My mom’s battle with lung cancer

mom cancer

It has been three months since I last saw my mom. She picked me up from the airport this morning and I noticed some physical changes – particularly a really aggressive acne-like rash all over her face and upper body. It’s more visible in real life, but my mom’s a fighter.

She was diagnosed about two years ago and opted for lung surgery in New Zealand. However, that didn’t really work out and she went on chemotherapy and then radiotherapy (which explains the hair loss, it’s more noticeable around the eyebrows) which forced it into remission for a bit before it the cancer returned again.

My mom switched her medication recently and she told me she’s not particularly curious about how it works. I know it’s a TKI and it costs an insane amount of money. The side effects are really intense – the skin condition being the most dangerous since it can be fatal if not monitored properly. Yes, this drug can kill you in rare cases, but the same is true for all medication.

However, the FDA has approved it for certain types of advanced lung cancer where chemotherapy alone has failed. It improves the overall survival rate by 19% when used together with chemotherapy and the manufacturer claims it extends life by 3.3 months when the end game comes. It is rather expensive though – the single dose per day tablet costs RM 300.

It’s a patented drug that will only expire in 2020 although there is another pharmaceutical company embroiled in a lawsuit for producing generics for the Indian market (who won’t be able to afford the patented drug anyway).

This means the medication alone will cost RM 9,000 per month. The other ancillary costs like PET scans, tumor marker tests, hospital bills etc hasn’t been factored in yet and I’ve been meaning to contribute more to help defray the costs. Her health and life insurance company are covering only 21-23% of the health caring costs due Lung Cancer being one of the most deadliest diseases in womens, what I find really unfair because my mom never smoke a single cigarette on his entire life or even were exposed to chemical harmful vapors… fortunately we had found a viatical settlement provider that may accept her life insurance policy of Best Medicare supplement plans 2020 in exchange for instant paper money to cover her full treatment.

bandaged fingertips

My mom has bandages on most of her fingertips due to the rash (it looks like acne – raised pimples and patches) so I’ve been helping around the house. I just realized that our kitchen sink is built really low – got a backache just from washing all the dishes inside.

mom rash

However, I’m glad I came home. I’ll be here for a week, all the better to spend some time with my mom and dad. 🙂

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61 thoughts on “My mom’s battle with lung cancer”

    • Thanks bro!

      We’re much obliged. We’re praying for a remission too.

      Appreciate you keeping my mom in your prayers.

    • Yup, that’s how these things work anyway. Our parents raised us up, now it’s time for us to return the love that they’ve shown us. Cheers mate!

    • Cancer is a really insidious disease. 😡

      We thought it had gone into full remission too but that was not the case when she went for her regular checkups.

    • Yeah, I’ve been spending time at home talking to her and helping out instead of going out all day like I usually do when I come back to Sibu during CNY.

      Family is important.

  1. yes. Never give up on hope! Forever remember that! She’s a fighter!! I’ll pray for your mom… ;DD
    Bear in mind…Never give up!! until the end!!!

    • She was first diagnosed in 2010, it’s been up and down since then, she goes for regular tumor marker checkups and lots of tests and scans.

      We’re hoping for a full recovery with the new medication but it has A LOT of side effects.

  2. I’m really glad that your mum is a fighter. Not everyone could withstand the physical, mental and emotional torture of battling with cancer. Kudos to your mum, and I’ll pray so that she will continue to fight on and get well soon. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and will pray so that God will be with her always and she will get well soon.

    ps: The medication is very expensive. 🙁 I wonder when such medication will be made more affordable for people who are suffering from cancer. 🙁

    • Thank you for keeping her in your prayers Elizabeth! It’s much appreciated.

      Yup, she’s a real fighter. She’s been through surgery, chemo and radio.

      In addition to that, she’s now taking a drug called Tarceva – a TKI which specifically targets aggressive lung cancer that doesn’t respond to chemo. It’s supposed to help a lot when used together with chemo but the side effects are really bad.

