Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 12 News List

A cure for cancer?

A Taipei woman makes an astounding recovery from late-stage breast cancer without chemotherapy or invasive surgery

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Chang Chiung-wen takes a walk at a track next to Taipei City Hospital’s Yangming branch. She says consistent exercise is one of the keys to her recovery from late-stage breast cancer.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

In November 2014, Chang Chiung-wen (張瓊文) packed a suitcase full of old clothes and left her home. She had spent the previous 18 years taking care of her child and husband, who is paralyzed from the neck down due to a car accident.

“I planned to find a place to die quietly,” she says. “If I could not take care of my family, I would only be a burden to them.”

Chang had just been diagnosed with mucinous carcinoma in her left breast. After three visits to National Taiwan University Hospital, she was told that the cancer had metastasized to her armpit and surgery would be futile. If she did not undergo chemotherapy, she was told, she would only have a few months to live.

Chang lost her will to live, and that is when she left home. During this time, her husband spent all day on the Internet (with the help of a caretaker) looking for a sliver of hope. He read about Liu Chin-liang (劉金亮), a neurosurgeon at Taipei City Hospital’s Yangming Branch, who had just made the news for curing a patient with two malignant brain tumors using his noninvasive “three-in-one treatment” (三合一療法).

Chang’s husband called her repeatedly to tell her his discovery, but she refused to pick up. One day, she accidentally pressed the receive button, and decided to give it a last try.

DELAYED DIAGNOSIS

Chang says even Liu was reluctant to take her at first — but eventually relented as Chang told her she had nowhere else to go.

Liu says mucinous carcinoma, which makes up about 2 percent of breast cancer cases, is actually benign and fairly easy to treat — but Chang had waited for too long.

Chang says she had always known that something was wrong with her — for more than a year before the diagnosis, she had experienced what she would later know to be cancer fatigue. She also noticed the growth on her breast, but she was afraid to leave her family behind.

Instead, Chang opted to receive weekly nutrition injections. She had trouble eating, and often ended up crying on the side of the road because she did not have the energy to walk home after grocery shopping — even passing out on multiple instances and being revived by passersby who administered CPR.

Over time, the growth became unbearably painful, and she finally had to seek help. It was not easy after she moved to Taipei City Hospital either, as she says several staff and doctors suggested she move to hospice care. She eventually broke down in her hospital room.

“The doctor came and told me that once he takes a patient, he will not give up on them even after they leave the hospital,” Chang says. “How could I give up on myself?”

‘THREE-IN-ONE TREATMENT’

Chang started treatment with Liu in December 2014. Liu says he is like the “refugee camp” of cancer patients — he often takes in those who have been deemed incurable by other institutions.

Liu says the first person he cured was his mother, who had undergone multiple surgeries for a thyroid tumor that had metastasized to the brain. After the cancer returned, he decided to try a different method so she would not have to go through another surgery.

Liu says his methods are different from medical norms, and are only used when all other options have been exhausted. He says that he has cured more than 10 of the over 30 final stage or near-death patients he has accepted over the past two years.

“I only use [the treatment] on people who have no more hope,” he says. “Otherwise I tell them to undergo regular treatment elsewhere.”

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