8. Backache
  9. Chills
  10. Chronic Trouble Sleeping
  11. Constipation
  12. Cough
  13. Diarrhea
  14. Dizzy
  15. Feel Like Throwing Up
  16. Fever
  17. Fluid Retention In The Legs, Feet, Arms Or Hands
  18. Flu-Like Symptoms
  19. Head Pain
  20. Inflammation Of Skin Caused By An Allergy
  21. Inflammation Of The Eye
  22. Intense Abdominal Pain
  23. Joint Pain
  24. Low Energy
  25. Muscle Pain
  26. Pain
  27. Throwing Up
  28. Urinary Tract Infection 

INFREQUENT side effects

  1. Abnormally Low Blood Pressure
  2. Anemia
  3. Atrial Fibrillation
  4. Decreased Blood Platelets
  5. Infection
  6. Low Level Of Granulocytes In The Blood
  7. Confused
  8. Cramps
  9. Difficulty Swallowing
  10. Drowsiness
  11. Excessive Sweating
  12. Feeling Agitated
  13. Indigestion
  14. Loss Of Appetite
  15. Numbness And Tingling
  16. Painful, Red Or Swollen Mouth
  17. Taste Problems
  18. Upper Abdominal Pain 

RARE side effects

  1. Acquired Decrease Of All Cells In The Blood
  2. Acute Kidney Failure
  3. Atypical Femoral Fracture
  4. Blurred Vision
  5. Bone Necrosis Of The Jaw Bone
  6. Bronchospasm
  7. Fanconi’s Syndrome
  8. Giant Hives
  9. High Amount Of Potassium In The Blood
  10. Hives
  11. Hypersensitivity Drug Reaction
  12. Inflammation Of The Iris – The Colored Part Of The Eyeball
  13. Inflammation Of The Uvea Of The Eye
  14. Inflammation Of The White Outer Coat Of The Eye
  15. Kidney Disease With Reduction In Kidney Function
  16. Life Threatening Allergic Reaction
  17. Low Amount Of Calcium In The Blood
  18. Lung Tissue Problems
  19. Seizures
  20. Signs And Symptoms At Injection Site
  21. Slow Heartbeat
  22. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  23. Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis
  24. Worsening Of Asthma
  25. Arthritis
  26. Chest Pain
  27. Dry Mouth
  28. Extreme Loss Of Body Water
  29. Feeling Anxious
  30. Increased Feeling Of The Skin
  31. Involuntary Quivering
  32. Itching
  33. Leg Cramps
  34. Muscle Spasm
  35. Not Feeling Well
  36. Numbness
  37. Pink Eye
  38. Rash

Source: https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-21757/zometa-intravenous/details/list-sideeffects

Side effects for Tarceva

  1. Skin changes
  2. Diarrhoea
  3. Increased risk of getting an infection
  4. Loss of appetite
  5. Sore mouth and ulcers
  6. Cough and shortness of breath
  7. Liver changes
  8. Feeling or being sick
  9. Numbness or tingling in fingers and toes
  10. Headaches
  11. Hair loss
  12. Depression
  13. Tiredness and weakness (fatigue) during and after treatment
  14. Tummy (abdominal) pain, indigestion and wind (flatulence)

Occasional side effects

  1. Nosebleeds
  2. Bleeding from the stomach or bowel
  3. Cracked skin (skin fissures)
  4. Swelling around the fingernails
  5. Eye problems
  6. Rare side effects
  7. Liver damage
  8. A hole in your stomach, food pipe (oesophagus) or bowel
  9. Abnormal hair growth

Source: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/drugs/erlotinib/side-effects

Do you need to pay RM100,00 to collect such possible side effects? Think carefully — why do you think GG is suffering so badly now?

My last word. If I have a choice, I would rather NOT take on this case. I am not sure if GG is here just wanting to hunt for a magic bullet. I cannot cure her. But I have no choice. I have to help GG the best I know how, if she is committed to her healing. Let’s see if she turns up again in the next two to three weeks.

From what I can see, right now she is in severe pain and discomforts. My prayer: Oh God, please give me the wisdom to make her life a bit more comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

Lung Cancer Part 1: Free Tarceva for Life — A Crashed Dream

GG is a 59-year old Malaysian lady. About four years ago (June 2014) she had a bit of cough. She consulted a GP who  said there might me something in her lung. GG was asked to consult a lung specialist in Hospital A in Penang.

A CT scan on 5 June 2014 indicated mild fibrosis in both lungs. There was a 1.6 cm nodule in the right lower lobe, likely benign in nature. Minimal atelectasis (collapse or closure of a lung resulting in reduced or absent gas exchange) in the right lung base. Conclusion: Features are suggestive of infective process, such as tuberculosis.

GG was sent home without any medication.

Unfortunately, GG did not get any better in spite of returning to see her doctor again and again.

Her tongue became crooked. GG went for acupuncture. Great! Her headache went away and her tongue became straight again. The acupuncture treatment was for about two months. She received two treatments per week. Each treatment cost RM 8.00.

Unfortunately again, GG’s problems did not go away. In September 2017, she developed severe headaches and could not stand the pain. She started to cough, especially at night. GG went to consult a neurologist in Hospital B. A scan showed nothing in her brain but there was a 2.6 x 2 x 2.5 cm mass in the left upper lobe of the lung. There was also a 2 x 1.6 x 2 cm mass in the right lower lobe.

There was partial collapse of her T3 vertebra. There were lytic and sclerotic lesion seen in the right 6th rib and the left 10th rib.

A core needle biopsy of the lung mass was done. The result confirmed cancer — an invasive moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma.

GG went for a second opinion in Hospital C. A PET scan was done followed by a biopsy again.

The PET scan results suggested primary lung cancer with metastasis to the perihilar node and multiple bony metastasis involving the spine, pelvic bones, bilateral ribs, right skull base, left scapula and left humerus.

A tissue specimen sent to Kuala Lumpur for further analysis indicated positive for EGFR gene mutation.

GG was started on oral drug Tarceva in October 2017. And she had been taking this drug until now. GG had to pay RM5000 plus per month for this medication. In addition she received monthly Zometa injection for her bone. This cost about RM1500 per month.

Chris: Did you ask the oncologist if these treatment can cure you?

GG: No, cannot cure. Can control only.

C: How long do you need to be on the medication?

GG: Take Tarceva until I die.

When GG came to see us, she was already on Tarceva for 13 months.

The oncologist offered an interesting deal. GG has to buy Tarceva for 10 months. After that she will be given free Tarceva for life. In other words, spend $50 to 60K on Tarceva first and then you get whatever Tarceva you need for life.

For the past three months GG received free Tarceva but had to spend about RM300 per visit on hospital expenses.

Unfortunately, about two weeks before she came to CA Care, GG had to be hospitalised for ten days. This cost her RM21,000.

All in all, up to this point in time, GG said she had already spent RM100,000 for her medical treatments. Never mind, insurance pay!

C: Why do you come and see us. Why don’t you continue taking the Tarceva. After all it is for free now!

GG: The oncologist said Tarceva is not effective anymore! I need to change to another more expensive drug. And this time I need to pay for that drug. It will probably cost RM10,000 per month and I cannot afford that.

C:Did you suffer any side effects while on Tarceva?

GG: Initially there was a bit of hair loss. My skin was dry and there was a bit of itchiness. After about seven months on Tarceva and Zometa, I started to have more serious problems.

  • Double vision. If I close one eye, it is okay. With two eyes opened it is havoc.
  • Cannot stand the bright light with my eyes opened.
  • Both ears with ringing sound.
  • Legs no strength.
  • Severe muscle pull at the neck.

C: Did you have such problems before taking Tarceva?

GG: No such problem.

 

 

Indeed when GG came to see us she was really in a bad shape. She could not sit up for long and needed to lie down. Her son pushed her around in a wheel chair.

I asked GG to leave behind her stack of medical reports and CDs of the scan. I need to do some “homework” to understand what had happened.

One month after commencing Tarceva, GG had a CT scan. Did the tumours in her lung disappear? As shown by the scan below, there was no magic.

One year after consuming Tarceva, CT scan showed GG’s condition did not get any better either. Study the images (above and below) and see for yourself that the tumours in the lungs did not go away.

GG had been a RM1,500-Zometa-injection every month. Her bones did not get any better either. MRI in September 2018 showed severe compression fracture of body of T3 vertebra and sclerotic lesions in bodies of T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7 and T11 vertebrae.

Every month, GG did blood test and her CEA, CA 153 and CA 19.9 were monitored. The results (as in tables below) were disappointing.

In September 2017 when GG started seeing her doctors in Hospital B, her CEA was only 11.7. Then GG started to take Tarceva  prescribed by an oncologist in Hospital C. The CEA increased to 58.6. Over the months, even with Tarceva, the value fluctuated. It August 2018 (after almost a year on Tarceva) it was 42.5. In September 2018, it was 14.8 (Table below).

The rise and fall of CA 15.3 and CA 19.9 showed similar trend. Look at the big picture.

GG started off with CA15.3 = 35.5 and a year later it was 98.

For CA 19.9, it was at 120.4 in September 2017 and it was at 178.9 in September 2018.

You don’t need to be a doctor to know that the treatment did not work. GG needs to try her luck elsewhere. If she continues with the medical treatment, she was told that she needs a new, more expensive drug. This time she has to pay for the drug. Her dream of enjoying free Tarceva for life turns out to be just a “crashed dream” or an illusion.

 

Lung Cancer: Spend RM80,000 and You Get Free Tarceva for Life

Sam (not real name) is 63 years old. Sometime in June 2016, he had pain in his right arm. An X-ray was done and the doctor said it could be due to muscle problem. He was asked to go for physiotherapy. It did not help.

In January 2017, his right arm was swollen and his condition became more serious. He consulted an orthopedic doctor. There was nothing wrong!

Sam was admitted into a private hospital on 11 February 2017 for further examination.

MRI on 12 February 2017 showed a 3.1 x 2.3 cm mass at the distal humerus (bone in the upper arm) involving the triceps muscle. Incidentally, the doctor also found a suspicious 4.4 x 5.2 cm lesion in the lower zone of his right lung.

A CT scan done the next day, 13 February 2017, confirmed the presence of an irregular 4.3 x 4.38 x 3.96 cm mass in his lung. There were also multiple enlarged lymph nodes in the pretracheal and carina. The largest being 2.69 x 1.77 x 1.9 cm and 3.48 x 2.91 x 1.61 cm respectively.

In short, the cancer had spread. But the question is: Spread from the lung to the bone, or from the bone to the lung? A biopsy of the bone showed negative for malignancy. A biopsy of the lung showed positive for cancer.

The total cost of the 4-day-stay in the hospital for the above procedures cost RM 12,595.90.

So what comes next? What to do. The doctor suggested the following options:

  1. Chemotherapy.
  2. Immunotherapy.
  3. Target therapy — taking of oral chemo-drug if it is positive for EGFR.
  4. Bisphosphonate, a drug that slows down or prevent bone damage. Depending on the type of drug given, this is to be taken either once a day, once a week (on the same day of the week), or once a month (on the same day of the month).

Listen to our conversation this morning!

Gist of our conversation.

Daughter: My father has lung cancer. It is positive for EGFR. The doctor suggested taking the oral targeted therapy, Tarceva. One box, lasting one month, cost about RM8,000. After we take Tarceva for 10 months, and if the medicine works, for the rest of his life the medicine will be free. But must complete the ten boxes first. That’s the deal!

Chris: You mean after spending RM80,000 they will give you Tarceva for free for life? But what happen if your father dies before the ten months?

D: I was thinking. May be my father cannot last that long. Maybe before the ten boxes, sure die one.

C: I have one patient who came and see me. She was asked to take Nevaxar (for liver cancer). The deal was buy one, free one. But must pay RM20,000 first (for the first month’s supply) and next month she will get one month’s supply of Nexavar for free! But after she took the drug for a week, her health deteriorated, had to be hopitalised and she died. Already paid RM20,000, cannot claim back.

So back to you, Tarceva is a good deal. Why don’t you want to take the drug? Can take the drug for life and no need to pay.

D: (Shaking her head) No, don’t want.

