Saturday, November 9, 2013

Week Two of Gratitude Everlasting – Day 9


Pre-dawn and still draped in my comfortable sleepy fog, I began to mull over what I was mindfully grateful for today. Quickly I found my topic du jour and began writing the details out in my head, quite pleased with the result.

And then I hopped out of bed and stumbled to the coffee maker that had graciously already brewed the morning’s first pot. By the time I opened my computer to check the latest world events and begin this month’s daily documentation of gratitude, I had forgotten my topic.

I had not only forgotten Every. Single. Word. of my entire post, I had forgotten the basis on which I had mentally written it.

Thank you Tamoxifen brain.

And then I read this article: “Researchers Discover NewDriver of Breast Cancer.”
Which began with: “A team of researchers at UT Southwestern has found that as cholesterol is metabolized, a potent stimulant of breast cancer is created -- one that fuels estrogen-receptor positive breast cancers, and that may also defeat a common treatment strategy for those cancers.”

Day 9 – November 9th – Today I am incredibly grateful for clinical and academic researchers

Research saves lives. But the process can be slow.

My mother’s cancer is estrogen positive. My cancer is estrogen positive. After having my breast cut off and some lymph nodes, I started a daily regimen of endocrine therapy designed to starve cancer of the estrogen that fuels its growth. Since I am pre-menopausal, the drug of choice is Tamoxifen.

I hate taking Tamoxifen.

I’ve always been averse to popping any kind of pill but this one is particularly annoying causing “medically induced menopause” accompanied by moodiness and severe brain farts.

What makes the drug therapy more annoying is the knowledge that it is NOT a cure or a sure-fire preventative against recurrence or metastasis.

But currently it is the best damn weapon we’ve got and I’m glad to have something in my cache against cancer. Thank you researchers.

And now the men and women of research have brought us one step closer to finding a more comprehensive way to prevent cancer from coming back by figuring out something else cancer likes for dinner. And, as GI Joe once said, “Knowing is half the battle.”

The other half will be to figure out how to eliminate or limit this cholesterol metabolite (27-hydroxycholesterol or 27HC) from the equation.

Whether in a clinical or academic research role, the work is always tedious and often thankless. I used to go with my father to the lab when he was getting a graduate degree at Bowling Green State University. While I was fascinated with the pipetting, the culturing, the comparisons of experimental trays to the control trays, the long hours of documentation and often inconclusive results were far less exciting.

Today I can’t remember what I originally intended to be grateful for yet that escapade has led me to perhaps a deeper gratitude for clinical and academic research that I can credit my life to.

We all can’t be researchers but, if so inclined we can help fund them. However, before you open your PayPal account or pull out your checkbook, please consider looking up your preferred organization on http://www.charitynavigator.org. This site gives the lowdown on how much of your donation goes to the actual cause versus administrative or other costs.

NOTE: If you'd like to spend the month in a similar state of gratitude, you can play along with me here in the comments section or check out KindSpring.org to sign up for their 21-day Challenge that began on November 7th.