Cancer and Immunotherapy

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You don’t need cancer to be affected by cancer. 
You can have cancer and not look like you have cancer.

It is a yoyo feeling when you see friends or loved ones battle cancer. Some win the battle, some lose it. And having been a caregiver the last few years makes cancer a pet topic and ongoing concern for me.

The recent weekend saw me attending MSD Blogger’s Workshop on the issue of cancer awareness. We heard from Dr Tho who is an oncologist. Niki Cheong too shared his stories with cancer but not as a cancer patient - he spoke of his accounts of what he thought was cancer and family members who had cancer. Thus, he said “You don’t need cancer to be affected by cancer. You can have cancer and not look like you have cancer.”

Scary stats but heck, I just have to share it:
• 14.1 million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year
• Cancer incidences is almost 25% higher in men than women worldwide
• 10 Malaysians die of lung cancer daily
• 9 out of 10 lung cancer patients are diagnosed in an advanced stage of III and IV (and these will only show in cancer marker test at this stage)
• Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and in Malaysia 62.5% of melanoma cases are detected only at Stage III
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Precautions can be taken to minimise one’s chance of cancer. Eat right (some traditional Chinese medicine or TCM products are known to be carcinogenic), don’t smoke, stay away from second hand smoke but for some, it is genetic whereby they possess some genes that make them more likely to develop a cancer.

And when one is confronted with cancer either as a patient or even as a caregiver, I think one too needs to know the treatment options available. While the stats are frightening, it is a relief knowing that beyond surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, there is something called immunotherapy that brings about a higher percentage of success. This treatment is also easier on the patients, providing better quality of life, albeit stretched over a longer period of time.  
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Survival rate with immunotherapy

At the current moment in Malaysia, immunotherapy has only been approved for lung cancer and melanoma. Hopefully, we see it approved for more types of cancer in the near future. 

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses one’s body's own immune system to help fight cancer. The immune system is stimulated to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells. For some, immunotherapy will boost the body’s immune system in a very general way. Others help train the immune system to attack cancer cells specifically.
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While I do not know anyone personally who has tried immunotherapy, I read and know that Kim’s old classmate is undergoing immunotherapy. This treatment is the only one that is working on her and will take approximately 2 years. While her insurance quota is almost exhausted (she was diagnosed with lung cancer, went cancer free for 6 months after chemotherapy and now found out that the cancer has metastasised to her brains), I urge that you could donate or help spread the word so that this single mother can continue her treatment and build a life with her 4-year-old son. (accepts donations in MYR and other Asian currencies)
Maybank 512044534207
Sharizan binti Mohd Salleh

All is not lost with cancer. It is not an easy battle and not a battle for one person. A positive attitude, knowing the treatment options and all makes it easier. Jiayou 加油 Sharizan. 
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