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  • Writer's pictureAndre Shih

Liver and Lung Cancer Patient Survived 2 Years of Chemotherapy

A male patient, let's call him J, between 45 and 50 year old who came in looking for relief of the side effects from chemotherapy. J had colon cancer 3 years ago and went through surgery and chemotherapy. A year later, the doctor discovered that cancer cell had spread to his liver, and now the lung as well. He has been doing chemotherapy every other week for the past 2 years.

J did not look like a cancer patient at all. He looked just like any healthy person on the street. His health condition is almost as good as you and I, or even better than some of us. The only complains for him was that the reduction of the sexual function, defication 4 times a day, and mild pain around his liver area. However, after each chemotherapy, J would become very weak with a lot of discomfort: headache, stomachache, lost of appetite, bloatedness, insomnia, and etc. It would take him 4 to 5 days to recover from it until the next time.

When I first saw J, it was just 2 days before his next scheduled chemo. I treated him 2 days in a row. The 3rd time he came, J told me that he could feel the difference. He had less discomfort, energy was better, slept better, and recovered a bit faster. Every other weeks, he would come in for 2 treatments in a row.

We chat a lot during each treatment. J was really afraid of dying. I've been educating him that based on TCM diagnosis, he was considered pretty healthy, especially when he was off chemo. Chemotherapy is exactly fighting fire with fire. It is like dropping a nuclear bomb each time wiping out everything and hoping that you could to rebuild. If you can't rebuild, you die.

J understood all that and acknowledged that he felt weaker after each chemo. However, he is obsessed with a number - the cancer index - because the oncologist told J if the number is under 5, he wouldn't have to worry about cancer any more. So he's been very keen on reducing the number. After about 4 weeks of acupuncture treatments, the number went down at first but went back up again, but the size of tumours did not change. J felt the chemo wasn't working and decided that he didn't want to have chemo anymore. He wanted a surgery instead. His oncologist refused and told J to keep on doing the chemo because the risk of the surgery is not worth the reward. In the end, the oncologist told J if the lung tumours were gone, then he would perform the liver surgery on J. I intuition told me that's an excuse for J to not perform the surgery. Little did he know, J was well connected in China and Hong Kong. A few weeks ago, J went to China because he found a top lung surgeon in Hong Kong. He was willing to see J and hopefully to perform the lung surgery. J said he would be back in March to continue our treatments.

I've heard many stories where the patient couldn't get a surgery in N. America and ended up getting one in Asia. But in these stories, the patient never made it through the surgery. Now I understand there is a reason that doctors here don't recommend or refuse to perform a surgery. I wish J luck and hope to see him again in March.

On a side note, in the beginning of the 2 years of chemo, his cancer index was down to where he didn't need to have chemo anymore. But his wife went away for a month, he started staying up late and not going to bed before 11:00pm. That made the liver cancer more active, and it's the sole reason J had to start continuous chemo again.

It's very common to have cancer cell migrate to liver or lung after the colon cancer surgery. In TCM, lung and large intestine shares a interior/exterior relationship just like your palm and the back of the hand. In biomedicine, liver and large intestine are connected through the hepatic vein. So you are very lucky if colon cancer doesn't spread to live or lung. Cancer isn't cured by the surgery alone. Imagine if your neighbour's fruit tree has grown over your fence and the fruits are all rotten and smelly. Do you think cutting off the fruits will solve anything? In TCM, liver is the deepest organ in our body and colon is a more superficial organ. So liver cancer is much more difficult to treat than colon cancer, and it's often in the hands of God.

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