Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Believe in good....

I have been touched by this video for some time.  When a friend re-posted it, I knew it was really worth sharing.  (Thanks, David!)

Yes, it's an ad....but.....

Witness happiness.  Feel love. Receive what money can't buy.  Make the world more beautiful.  Believe in good.

And...for a bit of fun.....another ad...

Laugh. Enjoy the silly, the beautiful, the grand, the small.  Much love - c

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Strength and beauty = Chantelle Brown-Young....and me???


So very proud of a lovely young woman and those who accept her beauty, though strength of spirit is her most impressive attribute!!!  Read her story in the link below.

Chantelle Brown-Young


Not as dramatic given my fair skin tone in the first place, but....sometimes gives a girl pause.

May we all find the strength to be our best selves each day. Love, c

Thursday, August 21, 2014

SUMMER READING, Part 3


Cutting for Stone  By:  Abraham Verghese
     A truly beautiful book of love, heartbreak, and medicine that begins in an Ethiopian Mission hospital, populated by locals, an Indian nun, two Indian doctors and a British surgeon.  I adored the characters Hema and Ghosh and the medical aspects. (Do not be alarmed....you needn't know a thing about medicine to appreciate them!)  I was touched that some of the characters' love for one another came through in their ease of working side by side, as if of one mind, assisting one another while caring for patients with no strain or confusion.  Just a simple flow and intuitive knowledge of what the other needed.  It reminded me of working with B!  My only criticism was a stretch into the symbiosis of twin-dom that got a little carried away, but was still very much worth the reading.  I was very glad I had eaten Ethiopian food, their bread in particular...





     Injera is served just as you see here...in rolls alongside (Incredibly similar in appearance to ACE wraps, unfortunately!!), and as the "plate" for the communal meal.  The food is deliciously seasoned and doesn't taste like Indian food despite the appearance.  The bread...is something you probably need to develop a taste for!  It is a sourdough flat bread made from teff (a tiny iron rich grain) flour, mixed with water, that is allowed to ferment for several days.  The liquid batter is poured onto the baking surface resulting in flat bread with one smooth and one porous side that is then used both as your plate and your fork!

     Passages I loved:
"Sound Nursing Sense is more important than knowledge, though knowledge only enhances it. [It] is a quality that cannot be defined, yet is invaluable when present and noticeable when absent."

"Hema's style was precise and careful - a living example...of why more women should be surgeons."

"My VIP patients often regret so many things on their deathbeds.  They regret the bitterness they'll leave in people's hearts.  They realize that no money, no church service, no eulogy, no funeral procession no matter how elaborate, can remove the legacy of a mean spirit."

"But a few lucky men...never have such worries; there was no restitution he needed to make, no moment he failed to seize."


The Thirteenth Tale  By: Diane Setterfield
     Offered to me by a nurse at work, this was a uniquely written mystery of sorts, in which the method of the telling lent a great deal to the story itself.  Surprisingly, after the symbiosis of twins was touched on in Cutting for Stone, it was part of this story too.  Interestingly, the author touched another chord....the question of seeing things as we choose to see them...whether we intend to or not...  "To guard against errors such as this, one would have to teach oneself to view everything without preconception, to abandon all habitual modes of thought.  There is much to be said in favor of such an attitude in principle.  The freshness of the mind!  The virginal response to the world!  So much science has at its root the ability to see afresh what has been seen and thought to be understood for centuries..."  Something researchers need to train themselves to do for certain....but it is not always that easy, is it?
Happy reading! - c

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SUMMER READING, Part 2


And then there were none  By:  Agatha Christie

      The lady can tell a tale. It had been some time since my first reading, and this round hit me most profoundly. A little story with so much to say on right and wrong, responsibility, and living with your choices. Murder is often much more complicated than the 'simple' act of pulling the trigger.
     As planes are being shot down because of an uprising, supported by this faction, supplied by that power, with agreements signed by this man.  Did 'he' not ultimately shoot down that plane...and kill 298 people?
     Why are children (over 100 so far this year) dying and suffering with polio in Pakistan?  Is it due to the marauding Taliban followers who have killed 60 polio vaccination workers since the Pakistani Taliban banned polio vaccination in 2012? Does responsibility fall to the Taliban leaders who direct such tactics? Or does the fault lie with the genius in our own CIA who used a bogus hepatitis B vaccination campaign to collect information about the location of Osama bin Ladin?  I'm not against the process of espionage needed to find bin Ladin.  But, to connect those trying to protect and heal others from deadly diseases with our CIA surveillance in a culture that places little trust in our motives in the first place, thereby putting the lives of children, their parents, and healthcare workers at risk, is unconscionable!  So, who is killing and maiming those children and workers?  The ones who pulled the trigger?  The Taliban leaders?  Or did we do that?  Me and You?

10,000 Maniacs - Please Forgive Us

Lyrics:
"Mercy, mercy, why didn't we hear it?  Mercy, mercy, why didn't we read it, buried on the last page, of our morning papers?
The plan was drafted, drafted in secret.  Gunboats met the red tide.  Driven to the rum trade for the army, that they created.  But, the bullets were bought by us, it was dollars that paid them
Please forgive us, we don't know what was done.  Please forgive us, we don't know what was done in our name.
There'll be more trials like this, in mercenary hey days.  When they're so apt to wrap themselves up in the stripes and stars, and find that they are able to call themselves heroes, and to justify murder by their fighters for freedom.
Please forgive us, we don't know what was done.  Please forgive us, we didn't know.  Could you ever forgive us? I don't know, how you could.  I know this is no consolation.  Could you ever believe that we didn't know?
Please forgive us, we didn't know.  I wouldn't blame you if you never could.  Please forgive us.  And you never will."