C: Did you ask if Tarceva can cure or not?

D: It will control the cancer cells, so that they never spread.

C: But cannot cure?

D: That’s what I asked him (doctor). The tumour is going to be there.

C: That means, cannot cure la because the tumour is still there.

D:  In about 5 percent of patients, the tumour shrink.
C: What happen to the 95 percent, tumour never shrink?

D; Under control.

C: I tell you. For some people the tumour was totally gone after taking the drug. But a few months later, the tumour came back again. And this time it was twice the size.

Did the doctor tell you about the side effects of Tarceva?

D: Ya, I asked. Diarrhoea, only that.

C: Only that?

D: Ya, mild one only.

C: You believe him or not?

D: May be not.

C: I tell you. Don’t just listen to me only. I can bluff you. Go back and read more. Read what others say.

D: I prefer natural medicine.

C: I shall do my best to help you. I shall give you herbal teas for his lung, lymph nodes and bone. The herbs are bitter — awful taste. Can or not?

Know that I cannot cure your cancer. But take herbs and see if they can help you or not. If you take the herbs for a month, I am going to ask you if you feel better or not. If you don’t feel better, then no need to come and see me anymore. If you feel better, continue taking the herbs.

When can you stop taking the herbs? I really don’t know. But if you are feeling better, why stop it? Because I know there is no cure for cancer.

In America, most people with stage 4 lung cancer die within a year. But, I am not saying you are going to die soon. Go home and read the stories (in the website).

Of course, all of us have to die. So don’t worry about death. What is important is, don’t die suffering. Want to die also cannot, want to live also cannot. That’s terrible.

So, I shall try to help you. If it’s good, continue. If no good, don’t continue. Go home, take care of yourself and take care of your diet.

Comments

They say knowledge is power. This is true! To me, with cancer, ignorance kills!

I am glad that Sam’s daughter is smart! She asked questions. And she “processed” the answers given!

In this world today, we read about “fake news”, “fake information”, “cybertrooper”, etc.. So please be on guard and beware.

As I was writing this story, one lady came to ask for help. She was also given Tarceva for her lung cancer. For about one month plus, Tarceva seemed good for her. Then she started to suffer side effects. After seven months the side effects were unbearable and she gave up Tarceva totally. No, she did not hit the 10-month-mark! The irony is, this lady is a medical staff of a hospital. She should know better!

Listen to her story.

Google “side effects of Tarceva” and you get this. No, it is more than just mild diarrhoea!

Side effects of Tarceva include:

  • Acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • blemishes on the skin
  • bloated or full feeling
  • bone pain
  • burning, dry, or itching eyes
  • diarrhea (mild)
  • difficulty with moving
  • dizziness
  • dry eyes
  • dry skin
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • excessive tearing
  • fear
  • feeling sad or empty
  • feeling unusually cold
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • irritability
  • itching skin
  • joint pain
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • nervousness
  • passing gas
  • pimples
  • rash, mild
  • redness, pain, or swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid
  • shivering
  • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
  • swelling
  • swelling or inflammation of the mouth
  • swollen joints
  • thinning of the hair
  • tiredness
  • trouble or inability to sleep
  • trouble with concentrating
  • weight loss
  • loosening of the fingernails
  • redness or soreness around the fingernails.

Source: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/tarceva-side-effects.html

More about the side effects of Tarceva:

Meaningless Shrinking of Tumor While on Tarceva https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/04/26/meaningless-shrinking-of-tumor-while-on-tarceva-treatment/ 

Meaningless Decline of CA 15.3 and Tumour Shrinkage Following Treatment With Iressa and Tarceva https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/04/26/meaningless-decline-of-ca-15-3-and-tumour-shrinkage-following-treatment-with-iressa-and-tarceva/ 

 

Update: Daughter wrote to say father died on 7 October 2017

He Died Of Lung Cancer — Treated by the Best Oncologist in One of the Best Hospitals in the World

It was 3 a.m. when I finished reading the last page of this 224-page-New York Time #1 Bestseller.

When breath becomes air

The Author: Dr. Paul Kalanithi was an outstanding neurosurgeon with very impressive academic credentials. He graduated from Stanford University with a BA and MA in English literature and a BA in human biology. He earned an MPhil in history and philosophy of science and medicine from the University of Cambridge. Later, he went to Yale School of Medicine where he graduated with a cum laude. Paul then returned to Stanford to complete his residency training in neurosurgery.

To Paul, being a neurosurgeon is a noble calling. You can’t see it as a job, because if it’s a job, it’s one of the worst jobs there is.

Unfortunately, fate has it that Paul did not end up being a full-fledged neurosurgeon. Well into his six-year-residency  he was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic lung cancer. Less than two years (22 months) after the diagnosis he died — just when he was ready to graduate.

I read this book with a heavy heart — sad that such a brilliant and caring doctor like Paul had to leave so soon.  Lucy — Paul’s wife wrote, When I see the hospital where Paul lived and died as a physician and a patient, I understand that had he lived, he would have made great contributions as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist. He would have helped countless patients and their families.

Such is the sad, cruel reality about life. Lucy wrote, What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy. True indeed. I always believe for anything that happens, there must be a reason if only we look at the bigger picture.

Salute the Neurosurgeon!

Paul did well in life — he studied literature, history and philosophy before doing medicine. With such academic background he was well prepared to become a caring doctor — a cut above others. Here are some quotations of what Paul wrote in his book:

  • As a resident, my highest ideal was not saving lives — everyone dies eventually — but guiding a patient or family to an understanding of death or illness. Where there’s no place for the scalpel, words are the surgeon’s only tool.
  • Our patients’ lives and identities may be in our hands, yet death always wins. Even if you are perfect, the world isn’t. The secret is to know that the deck is stacked, that you will lose, that your hands or judgment will slip, and yet still struggle to win for your patients.
  • Like my own patients, I had to face my mortality and try to understand what made my life worth living. With limited time, Paul wrote this book. He did not get to finish it.

Prognosis and Statistics

As a neurosurgery resident Paul had operated on brain cancer. After surgery it is the standard practice to send patients for follow up chemo and/or radiation. Here doctors often talk about prognosis with their patients and family members.

This is something Paul wanted us to know. He wrote, By this point, I had learned a couple of basic rules. First, detailed statistics are for research halls, not hospital rooms … Second, it is important to be accurate, but you must always leave some room for hope — Median survival is eleven months or You have 95 percent chance of being dead in two years — I come to believe that it is irresponsible to be more precise than you can be accurate. Those apocryphal doctors who gave specific numbers (The doctor told me I had six months to live): Who were they, I wondered, and who taught them statistics?

Limitation of Science

  • Although I had been raised in a devout Christian family …I, like most scientific types, came to believe in the possibility of material conception of reality, an ultimately scientific worldview that would grant a complete metaphysics, minus outmoded concepts like souls, God, and bearded white men in robes.
  • Scientific methodology is the product of human hands and thus cannot reach some permanent truth. We build scientific theories to organize and manipulate the world, to reduce phenomena into manageable units.
  • Science is based on reproducibility and manufactured objectivity.
  • Science … its inablity to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.
  • Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. 

Stage 4 Lung Cancer

  • At age thirty-six, I had reached the mountaintop; I could see the Promised Land …. then a few weeks later I began having bouts of severe chest pain … my weight began dropping … from 175 to 145 pounds. I developed persistent cough. Little doubt remained.
  • In May 2013, it was confirmed that Paul had a stage 4 non-small cell EGFR-positive lung cancer. At that time he was in his sixth year of residency — one more year to
  • The irony was that Paul had never smoked.

The World’s Best Oncologist

  • The search was on — to find who was the best lung cancer oncologist (USA). Houston and New York had major cancer cancers …The replies came back quickly and more or less unanimously: Emma (also in Stanford) not only was one of the best — a world-renowned oncologist who served as the lung cancer expert on one of the major national cancer advisory boards — but she was also known to be compassionate, someone who knew when to push and when to hold back.
  • On many occasions when consulting Emma, it was clear that this compassionate oncologist did not “dictate things” to her patient. I could hear Emma’s voice again: You have to figure out what’s most important to you.
  • Emma once told Paul: I’m totally happy for us to make your medical plan together; obviously, you’re a doctor, you know what you’re talking about, and it’s your life.
  • At their initial consultation, Paul wanted to discuss the prognosis — possibly how much time left. Emma evaded the question and said, We’re not discussing that.
  • Two months in, Emma remained vague about any prognostication, and every statistics I cited she rebuffed with a reminder to focus on my values.

Temporary Response

Paul had an EGFR-positive tumour. No intravenous chemotherapy was indicated for the moment. He was put on an oral targeted drug called Tarceva.

His cancer responded to the treatment — My lungs, speckled with innumerable tumours before, were clear except for a one-centimetre nodule in the right upper lobe … there had been a clear, dramatic reduction in tumour burden.

Paul regained strength and he returned to work in late 2013, completing his seventh year of residency.

Relapse — Chemotherapy: Too many cooks spoil the broth?

In spring of 2014, the cancer relapsed. The only option left was chemotherapy.  This was what happened after one of his chemo sessions.

  • I began to deteriorate, my diarrhea rapidly worsening … my kidneys began to fail. My mouth became so dry I would not speak or swallow … my serum sodium had reached a near-fatal level. Part of my soft palate and pharynx died from dehydration and peeled out of my mouth … I was transferred to the ICU. I was in pain …. a pantheon of specialists was brought together to help: medical intensivists, nephrologists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, infectious disease specialists, neurosurgeons, general oncologists, thoracic oncologists, otolaryngologist …. 
  • I was acutely aware that with this many voices, cacophony (unpleasant mixture of loud sounds) In medicine, this is known as the WICOS problem: Who Is the Captain Of the Ship? The nephrologists disagreed with the ICU doctors, who disagreed with the endocrinologists, who disagreed with the oncologists, who disagreed with the gastroenterologists. I felt the responsibility of my care… tried to corral all the doctors to keep the facts and interpretations straight.

It is hard to tell laymen, like you and me, to take charge of your own health and treatment when you are in the hospital surrounded by all those experts. But yet, that should be the way it should be!

Chemotherapy took a heavy toll on Paul. He wrote: Withered, I could see my bones against my skin, a living X-ray. At home, simply holding my head up was tiring. Lifting a glass of water required both hands. Reading was out of question.

Chemo Failed – He Died

  • Treatment wasn’t an option — not until I regained some strength.
  • Emma, I said, what’s the next step?
  • Get stronger, That’s it.
  • But when the cancer recurs … I mean, the probabilities …. I paused. First-line therapy (Tarceva) had failed. Second-line therapy (chemo) had nearly killed me. Third-line therapy, if I could even get there, made few promises.
  • You have five good years left, she (Emma) said. She pronounced it, but without authoritative tone of an oracle, without any confidence of a true believer. She said it, instead, like a plea… Doctors, it turns out, need hope, too.

Paul did not live to write the closing chapter of his book. It was left to his wife, Lucy, to document his last hours on earth in the Epilogue. Paul died, two months short of two years (on Monday, 9 March  2015) after his diagnosis. He was 37 years old.

  • In the Epilogue Lucy said, Writing this book was a chance for this courageous … (Paul) to teach us to face death with integrity.

To us who is still living, I also say, Let us learn to embrace death with courage and understanding.

Lessons from Paul’s Experience

As I read this book, I learned many things. And I kept thinking and asking. Let me share my thoughts with you.

Family of Doctors

Paul came from a family of doctors. His father, brother, uncle, wife  are all doctors. Paul was not any ordinary doctor. He was trained in one of the best medical schools in the country. When he had cancer, he had the best oncologist in the world to treat him. Few of us would not have that privilege and opportunity. Perhaps we don’t need the best when it comes to cancer? What difference would that make?

Modern medicine had contributed very much to lighten human sufferings. Let no one doubt about that. But when it comes to cancer and its treatment, perhaps we need to take a step backward, pause and explore more.

43 Wrong-battle-wrong-weapons

48-We-fought-ca-Cancer-won

Yes, many people wrote about the need to rethink the war on cancer, but there are many others who would strongly defend the status quo. Why change? Why look for something else when the present ways serve the Cancer Industry so well?

