If there’s one thing that Nguyen Thi Man will go to any lengths to keep doing, that one thing would be singing. This 53-year-old realtor from Vietnam cannot help but smile and laugh each time she goes up on stage, even while lung cancer is threatening to take that happiness away.
The story of her determined fight against cancer began when she noticed something strange about her body. She went to a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City: “I was feeling unwell, I was getting high fevers while shivering with cold, so I went to see the doctor and found that I had hepatitis. More than a month and over 200 vials of antibiotics later, there was still no end in sight for my treatment; I was at my wit’s end. Then, a friend who had been treated at Bumrungrad Hospital before recommended it to me as a very good hospital, so I did some more research until I discovered the VITALLIFE Scientific Wellness Center at Bumrungrad Hospital. I learned about the chelation therapy and detoxification programmes available there, and felt that that’s exactly what my body needed, so I immediately booked myself into that programme!”
Storm clouds gather over her happiness
Thi Man spoke of her first impression of Bumrungrad Hospital: “Before I came here, I had only heard about hospitals in Singapore. I never imagined that there would be hospitals of this level in Thailand, but after receiving chelation therapy at Bumrungrad, I was very impressed. Everything about it was excellent, from the care to the treatment that I received.” About a year had passed since her first experience at Bumrungrad Hospital when she began to feel peculiar things going on with her body once again. She wasted no time in going straight to Bumrungrad to see what was up.
“At first everything just seemed normal, but then I started getting these back pains, from my shoulders down to the middle of my back. I would break into a sweat more easily than usual, and my body temperature was higher than it normally is. My doctor at Bumrungrad ordered a CT scan
with contrast, where a special dye was injected into me. Finally, I had a PET scan which revealed many malignant tumours of various sizes in my lungs.
The PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography / Computed Tomography) machine at the Horizon Regional Cancer Center is the first in Thailand. It was thanks to the level of detail and accuracy of these machines that the cancer could be detected in Thi Man’s lungs. “When the cancer was found I was so scared, so anxious. I had heard that if the tumors were disturbed in any way they would immediately spread all over my body, so I refrained from making an immediate decision on treatment.” But the unease from her diagnosis paled in comparison to news that her mother, who had been battling lung cancer in Vietnam up to that point, had just died from the disease the very same day that Thi Man was herself diagnosed.
“It was terrible news. I rushed back to Vietnam that same day to take care of my mother’s funeral. As soon as the ceremonies were done with, I decided to immediately return to the Horizon Regional Cancer Center for treatment. I didn’t want myself to become a casualty to cancer like my mother had just been, because I have a family to take care of. And another thing that I could not bear to lose was my ability to sing, because singing is a true love of my life. I have even won prizes at singing competitions. I’m so happy every time I go on stage to sing and have a good time with my friends,” Thi Man explained with eyes twinkling.
“Everything went smoothly with my treatment. I was in very good spirits. I really wanted to get better, so whatever my oncologist, Dr. Tanawat Jirakulaporn, who took care of my medication and Dr. Pattanasak Lertpradit, the cardiothoracic surgeon who operated on me, asked me to do, I did it.” Thi Man said. “My doctors really took care of me during my treatment, they even busied themselves with things like taking my blood pressure and helping me to prepare my body to receive the medication. In the CCU room, the nurses were very attentive too, they were all so pleasant, always smiling and offering encouragement. As for the language barrier, it was nothing at all! There was a medical interpreter from Vietnam with me at all times, which was very reassuring,” Thi Man told of her treatment, which entailed no less than four surgical operations within the space of two weeks.
The sooner you know, the surer the cure.
“I was very lucky to find out about my lung cancer during the early stages
, so I didn’t have to go through chemotherapy, nor radiation therapy. Early treatment meant that my life had the space for happiness to return sooner. I really must thank everyone at the Horizon Regional Cancer Center.” At the time of this interview, Thi Man is just a week away from her next singing competition, after being declared clear of cancer, adding to her delight.
Lessons from cancer
“Everything that happened made me shift my focus back onto taking care of my health, and the health of my family even more than before. I make sure that my house is cleaner than before, I take greater care over my diet than before, I filter my water, and I have an air filter in my house now. I have cut red meat out from my diet, and grilled foods too. Fatty foods are also gone. If I had to choose between the grill and singing, there’s just no contest. I would sooner give up the barbeque than stop singing, because that’s what makes me happiest.” Thi Man ended with a smile.