Loosing the Breast Cancer War Part 3
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1.2 million people were diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide in 2005. In the United States, it is said that every two minutes one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2005, it was estimated that there were 212,0000 new cases of breast cancer and out of which 40,000 or about 19%, died from the disease. In the city-state of Singapore, it is said that every day three women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. In Malaysia 3,738 breast cancer cases were reported in 2003. This means that one in twenty women in Malaysia will get breast cancer.
Despite extensive research, the exact cause of breast cancer is not known. Medicine has all along been about treating breast cancer, not about preventing it. Most often, women with breast cancer are subjected to a “package” of standard treatments – surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapy. The most important question that patients ask after undergoing all these treatments is: “Am I cured? Or, is there truly a cure for breast cancer?”
According to Silvia Dellapasqua et al. (in: J. Clinical Oncol. 23:1736-1749) the “prognosis of breast cancer in young women is generally considered to be unfavourable. Young pre-menopausal breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant CMF chemotherapy had higher risk of relapse and death than older pre-menopausal patients.” Martin Piccart-Gebhart (in J. Clinical Oncol. 23:1611-1613) wrote: “Chemotherapy has long been considered our most efficient weapon in the fight against breast cancer … where this dream, unfortunately, did not materialize.”
One sad example of such crashed dream was a case of Mei (not real name), a 34-year old female nurse. Mei was diagnosed with carcinoma of the right breast. She underwent a right mastectomy and axillary clearance in August 2003. This was followed by six cycles of chemotherapy using FAC (5-FU, andriamycin and cyclophosphamide). From 1 March to 19 March 2004, Mei received radiotherapy on her right chest wall. When the treatments were completed,she was started on tamoxifen.
Barely eight months after the completion of her treatments, in November 2004, Mei had a 3 x 3 cm soft tissue mass associated with bony destruction in her sternum. In addition, there were multiple nodules scattered in both her lungs. Sadly, the cancer recurred and spread within this short period of time.
Mei underwent chemotherapy again, using Taxol. After five cycles, the use of Taxol was terminated because it was not effective resulting in disease progression. The lymph nodes in her right collarbone seemed to have been infected. Mei was given another round of chemotherapy using Navelbine. But unfortunately after the first treatment, this chemotherapy was abandoned due to severe side effects.
In April 2005, Mei was given an oral drug Arimidex (anastrozole). From 25 May to 31 May 2005, she was on radiotherapy again, as the sternal mass was increasing in size. In spite of this treatment, the swelling of the right collarbone grew bigger. The use of Arimidex was discontinued and was replaced with Xeloda.
Mei decided to stop further chemotherapy. On 23 June 2005, she developed right pleural effusion (fluid in the lung). The doctor tapped out 5.5 liters of fluid from her lung and she felt better. On 23 July 2005, I received a fax asking for help. Unfortunately, Mei died a month later — much too late to help her in any way.
According to Mei’s sister, upon diagnosis of breast cancer, Mei’s boss, who is a doctor, handed her my book (Cancer Yet They Live) and said: “Read this, and if you believe in what the author said, go and see him. But don’t tell people that I give you this book.” Mei was a nurse. Her training had placed her in a “box” with a fixed mindset that only modern medicine has all the answers to cancer. To her the only right way is surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and follow-up drugs. Other ways are hocus pocus.
Loosing the Breast Cancer War Part 3