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ST Forum

ST Forum
Sep 14, 2007 Friday
Beware cancer 'entrepreneurs' and their 'magic bullets'

IT WAS reported in Lianhe Zaobao (Sept 6) that a Taiwanese 'detoxification guru' was sentenced to seven years' jail after being sued by a breast-cancer patient.

In this case, the patient thought that she found the magic cure after reading a book written by the accused. She opted out from mainstream treatment and embarked on the healing programme recommended by the accused. She paid a handsome sum for the health supplements, and gave testimonies on TV programmes and publicity materials.

Two years later, in 2006, her medical examination showed that her cancer cells have spread to her lymph nodes.

In 2003, many local cancer patients came to know of this healing programme because the accused gave talks in Singapore. Some patients shared with me about it, and I recalled one happy patient who claimed that her cancer 'disappeared' after embarking on the programme. She opted out of radiation therapy. As I have lost contact with her, I am not sure if she has suffered a relapse.

In April 2007, I attended a cancer talk and noticed that the speaker presented a 'negative picture' of chemotherapy. Being an advocate for comprehensive cancer care, I felt uneasy with his talk. To me, complementary treatment is a safer bet for early stage cancer which is treatable by conventional treatment.

People having rare cancers are still unable to get the best cancer care from Western medicine. When these cancer patients decided to give up on mainstream treatment and opt for alternative treatment, their decisions are often seen as risky and irrational.

Doctors often warned patients not to 'waste' money on alternative treatment. Sadly many people have also spent a large amount of money on Western medicine and yet they cannot be 'saved'. Quite often, other people will also make similar comments - why 'waste' money on palliative care?

I urge patients with rare cancers and late-stage cancers to face the hard reality and accept the limitation of medical science, and move on to do their own research on their particular type of cancer. If alternative treatment can provide you with a second chance at living life within your means, give it serious thought.

Cancer patients and their families must exercise their judgment carefully before buying the 'magic cure'.

I implore cancer 'entrepreneurs' to search their souls and conscience when making money from cancer patients. Ill-gotten wealth will repay its own debts. We must always make a decent living, and be truthful and kind to our fellowmen.

Lee Soh Hong (Miss)

Founder, Cancerstory.com



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