Agus: There is always Hope


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In the bustling city of Jakarta, Agus, a devoted family man, has always instilled in his children the belief in living life to the fullest. With a loving wife and children by his side, Agus embarked on a journey marked by unwavering hope and resilience, despite his battle with colorectal cancer. Today, we'll take you through the inspiring story of Agus as he continues his fight against cancer, offering a glimpse into his life in the context of Indonesia. It's a story of lesson he learned, the strength, joy, and the enduring power of hope that binds Agus, his wife, and their children together during his treatment.

  1. Can you share when you first experienced the symptoms and how long it took until you were diagnosed with colorectal cancer?
    Two years before diagnosis with colorectal cancer, I have complaints of constipation and had blood of stools. As I speak to health provider they told me it could be because of hemorrhoids. I also complaint of diarrhea and, flu-like symptoms, loss of weight like typhoid fever. Previous, almost for 10 years I always got typhoid every two years since I was young. Maybe there's a possible association of typhoid and colorectal cancer. I also got antibiotics drug for a while and my symptoms didn't get any better.

  2. What tests did you undergo during this period of unknown constipation and blood in stools?
    As I was also prescribed antibiotic medication, I underwent a CEA test which yielded a result of 3 µg/L. This result left my doctor uncertain about the possibility of colorectal cancer, prompting them to recommend a colonoscopy. Following the colonoscopy, the doctor identified polyps and conducted a biopsy, eventually confirming the presence of colorectal cancer. Subsequently, I was referred to a surgeon for surgery, but due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the operation had to be postponed until May 2021, a delay of three months.

    Following the operation, I was informed that I had reached Stage 3B CRC, which necessitated the removal of a 25cm portion of my colon, resulting in the use of a stoma. Unfortunately, three weeks post-surgery, the stoma became infected, requiring medical treatment and additional surgical procedures to establish an anastomosis.

    In order to assess the success of the anastomosis, a CT scan with contrast was performed. Following this, I underwent a 12-cycle chemotherapy regimen administered every two weeks, which involved the use of 5FU, oxaliplatin, and leucovorin for a duration of 52 hours.

  3. What was your experience after the operation for colorectal cancer?
    After the operation, I used stoma, and the doctor suggested to do chemotherapy. I continued to do chemo until April 2022. After chemo finished, I check CEA again and got and got estimated. 3 µg/L again. Then at that point of time I got hernia, and have to undergo surgery again. At May 2023 I felt constipation, stools blood again and check CEA but it showed 2 µg/L, and CT scan didn't show anything but I still complain about stools of blood so did colonoscopy again and it showed the cancer polyp near the surgery sites. I still struggle with incontinence but no problem with eating

  4. Do you believe that communities and sharing your journey can support you on this path?
    Absolutely. Sharing one's experience when facing illness not only raises awareness but also acts like a prayer. When you share your journey, people often offer their support and prayers. I'm part of a colorectal cancer community, but I wish there were more educational resources about CRC. Currently, our community primarily provides moral support, and I hope to see an expansion of educational materials about the disease.

  5. Have you ever been informed about colorectal cancer screening?
    No, I've never been informed about colorectal cancer screening. I'm only aware of general health screenings for heart or routine blood tests. As for colorectal screening, it was never mentioned to me. In the case of BPJS, certain colonoscopies and PET scans are not covered. The insurance only designates specific hospitals, which often results in long wait times. In my company or insurance coverage, colonoscopies or screening tests are not covered either. I wish that colorectal cancer screening was included, as early detection could significantly reduce the cost of treatment compared to advanced stages.

  6. What other lessons would you like to share?
    In dealing with cancer, I've heard many stories of people passing away, but I've also encountered individuals with 25+ years ahead of them. My takeaway is that it's just a saying, and we can choose what we listen to. We should keep our spirits high and not overly restrict our diets. While it's essential to follow healthcare professionals' advice, it's also crucial to maintain balance. Don't give up, do your best to get better. Despite the side effects of treatment, I've learned not to dwell on them. I am surrounded by a loving wife, children, and family who motivate me to continue treatment.

Agus's Message

"Early detection is vital when you reach your 50's. If you notice blood in your stools, consider a colonoscopy, and don't rely solely on CEA markers. Don't give up and do your best to get better!"

Interviewed by: Arcita Pramudita

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