Japan, and the world, has been mourning over the loss of former newscaster, Kobayashi Mao to cancer. The fourth stage cancer was discovered a couple of years ago and despite receiving treatment, she passed away at the age of 34 on June 23, 2017.
Last year, an ex-colleague 2 years my junior passed away at the age of 31, within a couple of months of discovering her rare type of cancer known as clear-cell sarcoma. As I wrote in an earlier post, seeing her lay in the coffin in her wedding dress was really heart-breaking.
Recently, Singapore had been touched by a silent hero, Koh Minghao, who, after four years of battling cancer, left this world. Minghao, or Meng, as we called him, was in the same polytechnic as I was. I didn’t know him then, and only occasionally spotted him around school since we were in the same faculty. After graduation, I was assigned to the same company and same platoon as Meng in the army. He looked vastly different. He was big. Not fat. Very muscular. And also very cheerful and active. He was a mood-maker always smiling and laughing. I recall during an outfield training when each section were to operate separately, where in the middle of prowling through the forest, our sergeant would randomly point at someone to say he’s been hit and this guy is supposed to fall down. Since that means the “enemy” is nearby, the rest of us will have to set up the stretcher as quickly as possible, place the “injured” guy on it, 8 people will carry him on the stretcher and run while the rest will run along and take turns carrying the stretcher since it is very heavy.
It was that training that Meng’s legend spread through the company. When someone in his section was assigned as the injured man and fell, instead of waiting for the stretcher, Meng went, “No time for stretcher!” and carried the guy on his shoulder by himself and ran with the rest of his section for God knows how far. In our minds, we were like that guy is getting into OCS (Officer Cadet School) for sure. He was so fit.
The point of all these stories brings me to Kondo Makoto, a renowned doctor in the field of cancer, who has been the target of criticisms from people in his field. Dr. Kondo is an alternative preacher. He propagates the idea that cancer should be left alone and not be treated. He preaches that only when it makes the person feel pain and discomfort, should steps be taken to suppress them. Even so, the ad-hoc treatments should only occur at the times of pain and discomfort and only used to suppress them; not treat cancer. His argument is that patients can live longer if they left it alone, than if they had it treated. Besides, these treatments have side effects leading to reduced quality of life. Some of his patients even discover their cancers disappearing a few years after leaving it alone. Despite receiving criticism, Dr. Kondo is also very popular and cancer patients from all over the world fly in just to receive diagnosis from the rebel of the field of cancer.
I first learned about Dr. Kondo on Nakai Masahiro’s Kinsma TV program. While I don’t recall the details, all these recent happenings of people dying of cancer do make me wonder if they could’ve lived a much longer life if they hadn’t discovered their cancer. Who knows how long Kobayashi had her cancer before being diagnosed so. What would have happened if she never learned about it? What if treating it really isn’t the right move? What if all these cancer treatments are just doctors way of making money? What if?