From Beijing, with Love: Heartfelt Thanks from an International Patient

September 5, 2017 | by Michael Easterling

Chen-Yi-Jen Yi-Jen Chen, M.D., Ph.D.
A patient who recently came to City of Hope from his native Beijing, China, through the City of Hope Center for International Medicine (CIM) was successfully treated after not being given an optimistic prognosis in his home country.
 
He is now back in China, healthy, happy and full of gratitude for the staff at the CIM, the nurses and others on his care team, especially his physicians, Marwan G. Fakih, M.D., and Yi-Jen Chen, M.D., Ph.D. 
 
Below is letter shared by the patient. It has been translated from its original Chinese.
 
Beijing, People’s Republic of China, 23 July 2017:
I have been very lucky in life, and I have had a successful career. Still, it is said that life is not always a bed of roses.
 
Last year, I was hospitalized in Beijing after my doctors found polyps during a routine physical examination. I underwent an operation that revealed the polyps to be malignant. Devastatingly, I was told I had cancer. My chemotherapy regimen began immediately, first by taking an oral medication. I had a very intense response to it. I felt weak and uncomfortable all the time, and my leukocytes and platelets often dropped and I had to suspend the medication and begin a different treatment.
 
During this time, I had to seek medical advice as an outpatient. It was so difficult to check in. I had to wait a long time to see the physician and get the medicine I needed. I was not always met with the best attitude by my caregivers either. I was in pain every day and was counting down my days. I was certain I was finished. When I completed five months of chemotherapy, my physician was not encouraging, only telling me that “effects of the therapy are unpredictable.” His lack of confidence gave me an uneasy feeling and I made the decision to seek medical advice and care overseas.
 
I had a family member who had come to City of Hope from China to be treated, and she was very complimentary of her experience, and credits them with saving her life. She introduced me to the staff at the Center for International Medicine and City of Hope. I arrived in the United States and had appointments only a few days later. The international medicine staff made a series of considerate and careful arrangements for me that moved me very much. I was relieved of my tension and felt relaxed to be in the presence of City of Hope.
 
The hospital staff monitored me and my disease progression closely. I was scheduled for chemotherapy, radiation and physician consults regularly, and the timing was accurate within minutes. No long waiting at City of Hope. You understand that time is life.
 
Fakih-Marwan Marwan G. Fakih, M.D.
I was very happy with my physicians: Dr. Fakih oversaw my chemotherapy and Dr. Chen my radiotherapy. They both have such high standards, and they are amiable and have a very friendly attitude. My first day, when I met Dr. Fakih, we spoke for one hour, and he patiently listened to my narration of my illness and talked to me about therapeutic regimens at some length. He was not in a hurry. I did not feel rushed to be done with my appointment. He answered all my questions one by one. We determined my therapeutic regimen together.
 
On my second day at City of Hope I met Dr. Chen. Since he is from Taiwan originally, there was no communication barrier. We could talk in our native language. Dr. Chen was never a stranger to me. He was friendly and warm and greatly took away my anxiety about radiation. He encouraged me to conquer my disease and was confident that I could be cured, a statement I never received before coming to City of Hope.
 
Interestingly, I did not have the intense physical response to the chemotherapy or radiation that I did during my first course in China. Apart from minor discomfort, I felt normal. I owe my treatment and care experience to good medicine and advanced medical equipment.
 
My radiotherapy was every day, but each treatment only took a few minutes, and the staff was so kind, warm and friendly. Because of that, I never felt nervous or terrified like I had before. I received treatment Monday through Friday for a month. When complete, Drs. Fakih and Chen said they were satisfied my treatments had worked. They told me to get regular examinations back home, and told me to keep a good mood and live a happy and normal life. They assured me completely.
 
For me, my month at City of Hope was what saved my life. I wanted to share these reflections with everyone there:
  1. At City of Hope, I saw smiling faces everywhere. Your patients come first. The medical workers were patient and considerate to me always. It became very clear to me that everything you do centers around the patient. Thank you.
  2. You have very high standards of care. The doctors and staff are very capable, skilled and considerate.
  3. I was dazzled at the access to advanced equipment. The instruments and devices are so much more advanced than we have in China. That greatly enhanced my disease treatment, made for less pain, and, ultimately, as overseen by my care team, enabled my cure.
  4. Additionally, the access to the latest medications on the market, some of which I understand are created at City of Hope, allowed my disease to be conquered.
The United States, and City of Hope especially, is making irreplaceable contributions to human beings around the world. I wanted to tell my story and give my gratitude. I dedicate this letter and my thoughts to everyone at City of Hope. I love you all.
 
The author of this note requested that we not use his name, but that we communicate his thanks and appreciation anonymously. 
 
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