Wednesday, 7 April 2010

What, alternative medicines???

"Encik, sebelum ni encik gunting rambut sendiri sampai botak ka?" [Sir, did u previously cut your hair to bald?]

"Eh, macammana awak boleh tahu?" [How did you know?]

"Rambut encik tak rata. Kenapa encik nak bagi botak rambut? Tak sesuai untuk encik." [Your hair is not growing back evenly. Why have you decided to go bald? I don't think it suits you.]

I could only mustered a smile to the question. Shall I go down the long, winding explanation of having gone through chemotherapy for a year and a half, or make this conversation simple and not less comfortable? I replied,

"Saja nak tukar imej la bos," [Well, I thought I could do with a bit of a change.]


For the next half an hour, I was reminded again of that one-year-and-a-half experience of going through chemotherapies. Memories most of which were obviously bitter, of dealing with the after effects of the cytotoxic drugs.

Chemotherapies do not necessarily work in all cases, but they are undeniably the hospital's current mainstay of treatment along with radiotherapy and surgery in the fight against cancer.

How can I ever forget the times when I started to vomit straight away the moment one of the chemotherapy drug was injected into my veins.

Or when I would spend hours in the bathroom, cleaning up my falling hairs from clogging up the plug hole.

Or the time when I lost 7 kilograms within just 5 days when I was in the hospital, due to severe mouth ulcers as a result of the side effects of one of the chemotherapies.

Or when I was battling for my own life when I had a septic shock whilst having the high dose chemotherapy, that they even considered to transfer me to the High dependency unit (equivalent of Intensive Care Unit or ICU that most are quite familiar of).

Those moments were tough. Thinking of it again, I genuinely believed that the only reason I managed to persevere through all those experience was due to the constant supplications of my family members, friends, as well as those who prayed for me although hardly knowing me.

1. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "Three supplications will not be rejected (by Allah (SWT)), the supplication of the parent for his child, the supplication of the one who is fasting, and the supplication of the traveler." [al-Bayhaqi, at-Tirmidhi - Sahih]

2. The prophet (SAW) said: 'There is no believing servant who supplicates for his brother in his absence where the angels do not say, 'the same be for you'' [Muslim]


I am currently still undergoing non-conventional treatments in my battle against Hodgkin's lymphoma. I have decided that my body needs a break from further intensive chemotherapies.

Coming from a medical background myself, it is certainly not easy to convince myself to not commence on further conventional medicines (ie chemo, radiotherapy, etc). I was even questioned by some people, most of which were understandably doctors themselves, about the decision I've made, which they felt could possibly be detrimental.

But I asked myself time and time again; It's not that I've not tried the conventional medicines. Chemotherapies were what I had for the last year and a half, nothing else. But my body just didn't seem to response at all to the drugs, rather the cancer seems to be worsening by time.

So does that mean that I am giving up on chemotherapies? No, certainly not. But I just feel that this is the best time that I try on something else, an alternative to the conventional medicines.

The thing about alternative medicines are that they probably don't show benefits as immediately as chemotherapies, which can be frustrating especially for people eager to find quick cure to their sufferings. They take time to work, and people undergoing alternative medicines really need to be patient. But understandably some people with terminal cancer really do not have the luxury of time, and therefore waiting for the medicines to work is just a torture.

Alternative medicine : Do they really have a place in the cure of cancer?

I hope people can comprehend that it is not an easy decision for me to commence on alternative medicines rather than well-known conventional treatments. What more they are rarely supported by adequate scientific proofs (ie medical journals, etc) but rather just hearsays. Will it work? How long should I wait? It is not a position you would want to be in, wouldn't you?

But the best I can do at the moment is to BELIEVE that for every disease, Allah has provided its cure. So we MUST seek for it with as much effort as possible. Not to sit down and despair about my predicaments. That will not do any good, neither will it cure my disease. Jangan mengaku kalah dengan kata-kata syaitan.

At least, its comforting to listen to what my grandma told me when I visited her last weekend,

"Penyakit ni biasalah, dia datang macam angin ribut, tapi dia pergi macam semut!" [It's typical of a disease, that they afflict you as quick as a thunder, but will disappear as slow as an ant]

How true can you be dear Grandma.


joegrimjow said...

like grandma thought!

skrg ni cuba je apa apa alternatif, kimo ke, perubatan islam ke, alternative medicine ke apa2 je la, yang penting 'war' ni kena guna banyak method. selagi terdaya, selagi itu mencuba

doa sentiasa kepada mas!

psss : cepat tak ku komen? hehe

D said...

no matter what, believe in Him, not the treatment - be it drugs or alternatives. I pray that all be eased for you...

green said...

yeah, maybe you can try.
i hope u will get well..
keep fighting!