When my wife and I started CA Care in 1995, to help cancer patients, I knew absolutely nothing about cancer and its treatment. No, I did not go to medical school. I relied on my Ph.D. and my research experience on plants to do what is right for those helpless and hopeless patients. After 20 years of dealing with cancer patients, I can say this to all and sundry. As far as cancer treatment is concerned, there  are other options than just chemo and radiation. Perhaps by taking the non-conventional path, you could live longer, with less suffering and not having to deplete your life’s saving to pay for the medical bills.

I have written numerous studies in these two comic books.

Title-Page-600

Available at http://bookoncancer.com/productDetail.php?P_Id=75

In Lung Cancer – What Now?  I have documented 12 cases of lung cancers – nine of which are about patients who failed to find the cure that they wanted, in spite of spending hundreds of thousands of ringgit on their medical treatments.

Meaningless shrinkage of tumour by Iressa

1 2

Meaningless shrinkage of tumour by Tarceva

3

These two cases happened with patients in Jakarta (above) and in Malaysia (below). And this also happened some years later with Dr. Paul in Stanford. What can we learn from such cases?

Title-page-600

Available:  http://bookoncancer.com/productDetail.php?P_Id=73

In Lung Cancer – Success Stories, I presented 12 cases of patients who opted for “alternative” treatment for their lung cancer.

Statistics of Lung Cancer Survival

4 5 6 7

 

Dr. Paul had Tarceva. This drug helped him for about a year. Then the cancer came back again. He then had chemotherapy and died. He survived 22 months after his initial diagnosis. That happened in Stanford under the care of the best oncologist in the world.

Back in Malaysia, there is also a professor who is the best for lung cancer. According to him, most of his patients who were treated in his clinic died after two years.

The same achievement as in Stanford?

If you do the same thing over and over again. You can expect the same results. Is that not what science teaches us? Remember what Henry Ford and Einstein said.

Insanity both

In this story above, mom opted for CA Care Therapy. She declined chemotherapy even though she was told that without chemo she would die within six months. Professor X was surprised how mom had survived for four years without chemo. Is that an achievement or quackery (like many in the medical industry want us to believe)?

Why haven’t you die yet?

89 10 11

CA Care has been around for about 20 years now.  Like Dr. Paul, my wife and I went into this because it was a “calling” — an answer to my prayer. Looking back, we have no regrets. Instead, we feel blessed to be able to help patients who need our help. They come from far and near.

 

 

 

 

Chemo and Tarceva Did Not Cure His Lung Cancer: Another meaningless decline of tumour markers

Jack (not real name) was 43 years old when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  His problem started in October 2013, when there was a swelling in the right collar bone. Apart from this, there was no other symptoms — no cough, etc.  Jack said in 2013, he had fevers on three occasions that make him feel tired.

A blood test on 24 October 2013 showed his CEA was at 133.3 and CA 19.9 at 9,524.0

A CT scan on 30 October 2013 showed:

  • An irregular lesion in the right lung apex, 35 x 42 x 28 mm.
  • Speckles of calcification in both lungs upper lobe suggesting prior tuberculous infection.
  • Bilateral supraclavicular lymph node 10 to 20 mm.
  • Multiple enlarged mediastinal and right hilar lymph nodes.
  • Numerous small nodules in both lungs – likely metastases.
  • Liver shows a least 7 hypodense lesions, largest 30 x 32 mm in the left lobe – likely metastases.
  • Multiple enlarged lymph nodes in the celiac and paracaval regions.
  • Sclerotic lesions at vertebral bodies of L3, L4 and L5 – likely metastases.

A tru-cut biopsy of the right lung mass was performed and confirmed a moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma.

Jack underwent 6 cycles of chemotherapy. The drug used was Cisplatin. Each cycles cost about RM10,000. The treatment lasted until February 2014.

Let’s follow the progress of Jack’s treatment.

Table 1:  Blood test results during chemotherapy.

Date 24 Oct 13 25 Nov 13 16 Dec 13 6 Jan 14 27 Jan 14 17 Feb 14
Total bilirubin 18.1  H 13.7 15.5 13.5 14.8 17.8
Alkaline phosphatase 210   H 217 147 132 (normal) 148 125
ALT 49 62 59 34 26 23
AST 28 30 30 21 19 17
GGT 114   H n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Platelet 495   H 477 250 258 233
CEA 133.3  H n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
CA 19.9 9,524  H 2,394 325 268 246 195
Before chemo After chemotherapy
At this stage, chemotherapy was very effective and helpful.  Alkaline phosphatase declined. Platelet count was down and CA 19.9 decreased from 9,524 to 195. Bravo – great results.

After the completion of chemotherapy in February 2014, Jack was put on the oral drug Tarceva. He was on Tarceva until June 2015.

His tumour markers – both the CEA and CA 19.9, continued to decrease (Table 2).

 

Table 2: After intravenous chemo, patient was on oral drug, Tarceva.

Date 25 Mar 14 15 Apr 14 14 May 14 16 Jun 14 21 July 14 18 Aug 14
Total bilirubin 31.6 37.7 27.5 25.5 24.6 27.8
Alakaline phosphatase 142 136 125 84 78 66
ALT 26 43 36 17 16 14
AST 27 56 24 20 19 16
GGT n/a n/a 40 26 23 23
Platelet 370 253 281 313 266 281
CEA n/a 28 2.3 1.9 1.6 1.4
CA 19.9 n/a 14 5.0 6.5 <2.0 3.8
Six months on Tarceva (from February 2014 to August 2014) the CEA and CA 19.9 decreased significantly.Again, great results!

From April 2014 to December 2014 Jack also received 6 to 8 monthly injections of Denosumab. This is a monoclonal antibody used to treat bone cancer. It is also known by its brand name, Xgeva and Prolia.

 

Table 3:  CEA and CA 19.9 started to increase even though Jack was on Tarceva.

Date 22 Sep 14 20 Oct 14 24 Nov 14 29 Dec 14
Total bilirubin 21.8 21.6 21.9 27.1
Alakaline phosphatase 66 76 69 77
ALT 16 15 16 16
AST 18 22 19 20
GGT 23 23 26 24
Platelet 277 329 294 299
CEA 2.2 3.9 7.4 12.6
CA 19.9 7.2 6.6 11.4 27.9
From September 2014 both the CEA and CA 19.9 started to increase in spite of Jack being on Tarceva. In September 2014 the CEA was 2.2 and it increased to 12.6 by December 2014. Similarly, CA 19.9 increased from 7.2 to 27.9 during the same period.

Because of the rising CEA and CA 19.9, Jack was again given 4 cycles of chemo. This time the drugs used were Carboplatin + Gemzar. The total treatment cost RM40,000.

 

Table 4: The second round of chemo with Carboplatin + Gemzar produced limited benefits.

Date 26 Jan 15 27 Feb 15 6 Mar 15 13 Mar 15 27 Mar 15
Total bilirubin 24.6 17.6 19.9 15.6 24.7
Alakaline phosphatase 74 87 54 67 61
ALT 16 19 25 20 15
AST 21 17 16 16 14
GGT 27 27 27 27 23
Platelet 315 295 453 192 259
CEA 22.3 21.6 22.0 28.6 29.9
CA 19.9 47.2 44.6 31.9 52.5 70.2
From January to April 2015, Carboplatin + Gemzar regime managed to stabalized the CEA level ranging from 22 to 30. CA19.9 stabalized from 31 to 70 during the same period.

 

Table 5: CEA and CA19.9 on the march — treatment failed!

Date 3 Apr 15 17 Apr 15 24 Apr 15 19 Jun 15
Total bilirubin 20.4 25.8 24.8 33.7
Alakaline phosphatase 49 73 65 73
ALT 24 14 23 12
AST 16 14 18 14
GGT 24 22 24 24
Platelet 509 276 268 321
CEA 29.6 32.7 31.6 93.2
CA 19.9 45.1 52.5 37.7 511.5
Error in platelet reading? In April CEA was around 29 to 31 while CA 19.9 was around 37 to 45.But  barely 2 months after the completion of chemotherapy, the CEA shot up to 93.2 and CA19.9 went up to 511.

Jack said he was disappointed with the results, in spite of the initial good response to chemotherapy. He decided to “shop” for alternative medicine while waiting for his doctor to take the next step.

Comments

This is indeed a sad case but not a unique one. Over the years we have seen cases after cases like this. After the chemo, the tumour markers dropped or the tumour shrunk or disappeared. But such responses did not last long. After a few months, the cancer recurred and this time it became more aggressive.

We sat down with Jack and tried to understand what was going on. No doubt about it, he was very much encouraged with the initial results. Within 8 months of treatment his CA 19.9 which was at 9,524 dropped to less than 2.0. That was a great achievement indeed. Who would not be excited about such feat? But what many patients don’t know or what those who should know do not want to know is that such dramatic drop of CA 19.9 (or even total shrinkage of tumour) is not permanent. It NEVER translates into a cure. It is meaningful in the short term but meaningless in the long term.

Read some of the stories here:

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2015/04/02/lung-cancer-meaningless-temporary-drop-of-cea-after-iressa/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/07/05/the-story-of-moms-lung-brain-bone-cancer/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/04/24/two-billion-rupiah-chemo-and-surgery-failed-oncologist-said-more-chemo-you-just-have-to-trust-me/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/01/27/lung-cancer-meaningless-shrinkage-of-tumour-and-decline-of-tumour-markers-reading/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2013/11/29/lung-cancer-chemo-experiments-that-failed-and-failed/

https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/10/08/metastatic-lung-cancer-meaningless-fall-and-rise-of-cea-with-iressa-and-tarceva/

Let me ask you to ponder what Einstein wrote:

1 Insanity-by-Einstein

Do you see any truth is that statement?

Many of us may want to ask: Where is the problem? What causes this problem? What can we do about it?

Jack told us that his oncologist is a very nice man and he was trying his best to cure him. Understandable. We cannot blame the doctor. Legally and medically, apart from chemo or oral drugs, he has nothing else to offer you. He can’t ask you to take supplements or herbs, etc.

Unfortunately, some oncologists will rip apart those who dare to suggest that patients  take herbs, vitamins or control their diet. Nonsense they say — all these non-medical ways are not scientifically proven.

But hang on, is the present day treatment like above  based on “real science”? Granted, these chemo-drugs have undergone clinical trials and have been approved by Government Authorities. But, what does all this mean? The approved drugs can cure your cancer? Far from it! Ask,  why do we see failures after failures being repeated over and over again? It appears that failures  seems to be the norm rather than an exception.

Chemo drugs 3 percetn effective chemo drugs only 25 percent effective

I have one suggestion for those who want to do something!  Think about it seriously.

Granted, chemo-drugs sometimes can make the tumour markers drop to normal level or the tumour shrunk completely after the treatment. But what do you do after this achievement? Send the patient home and ask him to live the same style of life that he/she had before — the earlier life that promoted his/her cancer?

Free fall

  • What if we have a program that teaches patients how to live a healthy life after being effectively treated?
  • What if we teach them to change their life style and diet?
  • What if we ask them to take supplements, vitamins or herbs to make them healthy?
  • What if we ask them to take time to exercise?

These are things that patients can do for themselves when they go home after their “apparently successful” medical treatment.  Above all, these are “harmless” efforts that can result in a better and healthier cancer-free life.

  • In short, why can’t the medical establishment work together with the alternative healers to try and help patients prevent or minimize their cancer recurrence?

At CA Care we teach patients all the above. We take over after patients decide not to go for any more medical treatments. And often for those who are really committed, we succeeded in helping patients to heal themselves.

 

 

 

The Story of Mom’s Lung-Brain-Bone Cancer

This is the story of a 66-year-old lady who had lung cancer. The cancer has spread to her lymph nodes, bones and brain.

This is what her daughter wrote about her mom.

Mom who cooked and ate meat, dairy, eggs, honey, garlic and onion as part of her diet since young, became a vegan since 3 years ago when she started to follow Master Ching Hai’s teachings.

Mom had high blood pressure for about a decade now. She used to take medicine to control her blood pressure but has since stopped taking it about 6 months now. Mom is a non-smoker.

