By Walter Ang
July 14, 2009
A retired engineering director for shipping company American President Lines, Nestor had been living in San Francisco, California for close to forty years with his wife Hermie when he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in 2007.
He underwent a series of treatments but all to no avail. In 2008, his brother Domingo learned of Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou, China (just across Hong Kong) which specializes in cancer treatment using modern methods. The hospital has a track record of 70% survival rate for patients with terminal cancer.
Nestor's seven siblings and a host of nephews, nieces and grandchildren encouraged him to go. For them, it made sense for him to go to Fuda Hospital since all the doctors in the US had told Nestor that his only option was to undergo conventional radiation and chemotherapy with just a 5% survival rate.
"I refused to go," says Nestor. "I had negative assumptions about China. How can China have better technology than the US when the US spends millions of dollars each year on cancer research and development?"
By late 2008, Nestor started turning into a recluse. "I was depressed, anxious and paranoid. I didn't have the energy and frame of mind to watch TV, listen to the radio, read newspapers or answer phone calls and emails. I dismissed visitors. I had no appetite and couldn't sleep. I had severe leg pain and stayed in bed almost all day with my eyes closed most of the time. I had lost hope, I had stopped praying," he says.
In early 2009, the cancer spread to his bones and caused a hip fracture. "By then, I was left with no choice. After eight months of begging by my family, I finally relented and went to Fuda Hospital," he says. Nestor arrived on May 4, 2009 and was greeted at the airport by a hospital representative. He was led to a "fully-furnished room that looked and felt like a condo unit" that was big enough to accommodate family members. "It had internet, flat-screen TV, a large bathroom, the works!" he says.
Nestor received cryotherapy where small cryoprobes are inserted in and around the tumors in his prostate through small punctures in the skin. The probes create extreme cold temperatures to kill the tumor. The dead tumor is left in place, allowing it to releases antigens that stimulate the body into creating antibodies to fight the cancer. "This method is faster, more effective, and less painful as opposed to the conventional radical surgery where the body is cut wide open to remove the tumors or, sometimes, even the entire organ involved," says Nestor.
Brachytherapy, a form of radiation treatment that uses "seeds" filled with low-dose iodine 125, was also given to Nestor. Unlike conventional radiation treatments that expose other parts of the body to radiation aside from the tumor site, brachytherapy is more specific and concentrated since the seeds are placed very close to the tumor.
To help his body regain its strength and his immune system to regain its ability to fight disease, Nestor was given immunotherapy. Usually, a patient's blood cells and stem cells (immature cells that grow into blood cells) are destroyed by anticancer drugs or radiation. This treatment takes some of the patient's own blood and cultures it to harvest stem cells. The harvested stem cells are then infused back into the patient to help increase immune function. This provides a "systemic" approach to healing the body to complement the "localized" approach of targeting the tumor.
Even though Nestor also received acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines, he says, "I realized that Fuda Hospital does not offer `alternative treatments' for cancer since most of the treatments I received were actually developed in Western countries and most of the doctors there have trained in US or European schools and are widely published in respected medical journals," he says. "I consider it as an `alternative hospital' that cancer patients can go to if their current hospitals do not offer these latest treatments."
After just a 27-day treatment plan, Nestor no longer has prostate cancer. While he continues to receive treatment for the cancer in his bones, he is happy and pain-free. "I feel very much well now and alive, ready to live a new life but with a mission to be a living testimonial to other cancer patients, especially those who have already lost hope, like I once did."
He has temporarily relocated to Manila and is keen on letting more Filipinos know about the hospital that helped him get better. "People can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they want to talk to me about my experience. They will be surprised at how low the costs of that hospital are! What's more, you only pay for treatment, they don't charge professional fees for the doctors," he says.
Nestor notes that the hospital is well-versed in treating international patients. "There were patients from Denmark, England, and Holland. It has a full-time Patient Services staff dedicated to translation, visa and embassy services, and travel services. All medical documents, prescriptions, invoices, and discharge papers are written in English," he says. "And the food actually tastes good!" he adds with a laugh.
Fuda Hospital's president, Dr. Kecheng Xu will conduct a seminar on cancer cure technologies at Vivere Hotel, Alabang on July 14, 2009, 1:30-5:00pm. Entrance is free but slots are limited, email email@example.com to confirm.
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