Anonymous said...

Totally different from mine. Doctor takde kata what the last treatment ke?. I mean, mcm saya did chemo for 4cycle then buat BMT(Bone Marrow Transplant). After BMT dah takde chemo2 dah. Ok, maybe memang lain lah kot.

Anyway, if doctr kata bole try cara lain such as take herba or anything then why not try that way. Mcm saya doc mmg kasi warning supaya tak ambil cara lain.

Zamzam is the best! kalu nak kat sini senang jugak rasanya nak dptkan air zamzam. Let me know if you need anything ok.

And KEEP FIGHTING! sepak jauh2 syaitan yg dtg kacau. hehe

Siti Rahmah said...

conventional or alternative, only Allah will cure :) it's the effort that counts

maybe you (and the doctors who doubted you) want to read 'living proof, a medical mutiny' an autobiography by michael gearin-tosh who opt for alternative medicine for his multiple myeloma

assalamualaikum to your parents :)

B said...

dear bro
u don't need to justify yourself to your medical colleagues, it's your life not theirs

people of the medical profession still has got a lot to learn about HEALTH, although they already know a lot about DISEASES

am a dr myself...

iman said...

all the best brother Mas.

Seriously u r so tough..iAllah cuba lah mana2 perubatan, herbs ni is a great medicine actually.

hope u cure fast.amen.

sakeenah said...

ilmu Allah itu sememangnya luas. Apa yang pakar2 perubatan tahu cuma sedikit dari ilmu Allah. Selagi belum bertemu rahsia Allah,jangan mudah mengalah. And then, jangan lah kita terlalu meletakkan kepercayaan kepada perubatan moden kerana boleh jadi syirik juga sebab kita terlalu percaya kepada perubatan tu lebih pada kita percaya kepada kekuasaan Allah. Nauzubillah.

Anonymous said...

doa sentiasa pada mas..
kuatkan semangat..

yatibahar said...

Salam Afzal,
I agree with B, after all, we are our own doctor and we know what's the best for our own body. I have no regrets in choosing alternative, the effect might be slow but as long as I lead a good life, good appetite, good sleep, can do whatever I want and can go wherever I please, Alhamdulillah. The important thing is whatever alternative we choose, we must believe that it is working. A quote from a self-healing book that I'm currently reading "cancer and indeed all diseases are psychosomatic". Set in our mind that the disease will be cured and it will be cured insya'Allah...

Keep on fighting!

K Yati

Mas Afzal said...

I hope I've not mislead people into thinking that I have doubts over conventional medicine. I certainly don't, in fact, it is the mainstay of treatment in human being's illness.

I just think alternative medicines should be given more room in modern medicine, as adjuncts to conventional treatments.

PakTam said...

Assalamualaikum wm.


The fact that you are into alternative medication in itself is another dugaan Allah SWT in the multiplicity of all the challenges. Alternative medicine - for a medical practitioner or soon to-be! The fact is, Afzal just completed medical studies and of course eager to put all the knowledge into practice, just about to... tapi mengalihkan tumpuan pada perubatan alternatif pulak. What are the odds! Dugaan Allah SWT terhadap hambanya berbeza-beza.


~ PakTam ~

Anonymous said...


The fact is, some of the mainstream, well-researched medicine of today were "alternative and complimentary medicine" of yesterday...

May Allah give you complete cure, amin.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
muhammadthoriq said...

walau ape jnis perubatan yg mas cuba,Allah juga yg menyembuhkan.
moge usaha & ikhtiar mas selama ni menampakkan hasil yg +ve.
may Allah bless you...=)

p/s-sori sgt2 sbb x dpt jumpe mas wlupon rumah mas x jauh dr bngi ktika berada di msia br2 ni.mas pon ade hal sendiri mase berkelapangan,iA kite berjumpe cuti summer nnt.

uchnanabanana said...


I personally think tht theres nothing wrong with complementary/alternative medicines, the name itself pun complementary med it shld like complement the modern med modalities. Im quite fortunate really to hv sum of the components of complementary med bein taught in our medical school (this is the first time i act acknowledge it sbb all those time pg lectures pun ikhlas tak ikhlas je sebenarnye LOL). i think the future of the so called integrative-medicine is rather promising. the most important is that we nd have faith in Him cause after all He is the only one tht can cure our illness kan. i am amazed w d strength uve gained goin thru all these. masyaAllah may Allah reward u better.

