Patient's Narrative: How I Obtain Confidence from a Harvard Lung Cancer Doctor

Updated: Jan 25



I'm 42 years old. I was discovered to have got lung cancer by accident in March 2017 and developed tumor metastasis in June. I was advised by a friend in the U.S. and contacted with Medebound HEALTH. I was recommended to Christopher G Azzoli MD, a lung cancer expert, who is a professor at the Cancer Center of Massachusetts General Hospital, and the chairman of the Committee of Clinical Guidelines for Lung Cancer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Together with a famous doctor from one of the best lung cancer treatment centers in the United States, we fought against lung cancer and have decided to become the master of my own destiny!



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Abstract

01. I'm 42 years old. I have no bad life habits and have always been in good health. Until March 2017, I was discovered to have got lung cancer by accident;


02. In May 2017, I underwent surgery in China. In June, a PET-CT re-examination revealed a suspected tumor metastasis in neck lymph nodes;


03. My foreign friend suggested that I try to consult a lung cancer specialist in the U.S. After that, I found the top lung cancer hospital in the U.S., Massachusetts General Hospital, through Medebound HEALTH. Medebound HEALTH recommended Dr. Azzoli, an American lung cancer specialist and the chairman of the Committee of Clinical Guidelines for Lung Cancer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).


04. My wife organized all the medical records, latest imaging reports and pathology reports from Chinese hospitals, submitted them to Medebound HEALTH for translation into English and sent them via the cloud platform to the American lung cancer specialist Dr. Azzoli. I then received the first round of written consultation with Dr. Azzoli;


05. American lung cancer specialist Dr. Azzoli received my medical information and replied to me with a long case interpretation report based on my questions.


06. Combined with the report of American lung cancer specialist Dr. Azzoli, the doctors in China treated me actively. In order to determine the late-stage treatment, we requested another video consultation with Dr. Azzoli. The consultation was scheduled in June 2017 through the arrangement of Medebound HEALTH.


07. In the video consultation, Dr. Azzoli analyzed whether I was suitable for lung cancer targeted therapy and lung cancer immunotherapy, and recommended radiotherapy and chemotherapy.


08. From mid-June to late September, I started 4 cycles of chemotherapy; from the end of July to late September, I underwent 33 chemotherapy treatments and chest radiotherapy treatments; from mid-October to the end of October, I underwent 10 preventive head radiation treatments;


09. The tumour volume was significantly reduced, no tumor metastasis found in other parts of the body, and the lymph nodes once suspected to be involved in metastasis also was reduced;


10. In November, we organized the treatment process and results since the video consultation and sent them to Dr. Azzoli. I received a second written report from Dr. Azzoli, he put forward meaningful suggestions for my treatment plan again;


11. I share my story in order to give people who are fighting like me greater hope of beating the horrible lung cancer.

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My Story


I'm 42 years old. I don't smoke or drink. I have been living with my wife in Chengdu, and I have regular medical examinations every year. Except for fatty liver, I have no other health problems. I always thought that I could understand a lot of things at this age, but I didn't know that some things are more desperate after understanding, such as cancer.


Confirmed


•March 2017

I started coughing and took some medicine for cold, but it didn't get better, and my symptoms were intermittent. Later, I took a CT for a physical examination. Once the doctor saw it, his expression changed, and I also fell into despair. The CT results showed a 1.8cm lesion in my left lung, as well as 3cm of mediastinal lymph nodes and left hilar lymph nodes.


Treatment is necessary for disease. I asked someone to register me for admission at the best hospital in Chengdu. For the first month, I spent my days running around in medical, surgical, imaging, clinical and other departments. The hospital is a place that quietly took a lot of your time, even consumed most of your patience, and gradually forced you to reveal a grumpy and desperate side.


•May 2017

I underwent the surgery. After I woke up from the anesthesia, I had a smile on my face. My wife asked me why I smiled, I said that I had just experienced the best sleep in those few hours. After the surgery, the results of my disease were more certain. The surgical pathology showed a lung cancer with no tumor cells in the local lymph nodes, but nodules were found in 11 groups of fibrous lymphatic tissue.


•June 2017

A re-examination in June showed a tumor metastasis in my neck lymph node! It was an embarrassing position The neck surgeon thought that this lymph node was too small and the nature was not clear, the surgery would be very traumatic to the patient's neck and it might not be possible to find this position during surgery, so the surgeon did not recommend a surgery;


I often tossed and turned at night. Was my life going to come to an end soon? I was reluctant.


My Acquaintance with the Doctor


However, I was still lucky. An old friend learned about my situation and told me that the United States is the most medically advanced region in the world. Why not come to the United States for lung cancer treatment? The simple words gave me another option in my despair. The way of thinking determines the way out. I used to think that I came to an end when the big Chinese hospitals had no way.


But going abroad for medical treatment is not a trivial matter after all, delaying the treatment is a big matter than spending money. However, it seems that going abroad for treatment is almost my only hope to live at the moment. Therefore, we decided to make a desperate fight. The first thing my wife and I had to confirm was which hospital in the US I should go to for my lung cancer treatment.


I knew nothing about the US hospitals and my friend helped me. There were also too many various rankings of hospitals on the Internet, all of which said they were the best, and I could not choose. In fact, what my wife and I cared about was lung cancer treatment. We believed in the authority of whichever foreign hospital with high efficiency in lung cancer treatment, more treatment methods, authoritative experts and more investment in lung cancer research.


