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Having been closely associated with the care of cancer patients, I do certainly know that we cure some and we lose some. There is nothing like a 100%. However, when I see patients who have undergone alternative treatments and were assured 100% cure, I can only wonder where this confidence comes from.The number of times I have seen a Stage 1 or 2 Breast cancer on alternative treatments, going on to become Stage 3 or 4 is quite substantial.Anecdotes call for applause but that is not the entire story. And that brings me to Mrs U’s story. I met U, a retired teacher, 10 years ago accompanied by her husband and her daughter, a doctor herself practising in the US. During my conversation with U, she would not make eye contact. She was angry because she did not want to come to see me and her husband and daughter had almost dragged her to the hospital. She had a lump in the left breast of 1 1/2 years duration and was on alternative medication offered by a popular seer.I examined her and was shocked to see a large mass in the left breast occupying about 3/4ths of her breast and bleeding from an ulcer on it.I advised a biopsy and U got up and walked out of my room, explicitly declining my proposition. Her daughter said she would bring her around and went after her. She returned after 4 days and got a biopsy done on her daughter’s insistence and the bleeding from the ulcer was getting her worried too.She muttered and mumbled throughout the procedure, accusing doctors of doing tests to make money and deriding alternative medicine practitioners. The biopsy confirmed cancer and her staging work up fortunately did not show cancer anywhere else in the body.She was offered chemotherapy followed by surgery, radiotherapy and hormonal treatment.Her daughter and her husband stood ground and got her through treatment. It was not an easy ride but she completed treatment. The chances that disease would come back was pegged at 50-60%. Two days ago, she came for her 10th year follow up. Her husband has been rock solid in his support for her. He has ensured she is very regular with her follow up. She continues to be disease free. However, this time was slightly different. She held my hand and apologised to me for her bad behaviour 10 years ago and was grateful for how life had panned out since. I did not know what to say. While what I offered as treatment did help her recover, her husband played an equally important role by ensuring she took her medication on time, ate well and led a healthy life. I complimented him on that and could see tears roll down his cheeks. We do what we can!Blind faith may have serious consequences. Sincerity of purpose, backed by evidence and the support of loved ones can truly move mountains!
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