A Cancer That Wasn’t

by carlocmd

“Doctor,” he cried out, “I need your help.”

He walked into the clinic, desperate, with tears in his eyes.

He had just stepped off the bus from the provinces.  He has lived most of his life in Manila, supporting his family with his city income.  They were all farmers and lived all their lives on the land they tilled.

“It’s my brother,” he began, “he’s 76 years old.  He has colon cancer.  His doctors have scheduled him for surgery, but I asked them to wait.  I wanted your opinion.”

He was a stranger to me, but a patient I had seen over a year ago advised him to seek my opinion.

“I brought his pathology slides and his colonoscopy video,” he said.

It appeared to be a large cancer occupying the last part of his colon.  There was little doubt in my mind that this was a cancer.  What else can I do but pray?  And I did.

“Please, doctor, you must do something,” he begged.

The pathology report stated that it was an Adenocarcinoma.  I sent his slides to Pathology for a second reading.  It came as a surprise a day later that our pathologist read it as “chronic non-specific inflammation, no cancer cells seen.”

I asked that the patient be brought over to Manila so we can re-evaluate him.  We scheduled a colonoscopy the following day.

The whole clan, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and quite a few neighbours came to squeeze into the small private hospital room.

It was an easy procedure that took about 2 minutes going in, 10 minutes coming out.  There was no cancer anywhere in the colon.

The outpouring of joy in that room was palpable as I brought them the news.

“I knew we did the right thing,” he said as they headed home, “Thank you.”

I brought home a big basket of fresh and choice vegetables that day.