Science offers hope for fighters, survivors


Granddad was the first person I knew with cancer.
I was 6, and he was in his 60s.
During my next 60 years, I have known many more diagnosed with the disease, and just the word prompted dread and fear — so much so, that I could almost hear the capital C when people said it.
Twice I have waited to hear the word “benign” when tumors were removed, and I was grateful when the word came.
I also have waited with friends for the results of tests or surgeries.
I only recognized the promise of new treatment and detection methods in more recent times. I always thought of advancement in terms of the past 10 years and couldn’t seem to see real change before that.
The more recent signs that just maybe researchers are beating that capital C down to size give me such hope.
Treatment therapies offer prospects of fewer side effects that cause pain and loss of stamina and the ability to live life to the fullest.
I wonder how many people ultimately will benefit from immunotherapy, instead of the radiation and chemotherapy, when I see commercials in magazines or on television.
For others, progress lies in the ability to wear a patch to release medication following chemotherapy instead of returning to the cancer center or doctor’s office for injections.
Last week, I heard further investigation into the use of pets to detect cancer. Imagine our faithful companions being able to warn of dangers from within by sniffing out the invasion before it has time to stake a claim to their masters’ lives.
While scouting out websites and publications to validate or repudiate my hopes, I was somewhat surprised to learn that scientists have reported innovative theories and methods much more than 10 years ago.
On a site for the American Cancer Institute, advancements in treating or detecting the disease were reported as far back as the early 1800s, and at 10- to 15-year increments up to current dates. I wonder how quickly and how far the word spread in times when mass media weren’t even on the spectrum.Access to advanced training for doctors in remote communities over the plains and mountains was hard to come by.
I am beyond thankful for those who have dedicated their lives to research and the medical providers who have kept up with the advancements. I’m even more thankful for the people who took a risk to participate in studies that offer so many more tomorrows for many more cancer survivors.