Since June 2013, mom started to complain about being tired and she slept a lot. She felt no mood or lazy to do housework. We thought all these were due to aging. She also tended to forget things, like misplacing items.

Sometime in early August 2013, she lost her balance and fell. Mom declined to see the doctor.

Mom started to look very tired. She also had a hard time formulated her speech and stammered. She started to take vitamin B12 pills in the hope of improving her condition. We all thought she might suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency being a vegan. Mom wanted to monitor for 2 weeks before seeing a doctor.

Walking extremely slow, one step at a time, and very tired, we brought mom to see a GP. The doctor advised blood test together with a CT scan at a hospital. The doctor suspected a minor stroke.

Mom Had Cancer

We brought mom to a university hospital. Her CEA was more than 1,000. She was referred to an oncologist who suspected mom had cancer. He prescribed mom Dexamathasone, to reduce swelling of the brain and Omezole – to take care of the side effects of the steroid medication.

CT/PET scan on 3 September 2013, confirmed that mom has Stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer had spread to her brain, mediastinal nodes and bones. The next day, she did a biopsy. The tissue was positive to EGFR.

Radiotherapy and Iressa

From 11 to 23 September 2013, mom had 8 session of radiation treatment to her brain. From 21 September to 11  November 2013 (about 7 weeks) she took Iressa.

Deceptive Positive Results

A second  MRI and PET scan was done on 13 November 2013. The results were great! Mom’s brain metastases reduced tremendously. Also the lesions in her lungs shrunk.

However, liver function test taken on 11 November 2013, indicated liver damage.

Mom had to stop Iressa.

Another blood test on 9 December (i.e. 3 weeks after stopping Iressa), indicated liver got better. Mom started to take Iressa again. This time, a table on alternate days. But in January 2014, mom started to take Iressa daily.

More of Deceptive Positive Results

During the Chinese New Year (February 2014) mom started to lose her voice. A third MRI/PET/CT scan was done on done. The results were:

  • The oncologist was pleased with the MRI result. The oncologist mentioned that in September 2013 MRI there were about 50 lesions in her pain. In this February 2014 MRI showed less than 10 lesions. The oncologist said when he first saw mom’s MRI, he did not think mom was going to make it.
  • However, the PET scan results showed a different story. In the September 2013 PET scan it was a nice result with much reduced lesions (almost not seen). But for this February 2014 PET scan results, some lesions had recurred near her right neck (near vocal chords — therefore loss of voice?).
  • The oncologist mentioned that he was very worried, “it looks like the cancer cells got smarter and tried to overcome the Iressa.” Mom was asked to continue with her Iressa.
  • The oncologist, however, suggested a few options:

1. Start chemotherapy on day 1 and day 8, then rest for 3 weeks. In addition, mom take another oral drug, Tarceva or Afatinib (which was recently approved and is now available for free). We told the oncologist that we preferred not to do chemotherapy. As such the oncologists suggested the following options.

2. Start radiotherapy to the body in addition to taking another type of oral drug similar to Iressa.

3. Take only Tarceva or Afatinib without chemotherapy. But the oncologist said this was not a viable option.

  • For  mom’s voice issue, we brought mom to see an ENT specialist. Endoscopy to the nose/throat showed the left vocal cord was not moving (paralysed?) but the right one was doing fine. The ENT specialist said the problem could be due to the cancer. There is no medicine that he could prescribe for mom.

March 2014 — Iressa failed, switched to Tarceva 

  • Blood test on 5 March 2014, showed the tumor markers were slightly higher. The oncologist said he was worried that the cancer cells were growing and spreading. He suggested chemotherapy. He said he would give mom a lower dosage, perhaps 80 percent strength instead of the normal 100 percent strength. However there will be side effects such as low white blood cell count but the doctor said this can be countered by taking medicines. He also mentioned that patients can get better after going through the “weak” phase.
  • As we were reluctant to undergo chemo, the oncologist suggested radiation treatment to the neck and the left side of the lung. This treatment cost RM 9,100. Mom received 10 sessions of radiation.
  • The oncologist switched mom to Tarceva since Iressa doesn’t seem to be effective anymore. Tarceva cost RM 8,000 per month while Iressa cost RM 7,000 per month.
  • On 24 March 2014, mom received her fist xGeva (denosumab)  injection to protect her bones. This cost RM1,600 per shot and mom is supposed to have it every month.
  • 28 March 2014, mom started to lose her appetite.

April 2014 — 9 months Later 

  • Blood test on 7 April 2014 showed mom’s calcium level had gone down a little due the previous xGeva injection. She was prescribed medicine to bring up mom’s calcium level.
  • Mom was having frequent bowel movements. The oncologist said this might be due to the side effect of Tarceva, which causes minor diarrhoea.
  • Mom still had coughs and still choked when drinking fluid. The throat was dry and her voice hoarse. Her appetite was poor.
  • At this point, we discussed chemotherapy with the oncologist.

1. What after one session, we decided to stop the treatment. Any side effect / problem?

Oncologist: Of course we can stop at anytime, no problem.

2. How does the treatment work in terms of session, timing and rest period?

Oncologist: Do chemo on day 1 and 8 and this is considered as one cycle. Do 3 cycles first.

3. Drugs to use?

Oncologist: Two options. One, Carboplatin + Alimta which is more expensive, costing around RM 8,000 per cycle. Two, Carboplatin + Gemcitabine which cost about RM 1,000 per cycle. This option is much easier on patients but may be less effective (?). It it would be Carboplatin + Gemcintabine, the oncologist suggested that mom go for 4 to 6 cycles.

May 2014 — Tarceva Failed 

  • 5 May 2014, we told the oncologist about mom’s side effects. The oncologist recommended to stop Tarceva for 4 days and we were asked to come and see him again after that. He prescribed medications for insomnia, itchiness, and inflammation.
  • 9 May 2014, after 4 days not taking Tarceva, mom got much better. Acnes on scalp were drying up and there were not more rashes. But there seemed to be a new growth at mom’s neck. Oncologist asked mom to take Tarceva again but on alternate day.
  • MRI on 19 May 2014, showed disease progression. There were about 7 tumours.
  • PET/CT scan on 21 May 2014, showed disease progression:

1. Lymph node at the neck has enlarged.

2. Few new lesions at T9. 

The Final War Plan 

The oncologist laid out the following options.

  1. Tackle the brain first – and fast! He recommended that mom go for Cyberknife and then followed up with chemotherapy. After that mom continue taking the oral drug again after 4 months. If mom’s backache persist then we need to give radiation to that location.
  2. The oncologist also explained that giving mom whole brain radiation again would cause more side effects (e.g. sleepy, headaches) and only low radiation dosage could be give. If mom’s goes for Cyberknife she shouldn’t have such side effects because Cyberknife is more targeted.
  3. Cyberknife cost RM 67,000.
  4. Another option is to go for chemotherapy first. Do MRI after 1 or 2 months and if the tumour is shown to be growing very fast then go for Cyberknife.
  5. The oncologist assured us the mom would be able to tolerate chemotherapy. The only thing we need to really watch out is the white blood cell count.
  6. Mom will have to continue with her monthly xGeva injection to strengthen her bone.

One Final but Most Important Question

Can all these treatment cure mom?

The answer is: No cure. There is no guarantee that the cancer will not recur even after Cyberknife. 

CA Care – the Last Resort, 23 May 2014 

Patient came to seek our help and was prescribed herbs. On 8 June 2014, patient and her husband and daughter came to CA Care Penang and underwent the e-Therapy for her pains.

Comments

As I was about to upload this story, I received an email from Singapore. This is what it says.

Dear Mr Teo, 

My husband, age 61 was diagnosed with lung cancer 2 years ago. He was on Iressa since last year September 2013. Two months ago the oncology asked him to start chemo as he has developed tightness in the chest. We decline. So we just have to carry on with Iressa. Two weeks ago he developed bloatedness  in the stomach with  wind and fluid. Again oncologist scheduled him for chemo this coming Monday. Currently he feels  very fatigue and is too weak to go for chemo cause he lose a lot a weight. 

We are not in favour of chemo because in year 2012 he had gone through that already and we find it is too damaging to the lung and show no result because 10 months later lung had fluid. 

It is indeed sad.

1 Insanity-by-Einstein

Don’t those who are supposed to know, know that Iressa does not cure any cancer? And chemo does not cure lung cancer either? Click this link: https://cancercaremalaysia.com/category/lung-cancer/ and you will see that I have written no less than 70 stories about lung cancer and chemotherapy / Iressa / Tarceva, etc.

Can we not learn something from these stories? 

More stories about this patient:

Lung-Bone-Brain Cancer: Pain Gone After 4 Days of e-Therapy

Pain Recurred After Eating Rojak

Lung Cancer: Given Honest Answers Patient May Run Away from Chemotherapy

SS (E345) is a 55-yer-old lady. Her problem started around October 2013 when she started to have coughs with a bit of phlegm. There was no blood. She consulted a GP who gave medication but the problem persisted on and off. At last she requested her GP to do an X-ray of her chest. There was “something” in her lung. SS was referred to a hospital in her hometown for a CT scan.

CT scan done on 18 October 2013 showed a lobulated mass at the right hilar region. It measures 2.9 x 3.2 cm. SS was asked to consult a lung expert in a private hospital in Penang.

Bronchoscopy and Surgery Failed

SS did a bronchoscopy. In this procedure the doctor inserts a bronchoscope into the nose or mouth. This allows him to view the inside of the airways and lungs. Unfortunately for SS, the bronchoscope could not penetrate the passageway deep enough and the doctor saw nothing!  Fluid taken from the lung during the procedure did not show presence of malignant cells.

The doctor suggested a better option would be to do an open surgery. SS agreed but she was asked to do a PET scan first. The PET scan results on 30 October 2013 showed:

  • No intracranial lesion is seen.
  • Few small 5- 7 mildly active hypodense lymph nodes are seen in the right and left side of the neck.
  • A 42 mm metabolic active mass is seen in the middle of the right lung. Multiple smaller 2-7 mm nodules are seen in the rest of the right lung.
  • Few metabolic active lymph nodes measuring 14-26 mm are seen in the right para-trachea, subcarinal and right hilar region of the mediastinum are noted.

Composite

 

Based on the PET scan results the doctor was optimistic that surgery would provide good “success.” SS proceed with the surgery as recommended by the doctor. Unfortunately it was an open-close job – failed. The doctor took some tissue samples for biopsy.

The result of the biopsy indicated:

  • right pleural node biopsy: no malignancy seen.
  • right lower lobe biopsy: well differentiated adenocarcinoma.
  • right medial lobe: metastatic adenocarcinoma.
  • right paratracheal node: metastatic adenocarcinoma.

The tissue is positive for EGFR (meaning oral drugs such Iressa or Tarceva is indicated).

 

 

Consultation with Oncologist

SS was referred to the in-house oncologist for further management. The following are excerpts of our conversation.

Daughter: The oncologist said it is better to take oral medication than undergoing chemotherapy (infusion). Chemo has more bad side effects. My mother can take either Iressa or Tarceva.

Chris: Did you take the drug?

D: No. I asked the oncologist the following questions:

a) Are there side effects of the oral drug. His answer: Yes, patients may become itchy and have pimples or sores.

b) Can the oral drug cure my mother? His answer: Cannot cure. It is just to control.

c) Control for how long? His answer: It all depends on the patients.

d) From your experience, how long does the control last? His answer: For some patients the control lasted for one year. After one year, the drug was not effective anymore. But for some other patients the control lasted for 2 years before becoming ineffective.

e) After Iressa becomes ineffective, what do we do next? His answer:  Go for chemotherapy (injection).

D: The cost of Iressa is more than RM 200 per tablet. It comes to about RM 8,000 per month. Why take it when it is not going to be effective?

C: After 1 or 2 years on the drug, you will then have to go for chemo. Did you ask if chemo is going to cure your mother?

D: No, chemo cannot cure her. Each chemo costs about RM 2,000 per cycle. Later cycles would cost more – RM4,000 to RM5,000. She needs to do 4 to 6 cycles first and then we will see what happen after that.

Reluctant Q & A Session at RM 100

C: When you ask such questions, did you see if the oncologist was happy to answer you?

