Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Curious Case of Miriam

Few months ago, Sen Miriam Santiago announced she has stage 4 lung cancer. Some went sad because they, myself included, saw in her someone who could be their leader for a better governance.

Then afterwards a few months, in a press conference she announced that she has been cured, “I licked cancer.” She was cured! And now she is ready to accept the challenge to lead the country to a better future. Many, especially those from the medical field got baffled how easily would she be cured, in barely three months. Between her announcement of having a cancer and getting cured, you see her occasionally attending functions and delivering speeches. You never saw her wear a wig, get bald. She said her doctor had been giving her a new kind of treatment modality. Alright, fine. Perhaps that is someone I am not familiar too as oncology is not my field of specialty.

Then she declared her candidacy. People are used to her giving several pick-up lines of one liner jokes before her main speech to the amazement and entertainment of her audience. Even in her sorties that I have attended, she always commanded and drew attention to her with those jokes she never failed to deliver. But during this time, there were no pick-up lines, one liners. The speech was only a short 5-min run. And then she sat down and allowed photo ops with her followers. A very very unusual thing to happen.

People became skeptic. Did she really beat cancer in mere three months? Why the sudden change of her speaking style? Did she not really get cured and now cancer is taking its toll?

A doctor challenged her to present her case, whether it be a medical certificate or medical abstract to prove her claim of cure in barely three months. She is running for a sensitive position and as a voter we ought to know her health status, she claimed. But Miriam was so adamant that she invoked her right to privacy. Okay, so we respect that, but that leaves us hanging as to how she really is… cured? in remission? or worse, did she just make up stories to gain sympathy? I hope not.

We know that lung cancer, stage 4 at that has a very low survival rate. In fact, a 5-year survival rate of if the lung cancer at the time of diagnosis is already stage 4 is nil, barely 1%. Many of them would not even last six months from the time of diagnosis. We usually use the terms survival rate, in remission, but we rarely use the term “CURED.” I know of one patient (a relative of one of my patients) who had full remission, but being workaholic, he wanted to resume his stint in the government service. His doctor however advised him not to because the stress might just trigger relapse, causing expression of genes for replication of cancer genes.

If indeed her claim is true, personally I wanted to congratulate her for beating a stage 4 lung cancer. Such is not an easy feat.

The doctor wanted to know the state of health of MDS as campaigning and sorties would be energy-draining and stressful. But without really her medical abstract or certificate of full remission one in the know would cast doubt as to the authenticity of her claim. Her case is a curious one, I would say it is worth discussing in a medical conference. Her case is a statement that a stage 4 lung cancer is curable, inspire others not to lose hope.

Then recently, she changed her story… she is currently on chemotherapy, but her cancer is “stable.” Wait, whaaaat? So what happened now to “she licked cancer?” Was she really cured at all?

And what were the implications of her presumptive “cured” statement? She actually demoralized patients or relatives of patients who died for receiving a different treatment regimen. The indigent people would despair “pwede pala tayo mabuhay sa stage 4 lung cancer kung may pera lang tayo kagaya ni Miriam.” Chain or heavy smokers can say “why quit from smoking when stage 4 lung cancer is curable?”

She was just so hasty to let her audience know that she still can run for presidency. Wrong move though I must say…




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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Uncategorized