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.
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.
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. :)