D: He seemed very reluctant and uneasy. Appeared like he had the answer and he did not have the answer. Also appeared like wanting to answer and not wanting to answer.

C: How long was your consultation?

D: About an hour and his consultation cost RM 100.

C: Wow, that’s great! One hour! I am indeed very surprised that he gave you so much time. You as patient, need to ask and ask the doctor such questions before undergoing any treatment. Be empowered and don’t be dumb. Now, go home and read this comic book::

Title-Page-600

(See https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/04/14/info-about-lung-cancer-ignorance-kills/)

I have written many books but many people find reading difficult. Some people don’t want to read. Now, I make comic books instead so that you don’t have to read too much. You can finish reading this book within an hour. So go home and read this. Learn from the stories of these people. Be empowered – be smart. Example, if you take Iressa and this cost you RM 8,000 per month. So, for a year, that would come to about RM 90,000. But can it cure you? No! In addition you have to suffer from itchiness, etc.

Opted for Chemo at Government Hospital

C: Your head – bald? Why?

D: She had chemo at the government hospital in January 2014. She completed 4 cycles – each cycle at 3 weeks interval.

C: Did you suffer?

Patient: Not very bad. I was constipated. My head and some parts of my body became itchy.

C: Did you have to pay for the chemo?

D: Yes, RM 50 per cycle. They used Gemcitabine (Gemzar) + Cisplatin. After the fourth cycle, the CT scan showed stable result.

C: Okay, at least you did it at the GH and did not have to pay so much. If you were to do it at a private hospital, it could cost you anywhere from RM 4,000 to RM5,000 per cycle. (Note: For comparison, a patient from Indonesia has 12 cycles of chemo (same drugs – Gemcitabine + Cisplatin) in a private hospital in Singapore. The total bill came to RM 0.5 million. And the treatment also failed. See: https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/04/24/two-billion-rupiah-chemo-and-surgery-failed-oncologist-said-more-chemo-you-just-have-to-trust-me/ ).

Do more chemo, and more chemo – until you die?

Patient: The tumour did not grow bigger. It did not get small either.

D: The doctor said my mother had to take Iressa or Tarceva as a follow up. I again asked how long must my mother need to be on this oral drug. The answer: It all depends on the patient. When Iressa becomes ineffective, she will go for chemo again. So we decided not to take the drug.

C: It seems that you are going round and round the same road.

D: You do the chemo.  Then you take oral medication. Then go for chemo again. Then take oral drug again.

C: Did you ask when can you stop the treatment?

D: No, no idea.

C: Oh, see how long can you stand the treatment? Then until you die?

D: Exactly.

C: So they are being honest with you. You need to know that there is no cure for lung cancer – even with chemo!

Take Home Lessons From This Case

1. There is no cure of lung cancer. The oncologist acknowledged that.

2. But of course, there is treatment (provided you have the money to pay for it, or are willing to endure the side effects).

3. According to the oncologist, take oral drug – Iressa or Tarceva. You will suffer less side effects.

4. Iressa or Tarceva does not cure. It may cost you RM 8,000 per month. And it may be effective for one or 2 years only.

5. When you have reached the dead end with oral drug, go for i/v (injection) chemo which also cannot cure.

6. Then, if you are still alive and still have the money to spend, go for oral drug again.

Have plenty of money to splurge?

You have an option to go to Singapore  — go to the best and the famous. There they may also give the same stuff, chemo with Gemcitabine (Gamzar)  + Cisplatin. That seems to be the gold standard.

A patient from Indonesia paid about RM 500,000 (half a million ringgit!) for 12 cycles of that stuff. Result: miserable failure. https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2014/04/24/two-billion-rupiah-chemo-and-surgery-failed-patient-said-ill-die-not-because-of-my-cancer-its-because-of-the-chemo/

Another Indonesian, was treated with one oral drug after another interspersed with chemo, over a period of about 3 years. He spent about half a million ringgit as well. Result: just the same failure and the cancer got worse. https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2013/11/29/lung-cancer-chemo-experiments-that-failed-and-failed/

Yet another Indonesia had chemo after chemo and spent about one million Singapore dollars and he died after about 2 years of treatment.

I have learned something interesting from this case study. If you wish to try your luck with chemotherapy but do not have the money to splurge, you still have a chance! Go to the (Malaysian) government hospital. This patient (SS) paid only RM 50 for a cycle of chemo with Gemcitabine + Cisplatin. For 4 cycles she only paid RM 200 — compared to half a million ringgit in Singapore! After all they use the same toxic drugs anyway! And the result is just the same,  FAILURE – wherever you go!

If you want to opt for less hefty medical bills, then go local.  Only that  you don’t get to become the patient of the best and the famous.  The husband of one lung cancer told me he spent about RM 300,000 over 2 years on his wife’s treatment. HIs wife took Iressa and had chemo after chemo. She died just after her husband came to see us.

The Desperate and Unproductive Hunt for the Non-Existent Cure For His Lung Cancer

Tag (not real name) was a 59-year-old man from Indonesia. In April 2011, he had coughs with itchy throat. He went to see his doctors and was give medication but these did not help. In August 2011, he came to Penang for further consultation.  A CT scan on 22 August 2011 showed an irregular mass (6.6 x 8.0 cm) in the upper left lung extending to the pulmonary hilum with left hilar and mediastinal adenopathy. He also complained of pain in the left pelvis. MRI done on 6 September 2011 showed lesion at the body of C6, body and left pedicle of the L5 vertebra. This was probably metastatic in nature.  The doctor said Tag had a Stage 4 cancer.

Subsequently Tag underwent 5 sessions of radiation treatment to his neck area.  He also received Zometa injection and the oral drug, Tarceva. But later EGFR testing showed no mutation so Tarceva was discontinued. Tag underwent chemotherapy with Alimta (Pemetrexed ) plus cisplatin.

Tag was told that chemotherapy would not be able to cure him but would prolong his life. He was told he had 6 months to live.

After radiation and chemotherapy Tag seldom cough and the pain in the cervical and lumbar vertebrae nearly disappeared.

Re-examination of his chest CT scan showed his lung tumour had increased in size. Tag went to China for further treatment in October 2011. In China Tag underwent a biopsy again.  The cancer was again confirmed as a poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma.  Tag underwent the following treatments in China:

  1. Microvessel interventional chemotherapy using Alimta + cisplatin and nano material.
  2. Cryotherapy under CT guidance.
  3. Iodin-125 seed implantation under ultrasound guidance – 10 seeds were implanted in the lymph nodes.

All done, the treatment in China consisted of 5 cycles of chemotherapy, 2 times of cryotherapy and one Iodine seed implantation. The treatment was spread over  a few visits, each lasting 1, 3 or 6 weeks.

In March 2012, Tag returned to Indonesia and continued to receive chemotherapy with Alimta at the local hospital.

In August 2012 Tag returned to China again. After receiving one cycle of chemotherapy his condition “dropped” (worsened). He was asked to go home to Indonesia.

Not satisfied, Tag came to Penang again – to be hospitalized in the same hospital that he had received his first treatment.  His main concern was his elevated leucocytes count. He was rather obsessed with this high number.  He was only given antibiotics infusion because he refused anymore chemo-drugs. In spite of the antibiotics Tag’s leucocytes count remain stubbornly high.

In the meantime while in the hospital, Tag’s wife came to CA Care and asked for our opinion.  The following are the images of his CT and PET scans.

Based on his medical history and failed medical treatment, I told Tag’s wife to learn how to accept and face reality. There would be no cure. And for him to come to Penang and check into a hospital trying to reduce his leucocytes count was surely mind boggling! He was barking at the wrong tree! Perhaps this is what Professor Jane Plant meant when she wrote, Conventional cancer treatment can process patients to the extent that they no longer understand what is really being done to them.  They have lost the ability to think rationally! They come wanting to only hear that they can be cured.

Tag’s wife told me that after a few days on antibiotics infusion, the doctor planned to do a PET scan. I objected to this idea. What is the whole rationale of doing scan  over and over again? Know that all these procedures are not good for cancer patients. Do it only if it is absolutely necessary. Just two months ago, you did a CT scan. Now you want to do it again. What do you expect to see and get?

I advised her to bring Tag home as soon as convenient.  And if he was agreeable to take herbs, then he can start on our therapy while at home. If he were to stay in Penang, he would have problems cooking, preparing the herbs, etc. It would do him a lot of good to stay home in a familiar environment.

Unfortunately, the next day my wife received a SMS informing us the Tag would want to go ahead and do the PET scan!

A few days later, Tag and his wife came to our centre after being discharged from the hospital. No, his stay in the hospital receiving the antibiotic infusion did not do any good at all. Then Tag complained that his arm was painful after the PET scan and asked if I have any herbs for this. My answer, Go back to your doctor and ask him to “repair” you.

After some days in Penang, Tag and his wife went home to Indonesia with a supply of herbs.

Sometime later, I received an email from his son informing that Tag had gone into a hospital in Jakarta. He still complained that his leucocytes count was high!  After a few days, his son wrote to say that Tag did another PET scan and this time he was concerned with the infected lymph nodes in his neck.

On 14 October 2012, I received an email from a medical doctor who is actually Tag’s relative. This is what the lady doctor wrote:

Hi Prof, I had sent you an email last week, did you receive it? Prof, last couple of weeks there was my family member with lung cancer  who  came to Penang..Now he is in hospital in Jakarta. There is fluid in his lung, The main tumor in his lung grew bigger and so he experienced dyspnea (breathlessness). Doctor wanted to do radiation to the main tumor  because it is pressing his airway. I want to ask, can we give him Ascites tea? What do you think of radiation? He keeps drinking your tea. What about the radiation, should he do it? Thank you for your help. Best regards

Reply:  Hello  B. Sorry for taking so long to write you. I have been busy with so many patients needing my attention. Okay about your relative. I am afraid it is difficult for me to say anything or help. He did not follow my advice. Even when he was in Penang he was in the hospital trying to make his leucocytes count lower!!! I told him you are doing the wrong thing in the wrong hospital. When the doctor wanted to do PET scan his wife SMSed my wife. I told him earlier not to do the PET scan.but the next day he did the PET scan! After he went home to Jakarta his son wrote that he had another PET scan!!!

I really don’t know. Since he is in the hospital, let the doctors take care of him. He is NOT like you …you followed what I said. He did not. Well, that is the way it is. I am not angry but I just give up. It is better for me to move on and help others who really need me. Take care and I believe you father is doing fine. Regards, Chris

23 October 2012: Prof, thank you for your reply, but unfortunately patient died last week in a hospital. He had been in ICU for 1 week. I have same problem here too. One of my family member  — 29-year-old, breast cancer metastised to the bone, liver, brain, pancreas and lungs. She did all that the doctor instructed — TACI, streotactic for her brain, etc. It is very difficult to persuade any person, if she does not believe us …even after she saw my father’s case. I also give up. Let her make her own decision. At least I have given her all the information. My father is in a good shape, he is gaining weight 12 kg, but still on Iressa. Regards, B.

(Note: Why did this lady doctor, B write such an email? The full story of her father’s recovery from advanced lung cancer is found in my latest book  below – Chapter 11 Lung-Bone-Brain Cancer: When Doctor and Herbalist Collaborate Miracle Happens.)

(Available at http://bookoncancer.com/productDetail.php?P_Id=56)

 Comments

  1. Blind faith and trust in technology

2. Difficulty to recognize that doing nothing could be a better option!

The behavior of this patient really puzzled me.  He came to ask for our opinion. He wanted to try our herbs, but he would not listen to what we say. There is no reason for such person to come and see us in the first place! Even more so, this man had done all the medical treatments and nothing had helped him. But why go on doing the same thing all over again?

In trying to understand him, I asked, What is your occupation?  This is one question I would never my patients, especially during the first visit. To me who you are is not relevant and I don’t want to be bias or influenced by your answer. But in this case I thought by knowing what he is will shed some light about the attitude of the person. His answer:  I am an administrator in the government.  That explains it all. I told him, Your job is to make people follow rules. If they don’t follow what you say, you give them “hell.” You follow the rules handed down to you without questioning.  You can do that with the human beings that you “administer”, but unfortunately cancer in you does not behave according to your wishes or rule. You have cancer in you and you want the leucocytes count to come down – by just decreasing that number does not cure you at all. I told you not to do the PET scan but you did it anyway because the doctor said so! You follow “the authority“ like you do in your job. Unfortunately it does not work when it comes to cancer. 

