Thursday, May 22, 2008

Status as of May 08...

Well, I'm still kicking... but I admit you wouldn't know it by the frequency of blog posts... It seems my last post was over 2 months ago. Sorry about that! I'll try to be a little more frequent...

First of all, I want to say that I send my very best wishes for a full recovery to Senator Kennedy and his family. As a glioma patient myself, I want let Senator Kennedy and his family know that you are in our thoughts!

And also - there really is hope! Research projects now underway at some of the major cancer centers, and at leading research universities, may be leading the way to radically better treatments! One project I know about uses nanoparticles that seek out and bond to the tumor surface to direct the full energy of a radio-frequency source to the tumor and the tumor alone. As a result, the tumor can be heated to a temperature where it is damaged or killed, without the surrounding tissue getting hot at all. Then there are other promising projectts involving genetic therapies, targeted drug delivery, and lots more. I'm really hopeful that before long, cancer will become a manageable chronic diseash, rather than the tragic disease it is today. Scientifically speaking, we are certainly living in interesting times!

If I had any advice for Sen. Kennedy (or anyone else newly diagnosed with a glioma), it would be this: to the extent possible, keep active mentally and physically, and keep on working to make this world a better place. I think the last one is very important but have hardly ever seen it mentioned as a component of recovery from disease. Sometimes it is important to get your thoughts away from your problems, and focused on those who are less fortunate than you are (yes, even though we have brain cancer, we are very fortunate indeed if we have a loving, supportive family, work that we find satisfying, and a network of real friends).

Some general advice for just about anyone, sick or well:

1. Don't spend time thinking about what might have been but wasn't. We can't control the hand of cards we are dealt, but we sure can determine how we play them!

2. Don't give in to anger. There is probably no reason you got this - it was likely a random mutation of some protein or DNA molecule somewhere in your brain... maybe you just happened to be standing in the way of the wrong gamma particle from the sun at the wrong time... It wasn't what you ate, or anything you said or did or thought. It just happened. But once it has taken an initial foothold, I do think it is possible for all of these things to combine to fight it and ideally destroy it while it is small. Exercise, a healthy diet, a genuine positive attitude, lack of stress, and good, satisfying relationships with friends and family, are all important in fighting the small cancer cells before then develop into large tumors.

3. None of us gets out of this thing we call "life" alive. We all have a finite lifespan. It is only a matter of degree that separates cancer patients from nominally "healthy" people. Of course, we want to have every precious moment that we can. But remember, every day the newspaper has stories of young people who die at the hands of other young people, or at their own hands. I think that combination of guns, cars, testosterone, and poverty is a deadly mix, and probably injures or kills more people every day than does brain cancer.

4. Don't play the "blame game". No one gave you this disease. "They" are not out to get you. Nor is it your fault or God's fault. It was just random chance, and unfortunately this time your number came up. I'm much happier with the random-chance idea, than the idea that God is "out to get me." Now that would be truly scary!