Hollow Prognosis – Only One Month to Live Without More Chemotherapy

Beng / t585, is a 70-year-old male. Sometime in 2006, his voice became hoarse and his speech was unclear. There was no pain. He went to a government hospital for consultation. A doctor did a biopsy. It was later confirmed that Beng had cancer of the larynx. He was referred to a private hospital for further management. Beng received thirty radiation treatments to his throat region.

All treatments were completed in February 2006. He went back to his doctor every month for a check up and was told that everything was alright. However, barely a year later – in December 2006, a tumor was found growing back at the site where the biopsy was previously done. Beng underwent five cycles of chemotherapy and this treatment made his life miserable. At one time he had to be admitted to the hospital due to lack of blood after the chemo. In all, the family spent about RM 30,000 for his treatment. Beng was scheduled for his sixth chemo cycle but was unable to proceed with it due to lack of blood.

A CT scan done on 16 January 2007 showed that Beng was not getting any better. There was a soft tissue mass over the right anterior vocal cord region that had crossed the midline. There was also an enlarged right upper cervical node, indicating spread.

A CT scan done on 1 June 2007 indicated "slight progress of the neck adenopathy." The oncologist had a discussion with Beng's family members. They were told that the five-cycle-chemo treatment received earlier was not effective. Beng had to be given a new drug regime. This would consist of twelve injections that cost about RM 42,000. The oncologist warned that without this chemotherapy Beng would only have one month to live since the cancer had already spread.

Beng declined further chemotherapy. Beng's daughter came to see us on 17 June 2007 and told us that Beng had pains in the neck area. He produced excess phlegm which made breathing difficult. Beng was prescribed Capsule A, Throat & Oesophagus tea, NPC Phlegm, Pain Tea and C-tea.

Three months on the herbs, Beng's daughter reported that the pains had lessened. There was also less phlegm. Beng was more energetic after the herbs. It was a pleasant surprise that on 27 July 2007, Beng came to talk to us. His voice was strong and clear – an improvement compared to the time before he was on herbs. However, Beng said he was bothered by two problems. One, his neck area was still painful. Two, he felt the tightness of his neck muscles. If these two problems could be resolved, then he would be happy.

A few days before his visit, Beng had a scope done by the same doctor who first treated him. The doctor told Beng that there was no tumor in his throat. Because of this, Beng was very encouraged and wanted to come and tell us this "good news" personally.

I asked Beng what was his initial expectation when he went for medical treatment. He said: "I expected to be cured. I totally believed that the chemotherapy was going to cure me." I then asked why he refused when the oncologist wanted to do the second round of chemotherapy. Beng replied: "Since it did not cure me the first round, I only half-believe him this time. On top of it all, it costs so much money – RM 42,000. So, I refused more chemotherapy. "


It is hard or unrealistic for us to say that the herbs caused the tumor to disappear from Beng's throat. No scope was done before he took the herbs. Neverheless, we are happy to witness such healing. The herbs made Beng well and he felt safe to move on. This is very important – and sometimes the only thing that matters. Going to war with the cancer is counter productive!

This story highlights the sight that beats many cancer patients. When they go to see their doctors for the first time, they are under the impression that they will be cured of their cancer. Beng sent RM 30,000 and had to end severe side effects in pursuit of this elusive cure. He did not find a cure. In fact the treatment made him worse off. When the first attempt failed, the oncologist suggested another round of more poisonous drugs and Beng is expected to put in another RM 42,000. I can not help but recall what one oncologist said: "Finding a cure (for cancer) is just like striking a jackpot." It is like pouring in money to chase after one's lucky star hoping to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Doctors are often told to lack communication skills. They do not seem to realize that what they say can adversely affect their patients. Take for example this: "If you do not do the chemo that I advised you, you only have one month to live." Do not they realize that by saying such a thing, patients may perceive it as a veiled threat, guised in the form of "expert advice"? Do not they know that there is no truth in such a statement? Do not they realize that they are not gods? I always maintain that to live or to die is God's prerogative and mortals can not predict with certainty when a patient is going to die. Telling patients that they may die soon unlashes the norcebo effects! It does more harm than good.

Beng took the herbs for more than a month now. His condition did not deteriorate. On the contrary he was well and he was getting better – not dying! Is it not shameful for the oncologist to say something that turns out to be untrue? And he considers himself an expert who practices evidence-based medicine? His prognosis of one month to live was perceived as a hollow threat, devoid of any scientific basis.

This story brings out one fact. Chemotherapy is not the only effective modality for treating cancer – in this case, laryngeal cancer. In fact the radiotherapy and chemotherapy that Beng underwent left him worse off than he was before the treatment. He had to suffer the pains and muscle tightness – probably due to the side effects of radiation. On top of it, the family was poorer by RM 30,000. This story also brings forth another point. Perhaps there is a much more humane and effective modality for treating laryngeal cancer that the medical community does not wish to know or care about, ie, by using herbs and change of diet and lifestyle.

Source by Chris Teo, Ph.D.

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