3. Not all patients who come to us find healing!

At our centre is a poster on the wall. It says:

You come to find the best doctor
There is none here, because the best doctor is found within you. 
We too wish to find the best, that is the best patient.
For it is with the best patient that we can both find healing together — for you!
Tag came to us after knowing that the father of the lady doctor above recovered from his lung cancer. This man had cancer in 2010, a year earlier than Tag. His cancer is more advanced than Tag’s –having spread from his lung to his brain and bone. Yes, this man is still doing fine as of this writing.  Why does he not die likeTag? It is because he chose “to do nothing.” Doing nothing does NOT mean that you go home and wait to die! It means you do not need to follow “the so-called established authority” and follow what they tell you to do. Dr. B’s father refused to “medical authority”. He went for alternative therapy. Unfortunately it did not work out well at first. He went down to the bottom of the pit before he found CA Care. That was when his two daughters flew to see us in Penang asking for help. Daughter B is a medical doctor and we agreed that we should work together and avoid as much invasive and toxic treatments as possible. The patient recovered.

Tag was able to see what happened to Dr. B’s father, who actually is a relative. But Tag wanted to follow his own path – doing things his own way. He followed the well established “rules” because he was “trained” not to question “authority.”

We just have to learn to understand him!

Metastatic Lung Cancer: Meaningless Fall and Rise of CEA With Iressa and Tarceva

DS is a 54-year-old lady from Singapore. In 2010, she had persistent coughs for about six months.  In November 2010, she went to the hospital after having severe headaches and vomiting.  She was hospitalised for tests. Subsequent imaging procedures revealed lung cancer that had spread to her bones and brain.

 

Brain scan on 29 November 2010: Multiple small intra-axial solid and ring enhancing lesions in the brain parenchyma. Findings highly suggestive of brain metastasis.

CT Thorax of 30 November 2010: A 4.8 x 4.6 cm mass is seen in the medial basal segment of the left lower lobe.  Few satellite nodules measuring up to 1.2 cm are also seen distally in the left lower lobe. Left hilar lymph nodes are enlarged measuring up to 2.6 x 1.4 cm. Further, mediastinal lymph adenopathy is also seen involving the subcarinal and aorto pulmonary lymph nodes. Small subcentimeter sized pre tracheal lymph nodes are also seen.

Bone scan on 8 December 2010: Abnormal uptake projected over the right scapula /glenoid, suspicious of metastasis. Indeterminate uptake at the L5 vertebra. Mildly increased tracer uptake over the right temporal-mandibular junction. Degenerative changes involving the sternum, knees and feet.

DS was treated with Iressa (150 mg daily from December 2010 to mid-April 2012) and monthly injection of Zometa  (for her bones). Iressa was stopped after the drug was found to be no more effective.

Her doctor then prescribed Tarceva. From mid-April 20-12 to June 2012, DS was on Tarceva (75 mg daily, and one 150 mg pill taken every two days).  DS still continued receiving Zometa infusion once a month.

Within two weeks on Tarceva she suffered side effects such as: pimples and rashes. The doctor reduced the dosage to half. Her tumour marker – CEA – kept on rising. The lung tumour increased in size, her bone and brain metastases worsened.

 

Vitamins and Supplements

  1. Barley Green / chorella powder
  2. Vitamin B12 or B-complex
  3. Vitamin C – 500 mg
  4. Calcium 800 mg
  5. IP6 (inosital hexaphosphate) 800 mg
  6. Milk thistle
  7. Glucosamine + Chondrotin
  8. Omega 3 or Krill oil
  9. Curcumin extract
  10. Probiotics plus enzymes
  11. Chia seeds, protein shakes, blueberry concentrate.

CT Thorax of 27 October 2011: Since CT scan of 30 May 2011, a mixed response is seen where the dominant left lower lobe nodule shows increase in size whereas the subcentimeter nodule nodule in the left lower lobe lateral basal segment has virtually resolved.

Bone Scan of 13 April 2012: Scan shows foci of increased tracer uptake at: inferior glenoid region of the right scapula (more intense and extensive); T12 vertebra (new) and L5 vertebra (more extensive). Since 25 May 2011, there is interval progression of bone metastases.

MRI Brain with Contrast of 16 April 2012: There are multiple new areas of pial /cortical as well as parenchymal enhancing lesions, highly suggestive of metastases.

Now, the doctor is suggesting that DS undergo chemotherapy with Alimta + Cisplatin. She refused.

DS decided to stop Tarceva and came to Penang to seek our help. She presented with the following:

  1. Pains in left shoulder (scale 5 out of 10) if carry things.
  2. Chest congested and “tight.”
  3. “Crawling” sensation on back of head and sometimes face.
  4. Internal “ticks or twitches” on face.
  5. Sometimes, feet swollen.
  6. Urination 7 to 8 times during waking hours, once at night.
  7. Persistent non-productive coughs. Sometimes felt like being strangled and this feeling passes after a while. Very strong coughing fits sometimes causes urinary incontinence.
  8. Pain in chest after coughing.

DS was prescribed Capsule A, Lung 1 and 2 tea, Brain 1 tea, Bone Tea, Pain Tea and Cough 10 and Cough 11.

Her AcuGraph reading on 7 September 2012 appeared fairly good compared to other cancer patients. She had imbalances of her LU (lung), SP (spleen), KI (kidney) and GB (gall bladder) meridians.  Based on this reading, DS was prescribed A-Lung-2 and A-Kid-2 tea.

 

 

 

 

Comments

If you have been reading our articles in this website, I am sure you would have come across stories of lung cancer patients who have taken Iressa and /or Tarceva.  I think I have said and written enough, just read the stories below:

Lung Cancer and the Side Effects of Iressahttps://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/08/15/lung-cancer-and-the-side-effects-of-iressa/  

Meaningless Shrinking of Tumour by Chemotherapy https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/05/26/meaningless-shrinking-of-tumour-by-chemotherapy/ 

Lung Cancer: The Meaningless Decrease and Increase of Tumour Markers After Chemotherapy https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/04/30/lung-cancer-the-meaningless-decrease-and-increase-of-tumour-markers-after-chemotherapy/ 

Meaningless Shrinking of Tumor While on Tarceva https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/04/26/meaningless-shrinking-of-tumor-while-on-tarceva-treatment/ 

Meaningless Decline of CA 15.3 and Tumour Shrinkage Following Treatment With Iressa and Tarceva https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/04/26/meaningless-decline-of-ca-15-3-and-tumour-shrinkage-following-treatment-with-iressa-and-tarceva/ 

Lung Cancer: After One-and-half Years of Iressa, He Moved to Tarceva https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/09/04/lung-cancer-after-one-and-half-years-of-iressa-he-moved-to-tarceva/

Mom With Lung Cancer: Surprise! Surprise! Four Years on Herbs and Still Doing Well! https://cancercaremalaysia.com/2012/08/30/mom-with-lung-cancer-surprise-surprise-four-years-on-herbs-and-still-doing-well/

Let me conclude with some quotations for you to reflect on:

 

 

Lung Cancer: After One-and-half Years of Iressa, He Moved to Tarceva

SS is a 73-year-old male from Johor. He was a casual smoker of about 20 plus years. Sometime in early 2010, he experienced weight loss and lack of energy. There was no cough. He went to the general hospital and fainted while there. A CT scan on 13 May 2010 indicated lung cancer, as below.

SS was subsequently referred to the university hospital in Kuala Lumpur. He was started on the oral drug, Iressa, on 21 February 2011.

On 22 June 2011 another CT scan was done and the results showed:

  1. The mass in the left lower lobe has increased in size from 2.3 x 2.7 x 1.0 cm to 4.0 x 2.2 x 3.1 cm.
  2. The adjacent pleural base mass has increased in size from 6.8 x 2.1 x 8.0 cm to 6.9 x 2.1 x 6.7 cm.
  3. New lung nodule in the right upper lobe.

Impression: Comparison with the previous CT scan there is progression of the disease.

SS continued taking Iressa and was monitored regularly by CT scan.

CT scan done on 19 September 2011 showed the following:

CT scan on 12 December 2011 showed:

  1. A slight reduction of the pleural base mass.
  2. No significant changes in the size of the left lower lobe mass.
  3. Multiple liver lesions and solitary right lung nodule, no significant changes compared to previous study.

A comparison study with CT was done on 26 March 2012. The results showed:

  1. The lung mass in the left lower lobe is still seen and appears slightly increase in size – measures 3.9 x 2.9 cm (previously 2.6 x 2.5 cm).
  2. The adjacent bronchiectatic change remains.
  3. Three lung nodules seen in left upper lobe each measures 2- 5 mm; previously only one seen in the right apex.
  4. Multiple persistent hypodense lesions in the liver in segments 8, 5, 2, 3, and 4 remains similar in sizes and appearance.
  5. Underlying generalised osteopenia and degenerative spine changes.
  6. Left thyroid lobe hypodense lesions remain similar.
  7. No suspicious lytic bone lesions.

Scans on 13 May 2010 & 19 September 2011 (top) and 26 March 2012 (below)

SS came to seek our help on 19 August 2012. He was told by his doctor that Iressa was not effective and about a week ago he was asked to stop Iressa and this was replaced with Tarceva.

SS had been taking Iressa for almost one and half years at a cost of about RM 7000 per month. Tarceva costs him RM 8,900 per month.

SS said he wanted to try out herbs and would not wish to continue with his doctor’s medication.

SS’s  meridian bioenergy was read using the AcuGraph (below):

There is a marked energy imbalance between the upper   (left) and lower part of his body (right). We prescribed herbs to correct the imbalance of his LU and BL energy.  SS also told us that he has problems with his prostate. Unfortunately, no one has addressed this problem. For this, we prescribed Prostate A tea. In addition we prescribed SS Capsule A, C-tea, Lung 1 and Lung 2 teas, for his cancer.

Comments

As I was writing this article, a lady from Singapore wrote:

Dear Chris,

I am thinking of going up to Penang to consult you … I was diagnosed in December 2010, with lung cancer (adenocarcinoma), with metastasis to the brain, adrenal glands, lymph nodes and bone. I took Iressa for 1 year, then switched to Tarceva when the CEA started climbing up again. CEA went down from 400+ to 28 within the first few months of taking Iressa, then plateaued for a few months and then started climbing again from December 2011. I am currently on Tarceva.

The case of SS happened in Kuala Lumpur. Now you see a similar story repeated in Singapore! I am reminded by what was supposed to be said by Einstein below:

If you are following and reading this website you will know that cases like the above are not rare or exceptional! May be the results are and can be expected to happen to you! Read: https://cancercaremalaysia.com/category/lung-cancer/

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting anyone is insane here. What I am suggesting here is: Why don’t you be a bit WISER?

I remember my friend SK. He did not go to any university but he was wise. You don’t have to be a university graduate to be a wise person! SK had lung cancer that had spread to his liver. He said: I saw the oncologist. He told me to do the chemo. When I saw everybody do chemo, everybody do radiotherapy, I told myself this must be the only way. I went back to the doctor and asked him to do the chemo on me. So SK underwent both chemo and radiotherapy. He did not get well but instead ended up with three more tumours in his liver. And they were growing in size. SK told me: I knew then that I had taken the wrong path. I started to find other ways. You can listen to his story here.

Why do people keep repeating the same, old “mistake”? Perhaps ignorance! Perhaps they are just being stubborn or even arrogant – believing that they know better! But often it is just plain powerlessness, being placed in a situation that a person does not know what else to do. SK knew he had a choice – to find other options and not repeating the same “mistake” which Einstein said is insanity

Like SK, you should know that you too have a choice. But for some people it is better to choose the devil that you know than the angel that you don’t know!

I have no problem with what you choose. My responsibility ends after telling you the truth the way I know it. So, be wise and make your choice.

