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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Writer's Life 4/5 - Medical Marvels

There is new hope on the cancer front, as detailed in an article in today's NY Post. Here's the gist, pared and edited by yours truly: "Immunotherapy is perhaps the best and least damaging way to fight the dreaded disease. If chemotherapy acts like an atomic bomb, complete with collateral damage — killing both cancerous and healthy cells alike — immunotherapy is more like a digital hack. It’s aimed not at cancer but at the immune system. What makes cancer so difficult to treat is that it locks up the body’s immune system and prevents it from fighting back. By analyzing biopsies of a patient’s tumors, a customized formula can be developed for unlocking the immune system, allowing it to regain control and strike down cancer cells. Treatment requires a two-hour IV infusion every two weeks for anywhere from six months to two years, plus a vaccine that may be administered periodically to rev up the immune system. So far only 3% of patients have experienced any side effects, such as inflammation of the lungs. Doctors are targeting an encyclopedic range of cancers: gastrointestinal, colon, kidney, melanoma, lung, head, neck, breast, ovarian, bladder and uterine. Prostate and pancreatic cancers have proved more resistant and less receptive to treatment. The track record is not long, but some patients have survived for years with good quality of life. Within the next 10 years, it is hoped that a vaccine will be developed that protects people who seem to be at high risk for getting cancer — before the disease hits. It is also hoped immunotherapy treatments will combat cancer in all its forms. 'Everybody dies of something,' a doctor says. 'But we want it to not be the cancer you got at 54. If your immune system can keep cancer in check for 30 years, we’ll take that.'"

Also from the Post: In 2000 British actress Jane Lapotaire suffered a brain hemorrhage while teaching a class on theater. It was three days before doctors found the source of the bleeding. The operation took six hours to complete. Now 71, she is currently performing in Shakepeare's Richard II and Henry V at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She is not completely healed, however. When tired she suffers "disinhibition," which she describes as "no filter," saying exactly what's on her mind. Kudos, madam, and to those who deliver medical miracles.

Devilish students around the country are writing pro-Trump messages in chalk on sidewalks, which has the thin-skinned and the sheltered "traumatized" that anyone would promote an alleged racist and misogynist. Kudos to those giving their peers a badly needed dose of the real world.

Congratulations to Villanova on winning the NCAA basketball championship. Suddenly its early exits the past few years are forgotten, forgiven. Two of their starters were seniors, and the young man, Kris Jenkins, who made the buzzer-beating game-winner is a junior. This may start a trend toward true student-athletes - not!

The temperature was 31 when I left the apartment at 10:30. The wind was strong at my usual book nook, and the sun wouldn't hit it until about 12:30. I decided to go to Bay Parkway and 85th, where the sunshine mitigated the effects of the breeze. It worked in my favor. My thanks to the woman who bought Killing, the one who purchased volumes II and III of 50 Shades of Gray, and to Mr. Conspiracy, who settled his tab.
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