Enough w/ the hair all over the house. Today Brigitte gave the only haircut she feels able to perform; the buzzcut. At first, she tried to scissor along the back to straighten the line. It was soon obvious that ALL the hair was going, not just along the line of the death beam. So at that point I went inside, got my nosehair clipping tool (oh, you’re not 35 yet?), put on the hair cutting attachment, and went back out in the backyard for some REAL cuttin’. THAT is something my wife knows how to do.
So, I now have a new hairstyle. It’s about 1mm long on the top, back, and sides. Brigitte says my skull don’t look bad. Pretty nice, in fact. And she’s not even my mother! Another indicator of her love. I expect those 1mm pieces to go away in the coming week.
Right now my my #1 discomfort is taste; it’s shot to hell by my own saliva. It’s called mucositis, although that may refer only to the sores/blisters on the inside of my cheeks. My saliva feels very viscous, and it has a sort of metallic flavor. That in turn makes all food taste a little bitter or metallic, more so if it starts out a bit tart. So the things that are bad for cancer (spinach, chard, kale, etc.) are very unpleasant, and things that are good for cancer (sugar) are more palatable. Brigitte says, “It IS smart. It wants to be fed.”
That made me think of a section of the cancer history, The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Page 388 – “These gene cascades, notably, were perversions of signaling pathways used by the body under normal circumstances. The “motility genes” activated by cancer cells, for instance, are the very genes that normal cells use when they require movement through the body, such as when immunological cells need to move toward sites of infection. Tumor angiogenesis exploits the same pathways that are used when blood vessels are created to heal wounds. Nothing is invented; nothing is extraneous. Cancer’s life is a recapitulation of the body’s life, its existence a pathological mirror of our own. Susan Sontag warned against overburdening an illness with metaphors. But this is not a metaphor. Down to their innate molecular core, cancer cells are hyperactive, survival-endowed, scrappy, fecund, inventive copies of ourselves.”
This sounds like we got trouble. The two therapies that we currently use to ‘cure’ cancer are radiation and chemo. They both attack the cancer (tumor or legs of the crab) by deadly radiation aimed at it, or by killing all of the fast-growing cells in the whole body. Both are deadly; chemo is poison, and radiation CAUSES cancer. I hope that we humans have been ‘hyperactive’ and ‘inventive’ over the last century in fighting cancer, b/c radiation was used over 100 years ago, and chemo from about the 40’s. Refined, no doubt, but I guess if your trying to kill an ‘inventive copy of yourself’, you have to attack yourself. And being so scrappy and inventive, it is a rather fine line we walk; kill the invader, but please don’t kill the host.
Medicine has used radiation therapy as a treatment for cancer for more than 100 years, with its earliest roots traced from the discovery of x-rays in 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen. Emil Grubbe of Chicago was possibly the first American physician to use x-rays to treat cancer, beginning in 1896. The field of radiation therapy began to grow in the early 1900s largely due to the groundbreaking work of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie (1867–1934), who discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium in 1898. This began a new era in medical treatment and research. Radium was used in various forms until the mid-1900s, when cobalt and caesium units came into use. Medical linear accelerators have been used too as sources of radiation since the late 1940s.
The first use of drugs to treat cancer, however, was in the early 20th century, although it was not originally intended for that purpose. Mustard gas was used as a chemical warfare agent during World War I and was discovered to be a potent suppressor of hematopoiesis (blood production). A similar family of compounds known as nitrogen mustards were studied further during World War II at Yale University. It was reasoned that an agent that damaged the rapidly growing white blood cells might have a similar effect on cancer. Therefore, in December 1942, several patients with advanced lymphomas (cancers of certain white blood cells) were given the drug by vein, rather than by breathing the irritating gas. Their improvement, although temporary, was remarkable. Concurrently, during a military operation in World War II, following a German air raid on the Italian harbour of Bari, several hundred people were accidentally exposed to mustard gas, transported there by the allied forces to prepare for possible retaliation in the event of German use of chemical warfare. The survivors were later found to have very low white blood cell counts. After WWII was over and the reports declassified, the experiences converged and led researchers to look for other substances that might have similar effects against cancer. The first chemotherapy drug to be developed from this line of research was mustine. Since then, many other drugs have been developed to treat cancer, and drug development has exploded into a multibillion-dollar industry, although the principles and limitations of chemotherapy discovered by the early researchers still apply.
OK, enough reading for today.
How about some pix of hairstyling?
We can come to your house, but we don’t clean up, and nosehair trimming is extra. A lot.