What would you do if your child is diagnosed with cancer?
The New Paper
By Benita Aw Yeong
Alternative treatments such as detoxification diets and Chinese herbs offer a glimmer of hope for cancer patients who shudder at the thought of chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy, a common form of treatment for various types of cancer, uses various chemicals and medicines to kill cancerous cells.
These chemicals, often given in the form of injections and tablets, cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and loss of hair.
The fear of such side effects, coupled with anecdotes of failed medical therapies like surgery or radiation, drives patients to explore alternative treatments, says Dr Lim Siew Eng, a senior consultant at National University Cancer Institute's Department of Haematology-Oncology.
Former Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs, who died of pancreatic cancer last October, refused surgery when a tumour was detected early in his pancreas.
"I really didn't want them to open up my body, so I tried to see if a few other things would work," he told the author of his biography, Mr Walter Isaacson.
Instead, Mr Jobs turned to a strict vegan diet, which consisted of large quantities of fresh carrot and fruit juices, when he was diagnosed in October 2003.
His regimen also included acupuncture, a variety of herbal remedies and occasionally other treatments he found through the Internet or by consulting people, including a psychic.
In July 2004, a scan showed that the tumour had grown and would possibly spread, forcing Mr Jobs to undergo surgery. He would fight the disease for another seven years before succumbing to it.
Other people turn to alternative therapies not in the hope of a cure, but to try to keep the cancer at bay.
After undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumour in her colon, 60 year-old Miss Loh, who declined to reveal her full name, found peace of mind by taking Chinese herbs from Bao Zhong Tang TCM Centre at the Singapore General Hospital.
"The doctor said there was a 30 per cent chance of the disease coming back, so I was very worried. I also experienced breathlessness, severe fatigue, and numbness in my limbs, all of which the herbs helped to ease," says the retiree.
This article was first published in The New Paper.