I am truly grateful to my wife for her silent support in my time of helplessness.


There was too much information on the Internet that I could not extract useful information efficiently. Then my American friend told me that there is an authoritative medical review organization, Castle Connolly, one of the highest awards for doctors in the United States. In China, there is a cooperative organization called Medebound. Therefore, I chose Medebound, which told me to consider Massachusetts General Hospital.


We learned that MGH established the first oncology clinic in the world as early as 1925, and the X-ray, MRI and PET-CT, which are commonly used in medicine, were first used in the world by this hospital and later spread to various countries; it was also the first hospital in the world to carry out genetic testing and typing of cancer, and it was also the hospital that did the research and development of Iressa, which is almost known by lung cancer patients; it also first discovered genetic mutations such as EGFR and ALK. The hospital also has the first and currently the world's largest proton knife radiotherapy center in the U.S. (My wife and I saw on the news that Shanghai leaders had gone abroad to inspect the construction of a proton center, and we concluded that this technology should be useful for lung cancer treatment, even if we know little about medicine).


Although there are good facilities, we also need to learn about the expert. About Dr. Azzoli, my friend in the United States helped me to know that he is the chairman of the Committee of Clinical Guidelines for Lung Cancer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the highest authority in setting international lung cancer treatment guidelines. Thus, we believe that the Lung Cancer Center of Massachusetts General Hospital is the most authoritative lung cancer treatment center in the United States.


The staff of Medebound HEALTH told me that it is costly to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment, so I can consider a special way to consult a doctor - video consultation.


Meeting with the Doctor


•June 20, 2017

This day was very special for us. After getting the first written report from Dr. Azzoli, we requested a video consultation with Dr. Azzoli, which was scheduled on this day. My wife attended the consultation for me, and my primary care doctor in China also participated in the meeting. Dr. Azzoli had already received all my medical records, latest imaging reports and pathology reports from my domestic treatment through the staff of Medebound HEALTH.


The video consultation lasted for 30 minutes, all free time for questions.


Combined with the first written report from Dr. Azzoli, my lung cancer was a high-grade cancer with high metastatic potential. Once metastatic recurrence occurred, it was basically incurable, so it was time to start radiotherapy and chemotherapy. My wife and I were hesitant to start chemotherapy because we were afraid of it, but when I heard what he had said, I immediately became more determined. Dr. Azzoli gave his chemotherapy plan. Considering my enlarged neck lymph nodes, he suggested that I must undergo both chest radiotherapy and preventive head radiotherapy.


Dr. Azzoli also gave an analysis of the applicability of the lung cancer targeted therapy and lung cancer immunotherapy to my disease, the precautions to be taken when using targeted and immune drugs, the current lung cancer clinical trials in the United States, as well as advantages and disadvantages of my participation in the US clinical trials.


Dr. Azzoli said, "Targeted lung cancer therapy is a drug therapy that works primarily on the mutated genes that cause tumors. Given the patient's condition, I think there is only a 3% to 5% chance of finding a drug target."


Dr. Azzoli said, "Immunotherapy is now being used for lung cancer. I think lung cancer immunotherapy is more effective than targeted lung cancer therapy. There is no FDA-approved immune drug for lung cancer that patients get yet. However, the results of the phase II clinical trial show that this drug is useful for lung cancer and thymic carcinoma. We have permission to use this drug for lung cancer patients in the United States."


Dr. Azzoli said, "In terms of this patient's actual case, what this patient needs now is the standard cisplatin and etoposide combination adjuvant chemotherapy; if he can undergo adjuvant chemotherapy in time, as well as radiotherapy (if applicable), then there is still a high possibility of cure. I hope this patient can get through the hard time."


With that, I began to undergo radiotherapy gradually, and I don't need to tell you more about what it was like.


•November 2017

In November, I sent my process and results of the last four months of treatment to Dr. Azzoli, and received a second written report from Dr. Azzoli. Dr. Azzoli confirmed the results of the last four months of treatment and that my tumors were showing signs of shrinkage, which indicates that the current radiotherapy plan was working and that the side effects were controllable! Thus, there is no need to make special changes, just keep a close follow-up. Dr. Azzoli encouraged me in his report that this is a constant battle and you have to persevere and believe that you will be able to win this battle.


Life is a long road and there are so many tests! But no one should give up at any time. Inadvertently, Medebound HEALTH opened a window of hope for me. By sharing my experience, I just want to let people who have the same experience as me obtain hope!


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After removing the patient's personal information, the above narrative has been agreed to be published with the patient's consent.


Medebound HEALTH continues to bring the most authoritative and advanced medical resources to Asian population. We are committed to the patient-centric virtual collaborative communication and remote consultation platform, we have connected to thousands of the top 5% of the world's leading doctors across 72 specialties in the United States. We are committed to being the messenger between global patients in need and top medical expertise in the United States, providing patients and their families with life-saving solutions and inner peace of mind. Medebound HEALTH cross-border telehealth platform makes consulting a US-based cancer doctor online convenient, fast, and easy. Patients can be assisted by both local top experts as well as US top lung cancer doctors and hospitals without having to travel.


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