KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 24, 2011): The chairman of the Committee to Promote Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony, Datuk Illani Isahak, died today after fighting against breast cancer for the past five years. Ilani breathed her last at about 6 a.m. at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (PPUKM). Ilani, who would have been 58 next month, had been in hospital since Jan 23, her brother Dr Amir Farid Isahak said. “The entire family was with her when she took her last breath.”
On 2 March 2011, I received an e-mail from Dr. Amir. He wrote:
I am especially upset because my own sister Dato Hajjah Ilani just died last week after undergoing three years of chemo. She followed everything the oncologist prescribed. Each time, after discussing with me, she would decide “no more chemo”, but after the next visit with the oncologist, she would tell me “the oncologist said it is absolutely necessary that I go for the chemo, so I agreed”.
In three years she had many courses of chemo. She also had many doses of Herceptin, which was wrongly given because they later told her that her report was wrong.
She had several doses of Avastin, which was withdrawn for use in breast cancer by US FDA in Dec 2010 because the damage outweighed any potential good. You can imagine what devastation all these did to her body.
She had chemo till Dec 2010. Only when she was in bad shape in Jan 2011 did she decide no more chemo. By that time the oncologists also decided that she was a hopeless case and good for palliative care only.
At her death bed, she told me “Learn from my mistake, do not go for chemo”.
Herceptin and Avastin are expensive drugs. But they do not cure cancer!
Research showed that Herceptin prolonged survival by 4.6 months if it is added to the chemo-regimen.
Avastin was first used for metastatic colorectal cancer. It never cures it either. In 2008, the FDA approved Avastin for the treatment of advanced breast cancer. But research did not show that it can ever cure breast cancer either. Early this year, the FDA withdrew the approval of Avastin for breast cancer due to side effects. Now the drug manufacturer is appealing against this withdrawal. The jury is still out – never underestimate what money can do!