      It’s also very expensive – it’s a new drug and there’s only two types that specifically targets lung cancer. The patent expires in 2020 and I understand the pharma company has to recoup the R&D costs and they sued two other companies who tried to make cheaper generics.

      It’s the meds and chemo that makes for a particularly bad experience, the side effects really is intense coz chemo is essentially poison. 😡

    • Yeah it is, cancer is a really insidious disease. There’s a lot of side effects from the chemo and radio treatments.

      Yup, I’m doing that…another thing that makes her happy is my new nephew who just got born. 🙂

    • Thanks Yuenny!

      Yup, I’m going to spend a week here to help out and spend time with my mom. Family is important, I want to spend time with her while I still can.

      Of course, we’re also praying for a remission. Cheers!

    • Yeah, going through all that surgery, radio and chemo treatments is gnarly. Cancer is one hell of a disease – the only way to treat it is through poisoning your body.

      She’s taking a highly targeted medication now though, which is also very expensive, and has A LOT of side effects…

      …but then all cancer treatments has the worse side effect profiles I’ve seen. 😡

    • Thanks Kelly!

      Yup, I’m spending more time with my family. The worst thing about cancer is that you never know when it’s going to come back and each time you go for checkups it’s always a stressful experience.

      The treatments are really bad too, side effects are hellish.

    • Indeed, she is very strong, she doesn’t give up hope and neither do we.

      Yup, that’s what I’m here for, family first, giving back to your parents who raised you with love.

  3. Dude, I notice the pattern on the couch matches your favorite Quicksilver board-shorts. Cheers, enjoy your time with your mom. We never know who goes first…

    • Heh. Yeah, it does look a bit like that.

      Thanks bro, am doing exactly that.

      I agree, life is so unpredictable, you just gotta roll with it.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Bel but we’re not big believers in Chinese medication.

      My sister is a doctor so she’s very wary of quacks who promises everything and delivers nothing.

      My mom is taking a new medication that specially made for aggressive lung cancer – it’s highly targeted but she still needs chemo and radio (technically, the new drug is a form of chemo).

      We’re hoping for a full remission.

      Thanks for the suggestion and well wishes!

    • Yeah, she does and I’m proud of her for that.

      Going through all that surgery, chemo and radio can’t be fun…and the worst thing about cancer is that every time you go for checkups it’s a very stressful experience coz you don’t know how much more the cancer has spread.

      We’re hoping for a full remission.

      Thanks for the well wishes!

    • I’m sorry to hear that bro…

      Cancer really is one of the worst diseases if not the worst, coz of all the stuff you have to go through and there’s no guarantees.

      We’re hoping for a full remission.

      Thanks for the well wishes mate!

  4. My FIL had 4th stage liver cancer. surgery won’t work, and he also took medications like your mum. really expensive meds, at RM18k a month. It’s crazy how much it costs, and worse, it can only extend your life by a few months. he also ended up with chemo, radiation, everything. Seeing what he went through, i know it’s very, very tough, both emotionally, mentally and on the pockets. Just give her all the emotional support you can, and ask her to never ever give up.

    • Hey Mel, I’m really sorry to hear about your father in law.

      Yeah, surgery doesn’t work unless you catch it early. I was with her in New Zealand when she had the surgery but like the oncologist said – no guarantees. That’s cancer for you.

      It came back and spread and she had to go through chemo and later radio and now she’s on a new medication that specifically targets aggressive lung cancers when chemo stops working.

      Yeah, the new drug she’s taking costs RM 300 per tablet. It’s called Tarceva and it’s made for lung cancers of her type (non smokers who gets lung cancer). That’s not inclusive of all the other tests, hospitalizations and meds that she takes, it’s really hard on the wallet so we’re all contributing.

      Tarceva claims it can extend end stage for up to 3.3 months and 19% overall survival rate when used with chemo. We’re counting on that.

      We’ll never give up and will always be praying for a remission.

      Thanks for the support Mel!

