CANCER: Lung cancer and melanoma – treatment via Immunotheraphy

I’m not scared of death.
Seriously, I’m not.

What scared me shitless however, would be impending death and suffering.

I have first hand experience of the pain and frustrations when the body fails.
I’ve had my fair share of emergencies admissions to hospitals for the past 30 years. I still have a rod in my femur courtesy of a bike collision with a car a decade back.
I had a scare earlier this year when I suffered abdominal pains daily for 2 weeks but was bedridden with no diagnosis. At times, the C word almost came up, for such unidentified illness seem to point at CANCER. I had a MRI done. The hospital bill (Tropicana Medical Centre) was about RM10,000 for a 3D2N stay. But thankfully, I’m cancer-free.
So far.


So you see, death isn’t an issue. Being ill, racking up a 6-digit medical bill, watching my loved ones despair and the endless suffering however, are good causes to fear.

I can’t emphasize enough on routine check-ups. Indeed the pad smears, the scans, the blood tests and the vaccinations may be tedious but they are NECESSARY.
Personally I had mine done annually, the latest was last year when I bought a whole package by BP Healthcare.

So yes, my interest in health, fitness and general well-being is far from lip-service. I watch my diet, I exercise, I did my annual check ups and I take supplements.

But am I 100% safe from cancer? Are YOU 100% safe from cancer?

AIA run

Frankly, NO ONE is.
What we can do however, is to keep abreast of developments on possible treatments and of course, watch out for the signs and symptoms of cancer in the hope that we could prevent ourselves (and our loved ones) from falling victim to cancer.

When I was told of a lung cancer awareness drive spearheaded by MSD I confirmed my attendance for their workshop immediately.
The big C kills more than we cared to admit. A definite cure hasn’t been discovered yet and after losing more than a few close friends to cancer, I hope to do my part by spreading cancer awareness through my site and social media platforms.

Thanks to Dr Tho, now I have some numbers to share:

Worldwide 14.1 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year.
Worldwide 8.2 million people died from cancer each year.
Worldwide 32.6 million people are living with cancer.
In Malaysia, there are about 37, 426 new cancer cases each year.
21,700 Malaysians die from cancer every year.

Does the above scares you?

Well, it should. Because these numbers are REAL.

Now what can YOU do to make sure that neither you or any of your loved ones are victims of CANCER?


During the workshop, Dr Tho Lye Mun, a Consultant Oncologist & a fully accredited clinical oncology specialist spoke of both lung and melanoma (skin cancer).
I had always thought that breast cancer is the most common cancer type but no, apparently LUNG CANCER kills more than breast, prostate and colon cancer COMBINED.

And in Malaysia, lung cancer is one of the leading cancer cases with mortality rate of almost 80%. This is because lung cancer are usually detected extremely due to the lack of symptoms until a very late stage.

All surgeries are painful and takes a long time to heal, both physically and mentally.
In case you do not know, a thoracotomy looks like this. Bloody and yes, painful for sure.

And thus prevention is better than cure.
Do not be a cancer statistic!


Despite grim statistics, there are numerous preventative measures to minimize your risk of being diagnosed with the big C, starting with lifestyle change.
Medical experts have made excellent progress in understanding the biology of cancer cells and they have already been able to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. However, instead of waiting for new breakthroughs, do take initiatives to protect yourself RIGHT NOW.

Enjoy your favourite foods, but in moderation. Staying active helps too.

And I CAN’T stress enough on the importance of getting regular check-ups; including the screening tests that can help detect cancer before it progresses further.

The American Cancer Society developed this simple reminder years ago:

  • C: Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A: A sore that does not heal
  • U: Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • T: Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere
  • I: Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  • O: Obvious change in a wart or mole
  • N: Nagging cough or hoarseness

It’s a rough guide at best. The vast majority of such symptoms are caused by nonmalignant disorders and cancers can produce symptoms that don’t show up on the list, for example unexplained weight loss or fatigue. Nevertheless it is a useful reminder to listen to your body and report sounds of distress to your doctor!


Dr Tho showed us slides which touches on the prevalence of lung cancer and melanoma worldwide and among Malaysians.
The mortality rate of cancer is depressing. Very few cancer patients live beyond 5 years.

Tobacco and smoking is the leading cause of cancer, followed closely by obesity (poor diet) and environmental pollution.
So if you know of anyone who smokes, encourage them to quit.


If you or your loved one is diagnosed with cancer, there is still HOPE.
Current various treatment options for lung cancer and melanoma include:
* Surgery
* Radiation Therapy
* Chemotherapy
* Immunotherapy
* Targeted Therapy
* Hormone Therapy

However the talk by Dr Tho opened my eyes and mind to IMMUNOTHERAPY. All along I had thought that the only treatment option available for cancer was chemo (or at least widely accepted or known to us ’normal people’).

Today, I learnt that immunotheraphy is a newer treatment option for cancer and melanoma. Immunotheraphy treatments harness and enhance the innate powers of our own immune system to fight cancer – pretty much triggering your immune system to work better at destroying cancer cells.

I find it a reverting topic.
Does this mean we are near to discovering a “cure” for cancer?


Immunotherapy works by making use of substances made by the body or in a laboratory to improve or restore immune system function. Immunotherapy may work in these ways:

** Stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells

** Stopping cancer from spreading to other parts of the body

** Helping the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells

There are several types of immunotherapy, but I won’t go into details here as that would get too technical. Ever since meeting Dr Tho I’ve been reading a lot of articles about its efficiency from Google. A few friends had PM me and shared with me their experiences with immunotheraphy as well.

All I can say is, immunotheraphy is becoming an important element for treating cancers. It may hold greater potential than current treatment approaches to fight cancer, offer more durable responses and ensure fewer side effects.

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