Cancer: The Master of All Maladies – Is it Possible to Find a Universal Cure ???

January 22nd, 2013 by Michael Tabor
After being diagnosed with cancer, one feels horrifyingly frightened and unspeakably alone and alienated; imagine the milli – second before the big bang occurred type of loneliness or if you happen to have a monotheistic worldview, dwell on the utterly terrifying concept of being GOD – you know the Christian God – barrenly and existentially alone.
Today I read an article from the science journal ‘Nature Chemistry’ which stated in a nutshell that scientists have discovered a “quadruple helix” which may suggest a clue as to the root cause of how and why cancer cells proliferate so prodigiously. Since cancer is “viral – like” in terms of our body and white blood cells not recognizing a foreign invader and the fact that every cancer is different, many oncologists are skeptical about whether or not they will ever find a universal cure. Just think of cancer as a terrorist type of beast that hijacks your normally – functioning cells and tells your DNA in essence to “follow my orders – I’m your new captain” , then grows wildly(resulting in sickening tumors) and ultimately the satanic beast sucks every last bit of life, to the marrow and until it kills you – the host. But, today’s announcement has given us some hope.

Cancer in this country and around the world is so widespread, that the saying “If you live long enough, eventually you will get some form of malignancy” holds a lot of weight once you look at the statistics. 600,000 Americans will die of cancer this year and more than 7 million people around the world will succumb to this most deadly disease. We have made tremendous strides and have come a remarkably long way in terms of 1. Diagnosing the disease (get your annual checkup) and 2.Treating cancer, the 3 major ways: a. surgery b. chemotherapy or c. radiation or a combination of all three, if you catch it early enough.
One of the nastiest types of cancer is acute leukemia, which is really cancer of the white blood cells (the very cells that are in normal situations, supposed to protect you from illness) – one nurse I can recall her saying that “when a patient has acute leukemia, you are always on super alert, because being a blood malignancy, even a paper cut is an emergency. I bring this up, because many years ago in the ‘90s, a good friend and colleague of mine lost his daughter to Leukemia and even though I have not heard from nor seen Ed L. (the father) in a long time, tears well up and I have to immediately distract myself so I won’t become profoundly depressed.

This is a short essay so I can’t elaborate on anything other than the fact that this discovery of a “quadruple – helix” is incredibly exciting stuff. Without getting into medical jargon (+ I’m not an oncologist) this makes me feel quite optimistic, because just think – what makes cancer such a Goddamn formidable disease is that we CAN’T isolate the healthy cells from the malignant ones so whatever form of treatment (if you get it in time) you choose you invariably are going to kill healthy tissue as well (collateral damage is a useful metaphor).

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? There isn’t a person alive today, who hasn’t personally been affected or who hasn’t known someone who has died of cancer. I know it’s unpleasant, but the obvious full medical exam is in order and when you’re my age (almost 50) i.e. the finger in the butt or colonoscopy and for women – please don’t put off mammograms and pap smears. Have a long, happy, and healthy life everyone.

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2 Responses to “Cancer: The Master of All Maladies – Is it Possible to Find a Universal Cure ???”

  1. Michael Tabor Says:

    I must include this – from Siddhartha Mukherjee, who has written a book I am currently reading, entitled ‘The Emperor of All mAladies’ A Biography of Cancer – Dr. Mukherjee asks urgent questions such as: How old is cancer ? What are the roots of our battle against the disease ? Where are we exactly, in the “war” on cancer ? How did we get here ? Is there an end ? and finally, Can this war even be won ?

    These are Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s words (this comment) not mine. Dr. Mukherjee is an oncology Physician and researcher. He’s also a professor of Medicine at Columbia.

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    Unlike us, or to be more precise, the trillions of cells of which we are made, cancer cells are immortal and DON’T DIE. As long as there is a host, bottom line: cancer is better, faster and more adaptive than our cells are. To quote Dr. Mukherjee “they are more perfect versions of ourselves.” The philosophic implications of this statement and the notion that perhaps immortality is not such a good thing when viewed from this particular lens and perspective, is something with which I have been personally struggling and with which I have for years been trying to come to terms.

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