    • Thanks Evelyn!

      Yeah, it’s really hard especially with all the treatments being so hard on the body. Chemo and radio doesn’t discriminate between healthy cells and malignant cells and with aggressive cancers like lung cancer it can be very discouraging and stressful each time she goes for her regular checkups.

      Both my maternal and paternal grandfather died of lung cancer too.

      It’s a bit better nowadays – there are highly targeted lung cancer chemo drugs, it’s new but there are a lot of side effects and to be honest, not a lot of data on efficacy.

      Our heartfelt thanks for the kind offer and support!

      We appreciate that, thanks for the concern and support!

    • Well, we can’t exactly do that since we have to help out with the insane bills from cancer.

      I’m going to spend more time with her and contribute more to help out with all the expenses.

      My mom is usually with my sister though. She’s just coming back for a while. My niece and nephew really cheers her up. 🙂

      My sis just gave birth to a baby boy and that’s one of the things that makes her happy.

      We’re all praying for a full remission and we’re not giving up.


  5. Hello Huai Bin,

    It must be sobering to face a situation like this and I am sure it puts everything in one’s life in perspective. Although it’s bloody hard to see, there must be some positives resulting from this experience (otherwise it would be a really bitter pill to swallow). I’l remember your Mum in my prayers and I’m sure that you will let her know that about 50 people so far have written in response to your post about her. Chin up Bin.

    • Thanks for your concern and prayers Clem!

      It’s much appreciated.

      Yup, it certainly does put a lot of things into perspective about life and how short it is.

      We’ll keep on praying and we’re hoping for a full remission.

  6. I’m so sorry to learn about your mum’s condition.

    Both my parents succumbed to this disease that’s why I can totally relate. A few years after their passing I found solace in Lance Armstrong’s story on how he managed to beat cancer an go on to be one of the most inspirational person.

    He has a cancer foundation and it’s called LIVESTRONG. They have a guidebook on cancer and you can find it here

    Hope this helps.

    • Thanks for the support mate!

      I’m sorry to hear about your parents…and that seems like a great book. I’ll check it out.

      Cheers mate!

    • Nope, and from the sound of it I don’t think my mom would take it too.

      My sister is a doctor so she’s very wary about quacks and instant cures. There is no cure for cancer, just chemo and radio to beat it into submission.

      There’s no magic bullet yet. 😡

  7. Bin, just a huge hug and lots of prayers from me to your mom and the family. *HUGS* That woman’s a tough cookie and you should be so proud of her 🙂

    • Hey there Darlene!

      Yup, I’m totally proud of my mom.

      Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes! Much appreciated. <3

  8. A book I read says “do good deed, love and help people and animal” as much as one can and pray. This could help slowing down the ill. However, don’t stop fighting. But how do one fights the cancer battle? Well, follow the quotes. Please follow some of these methods, it might help:

    1. Become a complete vegetarian. What this means is if one eating animal and cause them suffering, one will be suffered. Karma is a powerful thing. Vegetable helps weakening cancer agents and it helps fighting the bacteria.

    2. Unleash the power of love by helping the needy. If you have extra money, donate to charity or red-cross. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

    3. You can help your Mom with this article

    4. If you can read Vietnamese, start here,14.0.html

    5. You do good deeds, such as above, and pray and dedicate those for her. Within a short period of time, you will see the road to recovery is tremendous. So start today!

    • Hello Jason!

      My entire family is Christian, and very strong in the faith. However, most the stuff you mentioned above is not entirely incompatible with Christianity beliefs.

      Thanks for the concern and well wishes mate.

  9. Indeed happy to read that you come to REALISATION what life is all about before too late esp. for your parents.

    Do request your mum to take
    1) sour sop
    2) custard apples
    3) passion fruits
    4) roselle (hibiscus sadriffa)
    6) Pineapples
    5) vegs such as brocolli and cauliflower /cabbages

    Take NIL red meat instead take
    PLANT protein from Amway


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