April 11, 2008

Your life, your choice

When you hear that someone close to you has been diagnosed with cancer, your heart surely skips a beat. There had to be some mistake. Perhaps this was just an awful nightmare. That just doesn’t happen, etc. As you may remember from previous post, my good friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (ovca) two months ago. She had both her ovaries with a large cyst that was indicated of being cancerous, a 10cm umbilicus and an omentum (fatty tissue) removed. She was advised by her oncologist that she should take 6 cycles of chemo, but has refused this treatment.

She has a lot of reasons for refusing this treatment, she knew how harmful it could be, not to mention the amount of money she has to spend for the chemo which is quite expensive. In Indonesia a lot of people do not have health insurance and many of them go through a time in life when money is so tight they cannot afford medical care.

When caught at earliest stage, ovarian cancer has a good prognosis. At Stage I, ovca has a five-year survival rate of around 90%. My friend was told she had Stage 3 ovca and her probability of survival with chemotherapy treatment was 1-5 years. Having a later stage cancer is like seeing a horror movie. Except the horror is real and there's no escape. Ovarian Cancer can strike at any age, and has the highest mortality rate of all women's cancers. Some risk factors are family history of breast (my friend had a tumor surgery when she was 16), never being pregnant, history of infertility, early menstruation and late menopause. Signs and symptoms can be read here.

I strongly recommended my friend to find an alternative treatment practitioner / herbalist to work with since she had been resistant to the idea of taking a chemo, even though her onco was advising her to. I am a bit worry because her recovery has been rather slow. She was still draining puss from a surgical wound the surgeon cut in her belly even 4 weeks after her surgery! She can barely stand for any length of time. She also lost 8 kg (16 lbs) and hasn't gained much weight since. Another problem is her family also plays an important part on every decision she wants to make. They decided to wait until she gets better and seek for an alternative treatment in May or 3 months post her surgery. If she followed her doctor advice, she should already has 2 cycles of chemo by now. I was really worried that taking a couple months off might allow the cancer cells to start growing again. The problem is, no one knows what's going to happen when you take a break. Will the cancer grow? Will it stay the same? No one has those answers.

So, last night I spoke to her on the phone and informed her about a herbal doctor in Jakarta that I found from googling in the internet. To my surprise she agreed to see this doctor and will come to Jakarta on Monday. I do understand there is no guarantee that alternative treatment will succeed to cure her problem, but this is a tough disease and you need to give yourself every possible advantage at fighting it. I sincerely hope everything goes well and she gets through this.

Ladies, it is important that we be made aware of the risks and symptoms of ovca. Either read about it or look on the web. If you think you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms and are at high risk for ovarian cancer, it is important to seek medical help. Do not wait until it is too late.

**Picture of cancer teddy courtesy of Lindasbearhugs.**

1 comment:

anna madden said...

Let's pray for your friend. May God bless her!