I received a fax of a news report: “Widow of “Superman” actor dies of lung cancer at age 44.” On the fax is scribbled: “So much about scientific, evidence-based medicine!” The report said that the singer-actress died of lung cancer, a year and half after her “Superman” husband had died. She died at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Medical Cancer in New York — the world’s most famous cancer hospital. It was a sudden death. Officials would not discuss the treatment that she had undergone!
It is indeed sad to learn of such tragic news. But such news is nothing unusual. According to the World Health Organization, 7.1 million people died of cancer each year. That works out to 591,666 deaths each month or 19,722 deaths a day due to cancer. Every minute of the day, about 14 people die of cancer in this world. I always tell patients this: “We all have to die – irrespective of ngwhether we have cancer or not. I too, even without cancer, can die any time.” The important thing is: HOW DO WE DIE. Let us pray that while we are alive, we live a happy, pain-free life. When the time for us to go, let’s pray that we go in peace. That is all that matters.
Back to the news report: Can we learn something from it? Can we take a pause and ask: how and why did she die so suddenly? Did she die because she had undergone the so-called “unproven, unscientific” treatment for lung cancer? No. I believe she got the best — the best doctor, the best chemo-drug (if ever she had any chemotherapy) and the best of everything. There was enough of everything that matters in the attempt to save her from lu cancer. Yet, she died a sudden death.
It was said, she was tired the days before she died. Why tired? Did the cancer make her tired? Drained out all her energy? Since no one is saying anything about her treatment, we never know exactly what she had undergone. In the face of mishaps or failures, lawyers teach us: “Don’t admit anything!” Remain vague and ambiguous to get off the hook. Imagine what an “economic” disaster it would be if a drug or a procedure is named or associated with her death! So, not to reveal anything is a safe strategy. So, let the world keep guessing.
Early this year, the middle-age brother of a friend was diagnosed with lung cancer. He went to a cancer hospital. They gave him just ONE shot of chemotherapy and he died soon afterwards.
On 12 October 2006, The Star reported the death of a 44-year old Malaysian singer. She had lung cancer and “underwent three chemotherapy sessions … and was very tired and sleeping a lot.” She looked frail and exhausted and the singer was quoted to have said that her chemotherapy treatment was not working well — “I always feel helpless.” In Hong Kong a super star too died of cancer during / after chemotherapy. There are many more of such cases being reported in the mass media.
The comment on the fax was enlightening: “So much about scientific, evidence-based medicine!” There was a similar case in Holland — of a “star” who died of cancer. She deliberately (note: her own choice) refused to undergo medical treatment and went for alternatives. After her death (but not sooner as this “Superman’s wife), the Dutch authorities initiated a proceeding to go after the blood of “alternative medicine”. So much about fairness or a level playing field!
I have given only a few examples of prominent personalities who died of cancer. Do you ever ask why they died? Is it because they don’t have the best hospital to go to? Is it because they don’t have access to the best drugs? Is it because there are no good oncologists to attend to them? Is it because they don’t have the money to get the best of everything? I think the answer is glaringly evident and simple: the so-called state-of-the art cancer treatments do not work — at least for them. Is this not proof of failure? Or are we going to shift the goal post and say that these people are just plain too unlucky?