What Your Need to Know About Iressa (or gefinitib)

  • The US-FDA approved Iressa for lung cancer based on the results of a study of 216 patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), including 142 patients with refractory disease, i.e., tumors resistant or unresponsive to two prior treatments.
  • The response rate (defined as at least 50% tumor shrinkage lasting at least one month) was about 10%.
  • On September 24, 2002, the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) recommended that where there are no viable treatment options, a 10% response rate was reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit and recommended that Iressa be approved. Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23250 

If you understand this statement correct, it just means this: Iressa does not cure lung cancer. Iressa  caused shrinkage of tumours for at least a month in only 10 percent of patients.  Many alternative practitioners (including me) will tell you that shrinkage of tumour is just plain meaningless. Ask yourself: Why do I take Iressa? Is it to cure my lung cancer? Is it to only shrink by lung tumour for a few months and then it grows back again? 

Possible side effects:  Each person’s reaction to any drug is different. Some people have very few side effects, while others may experience more:  Diarrhoea, acne-like rash, loss of appetite, feeling sick (nausea) and being sick (vomiting), tiredness, eye problems, change in blood pressure, breathing problems and it is potentially very serious, and a small number of people have died because of the lung problems they have developed while taking Iressa.  Source:  http://www.andygaya.com/chemotherapy/chemotherapy-gefitinib.html 

Cost:  About RM 7000 per month

What Your Need to Know About Tarceva (or erlotinib)

Between August 2001 and January 2003, researchers enrolled 731 patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease had progressed after one or two courses of chemotherapy. The patients were divided randomly into two groups. One group (488 patients) received Tarceva and the other group (243 patients) received a placebo.

Results 

  • Those who took Tarceva has a median survival of 6.7 months compared to 4.7 months for those on placebo.
  • At one year, 31 percent of the patients taking Tarceva were still alive compared to 22 percent of those taking the placebo.
  • The time it took before the cancer progressed was also longer in the Tarceva group – 2.2 months compared to 1.8 months in the placebo group.
  • Researchers found certain subsets of patients were most likely to respond to Tarceva: Asians; women; patients with adenocarcinoma; and those who had never smoked.
  •  Patients receiving Tarceva experienced more toxic side effects. For example, 9 percent of the Tarceva group suffered from moderate-to-serious rash while none of the placebo group did. Overall, 5 percent of patients stopped taking Tarceva because of toxic effects as compared to 2 percent of those taking placebo. Source: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/results/summary/2004/lung-and-erlotinib0604

If you understand the results of the above research, you will know that Tarceva does not cure any lung cancer. Those who took Tarceva lived longer by 2 months (median survival 6.7 months vs 4.7 months). After one year, 31 percent of patients were still alive – meaning 69 percent of patients died even if they took Tarceva. If you take Tarceva, your lung cancer progression is delayed by 0.4 months — 0.4 months? What does that mean – the disease slowed down by just about 2 weeks only?

Study the numbers carefully. Ask yourself again: Why am I taking Tarceva? Is it going to cure me? And it is proven that Tarceva produced toxic effects on patients – 9 percent of patients in the study gave up taking Tarceva because of the side effects.

Possible side effects: Skin changes, tiredness (fatigue) and a general feeling of weakness, feeling sick and being sick, eye problems, changes in hair growth, sore mouth and ulcers, loss of appetite, and breathing problems. Source:  http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertreatment/Treatmenttypes/Biologicaltherapies/Cancergrowthinhibitors/Erlotinib.aspx

 Cost:  RM 8,900 per month.

As a conclusion, you may ask: But what choice do I have?  There is no choice if you choose to remain deaf, dumb and blind to what is going on around you!  At least to start with read what I have written in here:  https://cancercaremalaysia.com/category/lung-cancer/

Meaningless Decline of CA 15.3 and Tumour Shrinkage Following Treatment With Iressa and Tarceva

I received an e-mail from Dr. Mark (not real name), a Ph.D. in cancer biology working in a hospital. This is what he wrote:

After visiting the CA CARE website … I realized that this is what I have been looking for in order to help my mum. I would like my mum to try your herbal therapy.

My mum is 70 years old.

At the end of April 2007, she kept complaining of stomach discomforts, bloatedness and loss of appetite. She saw a Gastro-specialist and the diagnosis was H. pyroli infection and she was given antibiotic treatment. Unexpectedly, an X-ray test was also done and her lung was found abnormal. She did a CT scan and blood test including tumor markers on that same day. The results showed a possibility of lung cancer. One week later she did a lung biopsy. The result showed that the lung tumor mass was a moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma. However, she didn’t have breathing problems or coughs at that time.

She was then referred to an oncologist at the same hospital. My mum is an Asian woman with non-smoking history and the tumor type is adenocarcinoma. Hence she falls into the category that may respond well to a new targeted drug called Iressa. The doctor said we can monitor her progress using CA15.3, the tumor marker with highest titer when first found (5,147 on 24 April 2007).

After one month of taking Iressa, her CA15.3 went down to 367 (on 28 May 2007).

On 30 July 2007, it declined further to 68. 

We were so happy that the drug worked so well. A CT scan showed that tumor had shrunk (August 2007).

At the forth month, the CA15.3 raised to 154 (on 27 August). The doctor was a bit worried but mum continued taking Iressa.

A month later the marker rose to 713 (on 28 September 2007). A CT scan showed more shadow in the lung compared to scan done in August 2007. She did a brain CT scan for the first time and some metastases were found in the brain and bones but the lesions were small.

My mother started taking another targeted drug called Tarceva (works on similar mechanism but seemed to be more effective). She had side effects like rashes, dry skin and loss of appetite.

We were very positive of this new drug because according to the literatures more side effects means higher chances of response. However one month after taking the Tarceva, her CA 15.3 went up to 1,496 (on 26 October 2007). The doctor suggested that she go ahead and take for one more month and then do a CT scan after that. I have asked the doctor if results showed that Tarceva doesn’t work, will he put my mum into chemotherapy. He said yes, but due to my mum’s weak conditions, it will be a mild one.

Besides having Tarceva, she is on Bonefos for her bone metastasis. We also give her supplements.

On 18 December 2007, I received an e-mail from Dr. Mark again. He wrote:

My mum has passed away on 30 November 2007. I think she died from pneumonia. Her left lung was totally white. She had yellow sticky phlegm but she had no strength to cough them out. Her white blood count was very high and neutrophil count was over 94%.

My mum only managed to take the herbs and capsule A+B for a few days before she could became unable to swallow anything, including drinks. She deteriorated very, very fast. I didn’t notice that she had any lung problems before visiting you, hence I didn’t get the Lung Phlegm tea for her.

On the evening of 26 November 2007, we managed to get a doctor to make a home visit. He said that my mum’s left lung was hardly functioning and she was dehydrated. He suggested giving her oxygen and dripped her with dextran saline. My mum shook her head when I asked her whether she wanted to go to the hospital. The next day, we rented an oxygen tank and set up drips for her by a nurse at home. The nurse pointed out that my mum was having lots of phlegm and since she couldn’t cough it out, she might be at a risk of getting pneumonia.

On 28 November 2007, she was not improving at all and I asked her again trying to convince her to go to the hospital to solve the phlegm and constipation problems. She finally nodded her head. So we immediately arranged for an ambulance to send her to the hospital which is about 5 to 10 minutes away from our house.

An X-ray film showed that her left lung was totally white. Her heart was shifted to the right, probably due to the fluid in the lung. She had high blood pressure and her heart rate was over 130/min. On the evening of the second day, she became unconscious. The doctors told us that they wouldn’t do resuscitation because it would only prolong her suffering. On the night of the third day we lost her, while all the family members gathered around her. Although we were really sad, we were also glad that she didn’t suffer much from pain.

I really want to say thanks to you and your wife again, for your kindness and hospitality and of course your herbs. It’s too late for my mum to take your herbs. However, it is never too late to know you and CA Care Therapy.

Comments

Dr. Mark had written a detailed account of about his mother’s case – thanks to his training as a observant scientist. I have the privilege of meeting Dr. Mark when he came to see us with his mother’s medical report on 20 November 2007. What struck me most about this case was that CA 15.3 was used to monitor the progress of lung cancer. I asked him if this is a typing error in his e-mail. Shockingly the answer was no.

Initially on 24 April 2007, the doctors used a few markers such as CEA = 462.9; CA 125 = 324; CA 15.3 = 5147; and CA 19.9 = 14. Among them CA 15.3 turned out to give the highest reading. That being so the doctor decided that CA 15.3 could best reflect the treatment progress. Conventionally CA 15-3 is used mainly to monitor patients with breast cancer.

One notorious side effect of Iressa is pulmonary (lung) toxicity. Patients taking Iressa have been reported to suffer from a complex disease known as interstitial lung disease (ILD). This disease causes difficulty in breathing with or without coughs or low-grade fever. The symptoms become severe rapidly and patients have to be hospitalized. The New Straits Times of 6 December 2002 had this heading: 81 deaths linked to lung cancer drug. The Japan’s Health Ministry confirmed 291 cases of debilitating side effects and 81 patients died due to Iressa. On 19 September 2005, Japan Today,had this heading: Miracle cancer drug turns into deadly remedy: The drug produced serious side effects such as severe pneumonia, resulting in death.  

Recall what Dr. Mark said: She deteriorated very, very fast. I didn’t notice that she had any lung problems before visiting you. Was Dr. Mark’s mother another victim of the fatal side effect of Iressa? No one asked. No one dared to ask? Or no one wanted to know?

We felt sorry that the herbs were unable to help in this case. This is what we often tell our patients. It is not how long we live – it is the quality of life that we live while still alive that matters. Be happy and grateful if we can eat, can sleep, and can move around. To fight cancer and destroy it totally is an impossible task no matter what others may want us to believe. 

The initial drop in the tumour maker and the shrinkage of tumour are meaningless as this case had demonstrated. Don’t be misled by such an illusion. In fact, this is not an isolated case. We have encountered and documented many other cases like this, which delivers the same message of misguided and misplaced hope.

You may wish to read our other articles (The Meaningless Shrinkage of Tumor While on Tarceva Treatment, Even High-tech Treatments Do Not Guarantee That Cancer Can Be Cured or Will Not Spread) about Iressa, Tarceva and Bonefos and what they can do for cancer patients.

Meaningless Shrinking of Tumor While on Tarceva

Mark (not real name) is a 34-year old male. Sometime in September 2006 he had coughs which led to the diagnosis of lung cancer. A CT scan on 18 December 2006 showed a 5 x 5 cm mass at the right upper lobe of this lung. The right lung also had fluid (pleural effusion). In addition, there were several metastatic lesions in the partially collapsed right mid and lower lobes of the lung. The left lung was clear. Unfortunately the cancer had already spread to the fourth and sixth ribs. A core biopsy of the lung mass indicated a moderately differentiated papillary adenocarcinoma. 

Chemotherapy Failed

From December 2006 to February 2007, Mark underwent chemotherapy with Gemzar and cisplatin. Two cycles were given each month and he received a total of six cycles. The cost of each cycle was around RM 4,000. The oncologist told him that there would be no cure but the size of the tumor could be reduced by the treatment.

After the chemotherapy was completed, a CT scan on 7 March 2007 showed right lung severely collapsed with a mass lesion measuring 6 cm over the hilum. Mark had to undergo a procedure to re-inflate his lung.

Oral Drug Tarceva

Mark was told that chemotherapy was not effective. He was asked to take the oral drug, Tarceva which cost RM 270 / pill. The progress of the treatment responses are as follows:

1.  CT scan on 9 March 2007 showed a 7.5 cm x 6 cm mass and a daughter nodule measuring 4.5 cm x 3.5 cm.

2.  CT scan on 31 May 2007 showed a mass measuring 4 cm x 2 cm, a significant reduction in size of the right lung mass. 

3.  CT scan on 13 September 2007 showed no significant change compared to the previous CXR. 

4.  CT scan on 13 November 2007 showed a larger mass measuring 8 x 6 x 4 cm. There was fibrosis in the right apex and the right lung base. There was destruction of one of the lower left rib suggestive of bony metastasis.