To all the questions posed, I fear Dame Agatha would answer, "Yes! All of you." - c

Saturday, August 16, 2014

eIF4F, the way to break resistance to anti-BRAF and anti-MEK in the future?


eIF4F is a nexus of resistance to anti-BRAF and anti-MEK cancer therapies   Boussemart, et al.  Nature. 2014. July.

 Synopsis:

'In BRAF (V600)-mutant tumors, the resistance to the drugs that targets BRAF or MEK kinases rely on reactivation of the RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal pathway, on activation of the other PI(3)K-AKT-mTOR pathway, or on modulation of the caspase-dependent apoptotic cascade.  (WOW!!  But, basically - these three different 'pathways' can mess up a patient's response to BRAFi or MEKi treatment.)  All three of these pathways converge to regulate the formation of the eIF4F...complex, which binds to the...end of messenger RNA, thereby modulating the transcription of mRNAs...[and in this study they show] that the persistent formation of the eIF4F complex...is associated with resistance to anti-BRAF, anti-MEK, and anti-BRAF plus anti-MEK drug combinations in BRAF (V600)-mutant melanoma, colon, and thyroid cancer cell lines.  (Sooo, these smart peeps figured out the three main ways the eIF4F complex messes up the works.) [They developed a way to detect such interactions and showed] that the eIF4F complex formation is decreased in tumors that respond to anti-BRAF therapy and increased in resistant metastases... Strikingly, inhibiting the eIF4F complex...synergizes with [BRAFi] to kill the cancer cells.  eIF4f not only  appears to be an indicator of both innate and acquired resistance but also is a promising therapeutic target.  Combinations of drugs targeting BRAF (and/or MEK) and eIF4F may overcome most of the resistance mechanisms arising in BRAF(V600)-mutant cancers.'

Now...this is only in a petri dish, not demonstrated in humans...and therefore is a long way from use in peeps...but it certainly sounds promising to me!!!  Way to go, smart researcher people!! - c

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SUMMER READING, Part 1

I love so many things...reading, cooking, working, running, my garden, sewing, music, writing, time with family and friends, my efforts to spread hope and knowledge for those with melanoma. There hardly seems time to do it all.  However, I have enjoyed some of my reading so much this summer, that I thought I would share a bit of it with you.

I Am Malala  By:  Malala Yousafzai
     Malala began writing about life under the Taliban, in Swat Valley, Pakistan for the BBC when only 11.  In 2012 she was targeted and shot in the head by the Taliban in retribution for speaking out for the education of girls and continuing to attend school herself.  Her willingness to stand up for what is right, while still indulging in the desires of a young girl for pretty hair and fair skin, is shared in high relief.  The book provides a clear picture of Pakistan, it's beauty, history - Hinduism in India, the departure of Muslims from India to Pakistan, Hindus returning to India.  Ahmadi Muslims who are not recognized as such by the Pakistani government.  The Muslim split between the Sunnis and Shias, the Taliban, ISI.  Veils and punishment in the street.  An unthinkable situation, yet the only life that exists for so many...today.  All told by an amazing young woman.

Other related incredible reads:
Three Cups of Tea:  One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time
By:  Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin  Though some controversy bubbled up about the organization, expenditure of funds collected, and accuracy of some bits of his story...it is still a good read and vivid portrayal of life in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Desert Queen, The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell
By:  Janet Wallach  The story of Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) who explored, mapped, and excavated Arabia while other women never ventured beyond their doorsteps alone; playing a major role in the British Empire, as they drew lines in the sand to create the modern Middle East.

Cloud Atlas  By: David Mitchell
     An amazing compilation, six incredible stories with unique characters, really.  Yet, all strangely connected, as we all are, if we just pause to see it.  A treatise on race, equality, consumerism ~ hidden in beautiful prose.  So many unforgettable lines. One, you've already heard me use:
"Do whatever you can't NOT do."

"Truth is singular.  Its 'versions' are mistruths."

"...it is attitude, not years, that condemns one to the ranks of the Undead, or else proffers salvation.  In the domain of the young there dwells many an Undead soul."

     And while I most often hold more with the phrase above, I have seen life become such that the following becomes plausible.... 

"People are obscenities. Would rather be music than be a mass of tubes squeezing semisolids around itself for a few decades before becoming so dribblesome it'll no longer function."

"List'n, savages an' Civ'lizeds ain't divvied by tribes or b'liefs or mountain ranges, nay, ev'ry human is both, yay."

"I got to live with not knowin'....I ain't the fist un who lived so, an' I ain't the last neither."

"...social strata was demarked, based on dollars and, curiously, the quantity of melanin in one's skin."

"Because you cannot discern our differences, you believe we have none."

"What precipitates outcomes?  Vicious acts and virtuous acts.  What precipitates acts?  Belief.  '...only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!'  Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"

Beautiful and true.  No? - c

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams...we never really knew you...enough...

Such passing is so hard for me to understand.  Robin Williams, a man I've never met, was such a part of our lives.  My kids really feel the loss.  Mrs. Doubtfire.  Aladdin.  Dead Poets SocietyGood Will HuntingGood Morning Vietnam. Awakenings.  And two of my very favorite movies EVER....The Fisher King and What Dreams May Come.  How we've cried through both of those!!!  And how we've laughed....James Lipton's interview from Inside the Actor's Studio, will bring you to tears due to laughing so hard.

On a lighter note...for Fred and Ruthie...from the man himself:
"Okra is the closest things to nylon I've ever eaten.  It's like they bred cotton with a green bean. Okra, tastes like snot.  The more you cook it, the more it turns to string."

And so that we can go on:
"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."

And so you did, Mr. Williams.  May you now have peace.  -c