Oz After - Stomach Cancer Personal Story (Photo: Courtesy of those photographed)
Oz after Rehovot didn't think it would come to him either.
For years he worked in the banking field but at the age of 45 he decided to fulfill his childhood dream, left his job and started working as a chef.
"It was always something I wanted to do but I didn't dare. In the end I fulfilled my dream - to feed people."
But precisely then, for an unknown reason, his health condition deteriorated, he began to wake up in the mornings dripping with sweat and suffer from frequent nausea and vomiting.
"I lost my appetite, and I felt nervous all the time," said After, "my father forced me to go to the doctor and have tests done. Before that, I hardly ever visited a health fund."
After a visit to the family doctor, Oz was sent for a series of routine blood tests that did not reveal anything unusual.
"After a week, in the middle of the day, I felt terrible and horrible, I could barely function and my family doctor insisted that I go to the emergency room as soon as possible," he recalled, "after several tests in the emergency room and imaging scans,
Violent breeding with low survival rates
Cancer is a complex, scary and shocking disease.
However, when it comes to stomach cancer, the challenge is already much more significant.
This is a relatively rare disease, which is common mainly among men over the age of 70. The disease is common mainly in Asia and in countries such as Japan, Mongolia and southern Korea, apparently as a result of increased consumption of smoked fish that increases the risk of disease.
Additional risk factors are excess weight, smoking and also the Helicobacter bacterium.
Unfortunately, stomach cancer is considered a very aggressive tumor.
The survival rate of patients five years from the date of diagnosis is only about 30 percent.
In many cases, the disease is discovered at an advanced stage after the tumor has metastasized to other organs in the body, therefore, the patients' chances of recovery are not high.
"When I got the news, I felt like the sky had fallen. What about me and stomach cancer? I'm only forty-five years old and it's a cancer for older people," said Efter, "The doctors couldn't explain the reason why I got sick and what my chances of overcoming the cancer are."
After said that he used to suffer from obesity, but he always made sure to exercise.
"I'm not a sick person, I've never even visited a hospital. It's so ironic that a chef who feeds so many people would actually get stomach cancer."
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Six months of difficult and intensive treatments, which did not help
After the diagnosis, Aftar began a series of chemotherapy treatments that were difficult and intense.
Over the course of six months, he underwent 25 rounds of treatment.
"It's not an easy experience at all, to say the least. What helped me cope was black humor," he recalls, "My family members and friends were also very helpful during that entire period. Unfortunately, every few months they discovered something else that worsened the prognosis. Even after the treatments Chemotherapy, the tumor did not disappear and the doctors explained to me that the situation is still complex."
After going through a long series of chemotherapy treatments, Oz's doctor recommended him an experimental treatment called Enharto - a drug that is generally intended for breast cancer patients.
"My tumor has a high expression of a protein called HER2, so the doctor said it was worth a try."
"Every few months they discovered something else that worsened the prognosis."
A person undergoing chemotherapy (Photo: ShutterStock)
Oz took the medicine three times and suddenly there was an improvement in his condition.
The tumor in the stomach stopped growing, and the metastases in the liver shrank.
The big problem is that the drug is not included in the health basket for patients with stomach cancer, and is therefore not available to all patients.
"When I worked at the bank, I took out private health insurance and this is my great luck," says After, "I contacted the insurance company and to my delight they approved my treatment. Without the insurance I would have had to pay over NIS 50,000 for each treatment and in fact to date I have had to raise about NIS 150,000 Shekels. This is an amount that cannot be met in any way. I hope that this year the drug basket committee will include this treatment, otherwise people will die. I am living proof that the drug simply saves lives."
"Every day that he receives the medicine, we see an improvement in his quality of life," says After's doctor, Dr. Ofer Margalit, an oncologist specializing in the gastrointestinal tumor unit at the Oncology Institute at Sheba Tel Hashomer Medical Center, "a few months ago he had a vessel fracture.
A 45-year-old guy, who barely moved and was lying in bed most of the day.
What gives me strength as a doctor is the fact that there is an option for patients to improve their quality of life.
In such circumstances, in difficult cancer cases, my contribution is to give patients like Oz hope - even if there is still a long way to go before we can see significant breakthroughs."