It was a very inspirational and informative talk at the January 25 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) when long time active Member Judith Edmonds announced that “I’m baaack!”. Judith, last year, had to resign from her PCEC Governing Board position and activities due to a need to undergo blood cancer treatment in Bangkok. She was advised that without treatment, her life expectancy was 5 months – it has now been 5 months and the PCEC was happy to welcome back Judith with the cancer not only in remission, but feeling more healthy as some other medical problems have also been alleviated.
Judith described her “journey” to her fellow Expats including initial misdiagnosis. She became ill in February 2022 suffering severe back pain as well as stomach pain. She visited several doctors regarding her symptoms and underwent various diagnostic tests as well as being prescribed different medications.
By mid-March, she said the pain was unbearable for which she was given a morphine injection and told to go back to see the orthopedic doctor if the pain continued. In May she again saw orthopedic doctors. She had an MRI which showed 4 fractures, but the doctor did not suggest anything different from what she had been doing such as no exercise except to walk for thirty minutes every day. She chose another orthopedic surgeon who took back x-rays and said her calcium levels were extremely low but no further tests required as he had seen the MRI results. He recommended three months rest at home, no exercise, take a calcium supplement and come back every month for an x-ray and to see him.
To complicate matters, in June she was experiencing vertigo and had contracted shingles. Meanwhile, she was also continuing to see a doctor at a Pattaya clinic who was at a loss as to what to do as she became more and more tired along with the vertigo and shingles. By August, she realized that she had never seen the MRI report. She asked for it and saw that it included the fact that a hematologic problem was present. The doctor at the clinic then did blood tests and discovered her anemia had become very bad. Consequently, he sent her to a hematologist who admitted her to the hospital for more blood tests and transfusion.
She then visited an oncologist and heard the words “multiple myeloma” [a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. These cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells.] The treatment recommendation was for chemotherapy. A treatment that Judith didn’t want to experience. However, Judith’s son who lives in Bangkok directed her to an alternative medicine clinic that was reputed to have good results. She was a little surprised when their information indicated they specialized in anti-aging treatment, but learned it referred to cells rather than beauty. Judith consulted with them, learned about their Car-T Cell therapy which has had great success.
Judith then described with the aid of slides what her treatment entailed. First, a strengthening treatment followed in October with the CAR– T Cell Therapy. This is a cancer treatment in which her T-Cells are modified in the lab to destroy cancer cells. The clinic drew 50 ml of blood and sent it to a laboratory in Canada where they added a special gene called a “Chimeric Antigen Receptor” (CAR) her T-Cells and then given to her by infusion. These Car T-Cells can identify the cancer and destroy the cancer’s cells. There were also other treatments by doctors the clinic brought in including acupuncture as well as IV’s to provide vitamins and other nutrients.
Her initial journey ended in January when blood tests showed her cancer was in remission. Even so, she still faces additional treatment. To view her presentation, visit the PCEC’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xst1JrKLne0. To learn more about her treatment and others provided by the Bangkok clinic, visit http://www.pcecnews.com/permNL/JudithCar-T-therapy-25-January-2023.pdf to view the slides which include the CAR-T Cell therapy as well as other treatments they provide.
MC Ren Lexander then mentioned some upcoming events before calling on George Wilson to conduct the Open Forum portion of the meeting where the audience comment and ask questions about Expat living in Thailand. To learn more about the PCEC, visit their website at: https://pcec.club.