While on Tarceva, Mark was told that initially the tumour had shrunk to about eighty percent of its initial size. Unfortunately this shrinkage did not last. After eight months of Tarceva (costing him approximately RM 64,000) it was clear that the treatment had failed.

Mark was told the disappointing news that the tumour had grown bigger again. Tarceva was not effective.

Bony Metastasis – Bonefos

In addition, the bony metastasis got worse. Mark was on Bonefos since his diagnosis and this medication cost about RM 400 per month.

Mark and his wife came to see us on December 2007. They wanted to know if by taking the herbs the tumour would shrink and how long would it take for the herbs to be able to do this. Honestly and frankly my respond was: I am sorry I don’t know. 

Comments

Mark and his wife came to us to seek an assurance that herbs can help him. We have lung cancer patients who were told by their doctors that they only had six months to live, but after taking the herbs they went on to lead a normal life for another two to three years before they eventually succumb to the cancer.

A man with bone cancer was told: Go home and prepare your will. You only have six months to live. He declined Bonefos medication, took herbs and is still alive to this day – almost seven years now. However, it is absolutely wrong on our part to claim that herbs can cure cancer. Unfortunately when Mark came to see us, I was unable to provide him the guarantee that herbs can cure anything if that was what he and his wife came to see me for. I told them, we could only do our best to help.

I am reminded by what Randall Fitzgerald said (in The Hundred Years Lie):

  • For many people who grew by and dependent on technology and the laboratory drugs of Western medicine, breaking free of that paradigm or even considering the use of strange-sounding treatments from other cultures, requires a leap of faith.  
  • For many of us, before we can discover natural healing alternatives, we must first experience the desperation of having exhausted the entire range of synthetic chemical remedies offered by modern medicine. 

However, for some people even the experience of failure does not bring any message. The sad truth about advanced stage lung cancer is that there is no cure for it – not even with chemotherapy or Tarceva.

Stephen Spiro and Joanna Porter in an article: Lung cancer– where are we today? (American J. Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 166:1166-1196, 2000), wrote that although chemotherapy may be a logical approach, there is virtually no evidence that it can cure NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer).

Ronald Feld et al. (in Lung. Clinical Oncology. 2nd ed. Harcourt Asia) summed up the present scenario: Despite this large patient base for clinical trials, the role of systemic chemotherapy in the management of NSCLC remains one of the most controversial issues in medical oncology today.

Dr. Jeffrey Tobias and Kay Eaton (in Living with Cancer) were more explicit when they wrote

  • For patients with NSCLC …(treatment) in truth is likely to be more valuable for palliation of symptoms rather than a treatment with a real prospect of cure… a cure couldn’t realistically be attempted.
  • the early dramatic  response to chemotherapy is rarely beyond a year or two … perhaps six months later (there is) clear evidence of the return of the cancer. 

What is Bonefos?

Bonefos is used in some cancers to reduce bone destruction that could result in bone pain and fractures. Its chemical name is Clodronate disodium belonging to a class of drugs called bisphosphonates. It stops the calcium from coming out of the bone which makes it weaker and hence increasing the risk of fractures and pain besides increasing calcium blood levels.  Nowhere is it stated that it cures bone cancer. And in this case, Bonefos was not effective. 

What is Tarceva?

Go into the website and find some hard truth about this oral drug. According to the earalier company’s website,  (http://www.tarceva.net/survivalresults.aspx), Tarceva is the first and only oral HER1/EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor proven to significantly prolong survival. It significantly increased overall survival by 37% and demonstrated significant symptom benefits by prolonging the time to progression of symptoms.

This write-up is very impressive. But as always, let me caution patients to read information using some common sense. Ask what does increased survival by 37%  means in real term? The data presented by the company are as below:

  1. Median survival was 9.5 months with Tarceva versus 6.7 months with placebo.  In real terms Tarceva only increased survival by 2.8 months. Mathematically it is very correct to say that the increased survival due to Tarceva is 41.8%. Definitely 41.8% increased survival sounds very attractive indeed.
  2. Tarceva significantly prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) by 82%. The actual figures are: PFS 3.6 months with Tarceva versus 1.8 months with placebo.

Nowhere in the medical literature is there a claim that Tarceva cures lung cancer! Patients need to decide if it is worth spending RM 8,000 each month on medication that was shown to only prolong life by 2.8 months. In this case, Mark had already spent RM 64,000, and found out that Tarceva had failed him.

Lung-Brain Cancer: An Impossible Healing Part 3: Reflection and Confession of a Husband

When a lawyer makes a mistake, he loses his case in court; When an engineer makes a mistake, the building collapses; But when a doctor makes a mistake, it gets buried in his patient’s grave  ~ A Cancer Patient

Acknowledgment:  We thank the patient and her family for sharing this bitter-sweet story with us. Permission to use these video clips without having to cover their faces is granted by the patient’s husband.

While Suri was undergoing the e-Therapy at our centre in Penang, we took the opportunity to interview her husband. This is an opportunity to get to know in greater detail about what had really happened.  Below are excerpts of our conversation over a period of three days – 30th and 31st August and 1 September 2011.

 

 

1.       The Surrender and Started on Sutent 

  • Actually her problem was detected in 2007. Examination showed a small dot in her lung. She refused to do anything about it. In 2008, while on a holiday trip to China with some friends, she became breathless and vomited. On her return from China she went to Singapore for consultation. Scan showed a large tumour in her lung – probably Stage 3A.
  • She underwent medical treatment for her lung cancer. Unfortunately her health deteriorated. Sometime in February 2011 she complained of poor vision. The eye specialist told her this could be due to cataract. But suddenly she developed severe headaches.
  •  When was she not able to walk? You came to see us in May 2011. About three months before our first visit here. Suddenly her condition just “drop” severely accompanied with severe headache. So when she came here she was not able to walk, her vision was poor – unable to recognize people around her, her left hand and right leg had no strength. Before that she was okay.
  • We brought her to Singapore to do chemotherapy. After the chemo, her condition “dropped” further. We brought her back to Jakarta and did another cycle of chemo.
  •  After that we brought her back to Singapore again to do more chemo. But “someone” up there seems to intervene. She did not have enough white blood cells. So the oncologist could not give her anymore chemo.
  • If her WBC was okay, would you have done the chemo?  We would. I fully believe in the doctor. Daughter: But I never agree to chemotherapy since the very beginning.
  • Daughter: The oncologist surrendered … she gave up. She suggested taking Sutent saying that many of her patients were cured after taking this drug. The doctor told me, “Bring this medication (Sutent) home and try it.”
  • A table of Sutent cost S$210. She took a tablet a day. She had more pains after taking the Sutent. The side effects for her were:  increased blood pressure, headaches and diabetes.  I asked the doctor why she prescribed this drug to her. The oncologist replied, “Many of my patients took it and get well. Go home and try it. If it works it works. If not she just … (gesture with his bent finger).
  • Before she took Sutent, did you not ask if the drug can cure her? No one dares to answer such a question. The oncologist told me, “I cannot say. The only one who knows the answer is the one up there!”
  • After she took Sutent her consumption of Panadol gradually increased from one tablet per day to six tablets per day.

 

 

2.       I regretted – Money Does Not Buy Cure 

  • For all the treatments – radiotherapy, Iressa, Tarceva, chemotherapy and Sutent – the total cost came to more or less 2 milyar rupiah (1 milyar is 1,000,000,000 – nine zeros) which is about S$300,000. The cost of one tablet of Tarceva is S$195 and she took this for about 2 years. One tablet of Sutent cost S$210 and she took this for a month plus. One chemo cost about S$7,000. I was curious about one expenditure item of S$120.00. After an enquiry I was told that it was the cost of the chair (plus services provided) which my wife sat on while receiving chemotherapy. The doctor’s consultation cost S$150.00, if I am not mistaken. I was also told to only buy the drugs from the doctor. I was told that cheaper drugs bought outside the oncologist’s clinic could be a fake. I believed everything what the doctor told me.
  • It is okay to spend that kind of money if there was a cure. But there was no cure. I regretted for going to Singapore for the treatment.
  • Let me confess. I was full of remorse. I regretted because even before she went for chemo, my relative in Penang had suggested that we try the herbs. I refused to entertain that idea. In my mind, that is all hocus pocus. How can herbs be better than the doctors in Singapore? Herbs are just traditional stuff and if they are that good then all doctors will have to close shop. So I dismissed the idea of taking herbs as being absolutely nonsensical.  I say again, I regretted this very much.
  • The doctors told her to eat anything – to make her stronger. And when she regained her strength, she got “hammered” with the chemo again. The cycle went on and one. Where do we go from there? On reflection, I begun to see how illogical it is.
  • While we were in the hospital in Singapore, I saw a patient from Medan. This patient had been going in and out for the past eight years – coming for chemo and chemo. There was no end to it. I was afraid to ask the details of what had really happened. Anyway the patient eventually died after eight years of struggle. It struck me – this is a prolongation of a meaningless survival.

 

 

3. CA Care, the Last Hope

  • In low voice, Suri’s husband said, “Actually my wife requested that I leave her to die. She did not want to suffer any more.” At that point, a distant relative in Penang called us and suggested that we try CA Care. I had a discussion with my children. We shall abandon further medical treatment and go for herbs. At that time we were hoping for pain relief. We would accept if she dies but not to be in pain.
  • When you first came to CA Care, did you ever believe in what we do? I made it very clear to you from the very beginning that I cannot cure you. What you told me that night was most sensible. Stop taking all the bad food that encourage cancer and then use the herbs to help the body against cancer. This makes a lot of sense to me. 
  • We gave her the herbs for a week. She spat it all out onto our face. My relative talked and joked with her. When she was more relaxed we held her down, squeezed her nose and forced the herbs into her throat. After three days of doing that, there were less headaches. We had more confidence in your herbs.
  • She has been on the herbs for 4 months now, have you got anything to say about that? I would like to say thank you so much for helping us. I don’t know what to say. We have been doing this therapy everyday and you didn’t even charge us (broke down and cried). If you want me to worship you, I would do that.

To this Chris replied, Don’t worship me.  Worship God and give thanks to Him. It is not me who do all these. I was just doing my best to help. My two children are doing well with their Ph.D.s. What we are doing here is not about money. In life money is not all important.

  • It is hard to do “good” for others. If you have not experienced what it is like to get cancer, you cannot understand what we are doing and why we are doing this work. 

I understand. I have gone through this suffering for two and half years now. I know what you mean. That is why I am spreading words around about my wife. Many people saw my wife’s improvement.

  • My job is now done. I have nothing else to offer. Now it is your turn to take care and heal her. Never, never ever make any mistake again. Second, take care of her diet well.

Comments

It is not necessary for me to add any more comment. The story and the videos should convey enough messages.

We recognize that the work at CA Care is at odd with current medical thinking. Modern medicine wants to kill or shrink the tumour. And in the process kill the patients too. In The War on Cancer – an anatomy of failure; Dr.  Guy Faguet , a cancer researcher and medical doctor, wrote, “An objective analysis of cancer chemotherapy outcomes over the last three decades reveals that … the cell-killing paradigm has failed to achieve its objective … a model based on flawed premises with unattainable goal, cytotoxic chemotherapy in its present form will neither eradicate cancer nor alleviate suffering” (pg.89).

Dr. Ralph Moss, Ph.D., a highly respected advocate of non-conventional cancer treatment, said, “  If you shrink the tumour by 50% or more for 28 days you got the FDA’s definition of an active drug …. (but) when you see if there is any life prolongation from taking this treatment what you find is all kinds of hocus pocus … this is the great lie about chemotherapy.”

At CA Care we teach patients to live with their cancers. Concentrate on what matters. We don’t know how to cure your cancer and we don’t pretend we can cure your cancer either. But like in this case, we know how to make your life better – if you can eat, sleep,  walk, have no pains and can have a bit longer of meaningful life– what else do you want? Now, we say – Patients, you have a choice! Whatever you choose, is your prerogative. But it is you, and I emphasize –  you and you alone, who are responsible for that choice.

 

Read the full story …

Part 1: Hope after a disaster

Part 2: A week of amazing healing

Part 3: Reflection and confession of a husband

Part 4: What it takes to be a winner