Cancer – 2500 year journey

Recently, finished reading a book on Biography of cancer – The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Its a fixating book which travels through the history of the disease and how its transformed through the eyes of Patients, Doctors and Science itself. Its a must read to understand the evolution of the disease – though very detailed medically and requires lot of patience and time to journey through the book, but a rewarding journey.

When i first started reading this book in 2011, i could not complete as it was emotionally challenging to go through them as my dad was suffering from the same aside. Then, i kinda lost in time and reading habit. When i want to come back to resurrect the journey in 2017, i couldn’t choose any other book. But emotionally strong this time and have completed the book with so much of reminiscent of memories as distant past so near but so far.

The author did his fellowship in oncology from Massachusetts General Hospital and his extensive research is displayed in the chronological events unfolded in the history of the disease.

When i look back retrospectively, the book took me from 500BC to present day and vigorously show case how the physicians, scientists, oncologists and patients and their families suffered, resolved, zealous, sacrificed and hoped to understand and ultimately to cull the disease in all forms.

The journey starts with breast cancer observed in Persian Queen – Atossa and she cut off her breast with a greek slave. Probably the first surgery to treat cancer but looking back an act more of agony than treatment. With surgery shaping up in eighteenth century, so does the view to treat cancer. William Hasted promoting radical mastectomy which removes breast tissues profoundly and anything beneath and beyond. With surgery being a limited options for localised and non-invasive cancers, a need for other options erupted.

Sidney Farber, considered father of chemotherapy tried with anti folate drugs against leukemia in children is the first to see some remissions, even though little but paved the way for more…

Lot of scientists, physicians, chemist looking for drugs in early nineteenth century tried various options from die factory to war zones (mustard and nitrogen gas bombs). Combination drugs emerged like VAMP and STAMP to fight against cancer cells as the belief was more and multitude drugs can do better than single drugs.

Marie curie invention of Radium developed radiations therapy to treat and shrink the size of tumors. Then the combination of surgery, adjuvant chemotherapy with radiation was hybrid option often prescribed for localised cancers.

With more advanced technologies and proliferation of pharmaceutical technology companies like Gentech, new generation of target therapies evolved with the discovery of oncogenes (src, ras etc) which helped to develop drugs to kill the cancer cells than normal cells.

Now, we have myriad of options like Surgery, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and radiations and combinations of them. But, still cancer outgrows and defeat us in this war of 2500 years…

Its perpetual war where the humans and the disease keep running against each other beating each other…

Hopefully, when you grow up, we might have better treatment options with paradigm shift in discoveries and inventions…

Hope is the best medicine!

 

 

Inception

The idea of myself writing (or blogging or even ranting to be more accurate) happened like a spark in busy morning while waiting for traffic lights turning green). Though, it got planted in my brain at that instant, i wanted to analyse why it happened and what are the factors leading me up to that…

Lately, i was being bothered with the way my time flies without able to collect some moments as fond memories or at least credit myself for the time, being spent. I guess, its a common regret among my peer groups as well (Mid-30’s, nuclear family with kid(s), career, city commute etc). What’s even more concerning was my son was growing pretty fast and i was sure before i blink he would be in school and will keep growing…

So, i was thinking what can i do to be in charge of my time (at least few hrs) as mostly it controls me 🙂

Thats why it occurred, What if i start writing about various topics with the view that one day my son will read them and it would be his dad’s letters written in past for him to read in future time. I was quite thrilled with the thought! Even, it would be exciting to read them say after 10 or 15 years by myself! So thats my idea of writing…

There are some benefits with this:

  • Writing isn’t easy, you ask any writer. We may have zillion things cooking up in our head, but the moment we want to put it in paper, it takes hours! Writing always helps to improve clarity of content and articulation.
  • Nobody can generate anything out of vacuum. Reading and lots of reading need to happen to write about anything. So, thats the biggest benefit!
  • There is continuous search to pick the next topic. So, we keep thinking and observe keenly around us.
  • Above all, no outside pressure, as i am addressing just one person (that too my son) and not infinite internet users. Its my thoughts and personal views to be shared!

My alter ego sarcastically told me to pick a diary and write if its so personal…

True, but i m living in technology era where its so easy to write/compose in computer and of course the content would never be lost as it would be backed up in multiple servers. Also, i have no idea at this moment, how this could change and i could become a mainstream blogger – so all options are open!

So, I m ready!!!

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Just for my future remembrance, this idea happened at 18-Apr-2017, around 10 AM, Yemalur junction in Old Airport Road, Bangalore.