Closing In On A Killer: Cancer

I lost my mother, father, and mother-in-law to cancer. I’ve lost dear friends to cancer, and last year had my own cancer scare when I was found to have tonsillar cancer.

Blessedly, my cancer was found in time, completely encapsulated, having not spread into other areas of the throat. I was just lucky. And now I have to hope that my luck holds, and cancer won’t come looking for me for a good many years to come.

The scourge of cancer first came into my life when I was very young. My mother had a malignant brain tumor. She died five months after diagnosis. Back then, over thirty years ago, I remember people saying that in ten years they would have a cure for cancer.

Of course that didn’t happen, and it hasn’t happened in the thirty years since. But now, as a health editor, in reading the increasing flow of daily stories about scientific research on new genetic cancer markers, cancer inhibitors, and a variety of other advances, for the first time in my life I’m beginning to think that cancer’s reign of terror may finally be coming to an end.

That’s a remarkable thought because cancer has been with us for a very long time, well before we had a name for the many deadly faces of this disease. Case in point, take some time to look at this page on Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070418163713.htm

It’s like falling into a maze of stories, and this is about advances in breast cancer alone.

Probably the lack of news coverage in the general media is because most of these cancer research and treatment advances involve some pretty complicated concepts. In a news world that thrives on 10-second sound bites and 60-second news stories, genetic markers yielding the secrets of breast cancer’s origins, is a more detailed story than most media outlets are looking to report.

But if like me you are someone who has seen cancer close-up and personal, and you look forward to its demise with great anticipation, you should take an hour and float around Science Daily, Science Now, and dozens of other sites that are filling to the brim with stories on fighting and defeating cancer.

It’s like that one-thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that you and two friends started on a rainy weekend and every now and then went back to. One day you realize that the pieces left on the table not connected to the bigger picture are far fewer than the ones you have finally put into place. With that recognition your enthusiasm grows as you can finally envision the long awaited conclusion to this massive puzzle. And that’s what you sense when you look at the research now coming in. What use to be one report a month, than one a week, is now five advances a day. As the pieces fall more quickly into place and the end of this long battle is finally in view.

Don’t doubt that tens of thousands more will die before this long fight is over. But countless millions will live many more years than they could have ever had hoped to because of what is happening at this very moment in a thousand different research centers scattered across the globe. Clearly there is a brightening light at the end of this very long tunnel and for once it’s not the headlight of a speeding train.

Martin Brown
SMW Science Editor

SMW Health Articles of Interest:

– The Environment and Breast Cancer: What’s the Connection?

– The Sexually Healthy Single Woman

– Vaginal Health: Is Everything All Right Down There?

Healthy Grief: When Death Steals Your Love

– Single Women and Health Insurance: Between a Rock and a Hard Place