The Mirror of Life: Reflections from a Cancer Survivor

“What’s happening to my brother has already been mirrored in my own life. I don’t want him to suffer from cancer the way I did. I must do everything I possibly can to rid him of the cancer.” These are the words of Srey Ly, a young businesswoman from Cambodia. It seems that fate is playing a cruel game with her family; after nasopharyngeal cancer was diagnosed in her, her brother followed suite.
Srey Ly’s story began in 2014. She had started to notice some strange developments in her body. Srey Ly had vaguely heard of Thailand, and Bumrungrad International Hospital in particular, as a go-to destination for healthcare of some kind or another. But like many of her compatriots, she was more aware of medical services in Vietnam and decided to sought her treatment there. Immediately, it was found that she had swollen lymph nodes. Later on, a 2.8 centimeters malignant tumor was found in her nasal cavity. The treatment was suggested right away.
But Srey Ly was deeply concerned about how the cancer would affect her and her family as she was the main breadwinner of the family, caring not just for her younger brother but also her own young children. She could not take any chances with her treatment, so she opted to do some more research on her own. Her friend’s suggestion leads to her discovery of Bumrungrad International Hospital’s reputation as the home of one of the best cancer programs in Asia. The level of expertise, the comprehensiveness of the treatment, together with the positive comments she heard, made such an impression she decided to entrust her life in the care of the hospital.     

Treatment: radiation therapy and chemotherapy

“When I first arrived at the hospital, I was introduced to Dr. Vitchaphan Hemrungrojn at the Ear Nose and Throat Center. Dr. Vitchaphan ordered a biopsy, which yielded results about five days later. The biopsy confirmed that I did indeed have a malignant tumor in my nasal cavity, so my treatment was put into the hands of Dr. Apichart Panichevaluk, an expert in radiology and radiation therapy, who wasted no time in getting stuck into my treatment.”
Because her particular case of cancer required a concurrent treatment of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Srey Ly was also referred to Dr. Surasit Issarachai, a medical oncologist, to oversee the chemotherapy side of things. Among medical circles, the nasopharyngeal cancer itself is rated with a high chance of treatment success, though the treatment is fairly arduous because of the severe side-effects. Srey Ly had to soldier on through no less than five radiation therapy sessions a week.
“My treatment required both radiation and chemotherapy, and I was very impressed by the way the doctors handled it. I had to go through no less than 35 radiation therapy sessions, yet Dr. Apichart always managed to keep me in good spirits, despite the tortuous pain of the side effects. I was barely able to drink water. It was so painful, but I had to keep on fighting through it. The doctors prescribed painkillers to help make it easier for me to swallow, so that I could eat as much as I possibly could, and be as ready as possible for the next round of treatment. The most important thing was my morale. Even though I was in pain, my spirits never flagged. The doctors never failed to inspire confidence in me over the seven weeks of my treatment.”

From sister to brother

“I am full of admiration for the three doctors who handled my treatment, who helped me to keep going for my children, for my brother, and the rest of my family,” said Srey Ly. Things were going well, until she noticed something strange. It all came flooding back; the swollen lymph nodes, the malignant growth in the nasal cavity, but this time in her brother.
“When I brought my brother in to be examined, I noticed the shocking resemblance to my own case. From the swollen lymph nodes, to the malignant growth in the same exact area. Even the courses of treatment were exactly the same!” Srey Ly recounts, reliving her surprise. “I knew all too well the pain and suffering that my brother would have to face as he went through treatment. I gave him all the support that I possibly could. I did all that I could to support him getting better in each and every way. If I could be cured, so could he.”

What if the cancer strikes her family yet again?

“What will be, will be. If something has happened, we can’t make it un-happen. We just have to fight our way through it, and keep moving on. If the cancer happened to my child in the way that it happened to me, I will do everything to make it go away. I am utterly confident in the first-class treatment and care in each and every way that is available at the Horizon Cancer Center. I am sure that whatever happens, we will handle it. But of course, it’s much better if it doesn’t happen at all,” she said with a smile.
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