At St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou, there is a slim woman who has a big belly, making her look like 5 months pregnant. She is funny and knows about traditional Chinese medicine. When she meets others, she always says, “Liver has close relationship with gallbladder. And lung is connected with heart. My liver has tumor, so ‘my gallbladder is broken’ (I’m frightened). And my lung has tumor also, so my heart is hurt.” She is Ms. Guo who is a triple-negative breast cancer fighting against cancer for 15 years.
“In breast cancer types, triple negative breast cancer is so difficult to treat. Generally, those who are diagnosed with this kind of cancer will not live for more than 5 years. But she has lived with cancer for 15 years. What a miracle in the field of cancer it is!” Doctors from St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital who just knew about Ms Guo’s condition indicated that with shock.
Ms. Guo comes from Singapore. She is so positive and tough. When hearing about her condition, many people are surprised at how she battled against cancer for these 15 years. As for it, Ms. Guo said, “It is not a big deal. Cancer is just like a Child. When it is obedient, I play with it. But when it is naughty, I will ask help from hospital to scare it.”
First Diagnosis with Cancer
In 2001, Ms. Guo gave birth to her second child. As an engineer, Ms. Guo worked harder to give better life for her Children than before. However, more than 3 months after her child was born, Ms. Guo faced with a devil.
In May 2011, Ms. Guo detected a hard lump in her right breast with the size of 4cm big. And then she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer stage 2. To concern about her little baby, Ms. Guo didn’t spend much time to be sad but followed the advice from Singaporean doctor, surgery and oral hormonal therapy for 5 years. According to oncologist from St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou, triple negative breast cancer is aggressive with poor prognosis and is easy to get local recurrence and distant metastasis.
Cancer Recurred for Many Times
Really cancer came back with metastasis. Ms. Guo said, “In my regular following-up, doctor found out a small tumor about 0.8 cm big in my right breast. Besides, there was another one about 5 cm in my liver.” She took surgery again to remove the tumor in right breast and remove a part of her liver. After surgery, Ms. Guo got recovery and was devoted into normal work and life again.
Ms. Guo thought that it was the end of cancer, but cancer recurred again twice. She said, “The tumor in my liver grew to 4 cm big once, and then 12 cm, the biggest.” Doctor recommended her chemotherapy again, but she refused. She said, “In the last time of chemotherapy, tumor didn’t shrunk even by 1cm. I didn’t want to take chemotherapy anymore.” So she decided to seek other therapies.
Go Abroad for Comprehensive Treatment
According to my Malaysian friends, China has more advanced cancer treatment. Ms. Guo was admitted to St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou (MCHG) soon. In her first visit, her liver tumor grew to 14cm with pain, and her belly was big. Through further check-up in MCHG, Ms. Guo was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer with metastasis to liver and lung.
2 days later, with advice from multidisciplinary team (MDT), Ms. Guo received cryotherapy and interventional therapy. Compared with Singapore hospitals which only have traditional therapy, Ms. Guo indicated, “Here, there are many treatments to choose, such as nanoknife, interventional therapy, cryotherapy, etc. They are topical therapy, targeting to the tumor precisely, so side effects are few.” 2 months after treatments, Ms. Guo went for follow-up. CT scan showed that her tumor shrunk by 2 cm obviously. She said, “After every time of treatment, my tumor almost shrunk for 2-3 cm.” So far, Ms. Guo has taken 5 times of cryotherapy, 3 times of microwave ablation and 8 times of intervention therapy. She is in stable condition now.
For normal people, 15 years flew by easily. But for a cancer patient, it’s a long nightmare. So, how did Ms. Guo went through these 15 years? She said, “It’s not a big deal. On the one side, my children are too young. One is 19 years old; the other is 15 years old now. I don’t want them to lose mother. On the other side, positive attitude is also very important. In the past 15 years, I treated myself as a normal person without any worries for disease. I have the normal life as before.”
It was said that Ms. Guo was very strong. She would keep attending various social activities including going shopping, singing and dancing, etc, even she felt physically uncomfortable. Ms. Guo said, “I still remember my experience that I took part in one cooking competition. My back was in serious pain, but I swallowed the pain to finish the competition because I made promise to my friend and I must keep it.” Ms. Guo has broad interests, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Japanese, drawing, etc. When talking about why she loves TCM, she said, “It is because my arthralgia was cured by TCM. I believed in TCM.”
Triple-negative breast cancer means that breast cancer cells are tested negative for estrogen receptors (ER-), progesterone receptors (PR-), and HER2 (HER2-). This kind of breast cancer is more common in young patients with poor prognosis. 5-year survival rate is less than 15%. With Ms. Guo’s case, oncologist from St. Stamford Modern Cancer Hospital Guangzhou gives some advice to cancer patients: firstly, cancer patients can live well with cancer; secondly, triple-negative breast cancer patients should not give up and keep faith to take suitable treatments; additionally, common breast cancer 5-year survival rate is higher than 50% at present, so breast cancer patients should take chance to get good treatment effect. (Attention: We respect the patient’s requirement and privacy, so this patient’s photos and name are not included here.)