It occurred to me just recently how we often neglect this one blessing of His, our health. just a few days ago my bro was diagnosed w papillary ca during the thyroidectomy itself cause the clinical assessment concluded multinodular goitre so they did total thyroidectomy instead of subtotal. tho it has good prognostic value, still it's cancer. my mum is slowly trying to switch our everyday-meals to a more healthy organic-full meals. hope it goes well tho:)

may Allah aids you in seeking for the best treatment, byk2 istikhara insyaAllah u'll do fine.


Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

PakTam - I guess going through this whole experience really has been a blessing in disguise PakTam. At least I really know how it feels like to have a Ct Scan, or bone marrow biopsy, or PET scan, and the list goes on... =)

Anonymous - A very good point indeed. Can't agree more, a medicine that brings pessimism today might just be life-saving in the future.

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Thoriq - Sorry akhi, kebetulan memang minggu ko nak lawat tu aku ada macam-macam kerja pulak. Sayangnya tak dapat jumpa! Kirim salam kawan-kawan di Sheffield.

Husna - I hope things go well with your brother, I did notice some of the pictures of your brother via your FB account. If there's anything at all you think I can be of help, pls2 do let me know. More than willing to lend a hand. Thanks Husna!

zatil hidayah said...

salam akhi. just knowing ur blog through my little sis who currently studying medict in Egypt.
Hopefully ur faith always there, He knows the best for u.. and us.
wishing u all the best.

luqmanul84 said...

never give up as your x-housemates in 42 filey st always raise their hands and say a pray for you mas afzal.

mimosa said...

Andai diri terasa LEMAH, bangunlah MUNJAT pada Allah dengan izin-Nya, yang LEMAH dipandang GAGAH, yang SEDIH di pandang CERIA, yang RESAH menjadi TENANG, sedikit PENGOBANAN selamanya TERASA... ...Adakalanya DIA memberi sebelum sempat kita meminta, kerana DIA mengerti keperluan hamba-hamba-Nya, adakalanya DIA mengambil semula sebelum sempat kita bersedia kerana DIA ingin menguji keimanan hamba-hamba-Nya..."

AiniL said...

I also think there's nothing wrong with alternative medicine. I'm a student in natural product chemistry. My project is on searching bioactive compounds as inhibitors for protein kinases and phosphatases involved in signal transduction in cancer. What my friends and I do is, we screen for plants that might have this bioactive compounds. How do we find those plants? One of the method is thru ethnobotany survey. Some folks medicine do have this anticancer props. Even some of conventional medicine do have bioactive compounds from plants and other microorganisms ;)

Mas Afzal Masarudin said...

Dear Ainil,

It'll be interesting if you can share some insights into your current study. It is quite difficult to find in any journals evidences to support the benefits of herbs in treating cancer.

Anonymous said...

Salam Bro, Besides trying alternative medcines cuba lah amal kan Ayat 33. Semoga diredhai Allah swt .

Anonymous said...

Ada satu perubatan islam kat gombak @, semuanya gunakan ayat2 al-quran..cubalah..mana tau kan.ayat2 al-quran sendiri merupakan penawar pada berbagai penyakit.wallahualam.Allah yg bagi dugaan pada siapa yg Dia kasihi.Doa saya, semuga Afzal dikurniakan kesabaran yg tinggi dan bertambahnya iman.ameen.
-sis ina-

AiniL said...

What happen is among thousands of extracts screened, only few are potential as anticancer agent. It is easier to find antibacterial especially those inhibiting gram-positive bacteria. It is quite hard to find bioactive compound that act as anticancer agent. That is why there are not many journals published on herbs in cancer treatment. I have been screening for more than one year for inhibitors against PP1, MKK1 and MSG5 pathways (representing protein kinase and phosphatases). I only manage to get few toxic extracts against those 3 screening systems, most gave negative results. I'm trying to separate the extracts from its toxic part. It is still an ongoing study.

There are many stages to follow before a compound (from plant/microbe extracts)can be said as an anticancer compound or before it could be released to public. The isolation, separation process might not take that long. But what made the delay is the clinical trials. If I'm not mistaken, it might take up to 20 years before a medicine containing that bioactive compound(s) to be released to the market.

In reality, alternative medicine currently sold as herbs in the market is still in its original form (those plants still look as plants except in dried form). Therefore, the concentration of the bioactive compounds contained might differ from the actual concentration needed in certain treatment.

I believe that folks medicine do contain bioactive compound(s),and my team and I are trying our best to scientifically prove it.

Anonymous said...


An interesting fact

The term ‘CAM’ Comlementary and Alternative Medicine has been defined by Eisenberg* and colleagues in the nineties as ‘those interventions neither taught widely at US medical schools nor generally available in US hospitals’

*Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL, et al. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990–1997: results of a follow-up national survey. JAMA (1998) 280:1569–1575

Nor Fadzlina Nawi said...

Wise grandma :-D

Hang on there...