Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mother Jones Magazine Blogger Diagnosed With Multiple Myeloma

This fellow might be interesting to follow as he continues his journey towards remission.

Friday Cancer Blogging - 24 October 2014
—By Kevin Drum

A few of you have probably cottoned onto the fact that people don't usually spend a week in the hospital for a broken bone, even a backbone. So in the long tradition of releasing bad news on Friday afternoon, here's my first-ever Friday news dump.

When I checked in to the hospital Saturday morning, the first thing they did was take a bunch of X-rays followed by a CT scan. These revealed not just a fractured L3, but a spine and pelvis dotted with lytic lesions that had badly degraded my bones. That's why a mere cough was enough to send me to the ER. It was just the straw that broke an already-weakened camel's back. Later tests showed that I also had lesions in my upper arm, my rib cage, and my skull—which means that my conservative friends are now correct when they call me soft-headed.

The obvious cause of widespread lytic lesions is multiple myeloma, a cancer of blood plasma cells, and further tests have confirmed this. (The painful bedside procedure on Tuesday was a bone marrow biopsy. Bone marrow is where the cancerous plasma cells accumulate.)

I know from experience that a lot of people, especially those who have been through this or know a family member who's been through this, will want to know all the details about the treatment I'm getting. I'll put that below the fold for those who are interested. For the rest of you, here's the short version: I'm young, I'm not displaying either anemia or kidney problems, and treatments have improved a lot over the past decade. So my short-term prognosis is pretty positive. Treatment involves two to three months of fairly mild chemotherapy, which has already started, followed by a bone marrow transplant. My oncologist thinks I have a very good chance of complete remission.

The longer-term prognosis is less positive, and depends a lot on how treatments improve over the next few years. But I figure there's not too much point in worrying about that right now. Better to stay focused on the current regimen and see how I respond to that. Wish me well.

OK, here are all the gruesome details of my treatment regimen. Yesterday I had a kyphoplasty, which we hope will repair my fractured lumbar bone and relieve my immediate pain. Once a month I'll be getting an IV infusion of Aredia, a bone-strengthening medication.

Because I'm young and my symptoms are mostly limited to the bone lesions, I'm a good candidate for a bone marrow transfusion. For that reason, my oncologist has recommended treatment with three drugs:

Decadron, a corticosteroid
Velcade
Cytoxan

I've already begun the Decadron treatment, and I'll start the other two later today. The total treatment cycle is 2-3 months. It's supposed to be a fairly mild regimen with not too many hideous side effects. We'll see. As usual, the drugs put me at higher risk of infection, so I'll be taking Acyclovir as a prophylactic antiviral.

Assuming this all goes well, it will be followed by a bone marrow transfusion. Basically, they suck the blood out of my body, filter it, and pump it back in. There's more to it than that, of course, but we'll take these things one step at a time.

That's basically it. Obviously there will be loads of ongoing tests and imagery to see how things are going, and I'll continue to have to watch carefully for signs of relapse for the rest of my life. For the time being, though, I'm alive and my prospects for staying that way seem pretty good.

Kevin's Blog Link

Friday, October 24, 2014

When Monsanto Owns Your Sperm (SATIRE)

Should have learned by now but how were you supposed to know you should always read the fine print on your cereal box.

You sit down at the kitchen table. Pour breakfast kibble into a bowl, add milk, and eat. That’s how it’s done. Maybe you take a glance at some cartoon character on the front of the box, but that’s about it. Nobody expected you’d need a law degree before a post-dawn get down with good ole Cap’n Crunch.

You don’t expect to hear someone knocking on your front door at six o’clock in the morning. At least you shouldn’t. Cops, bill collectors, and religious zealots sometimes pick that time in the morning since they know you’re probably home. They don’t particularly care if you think they’re entirely obnoxious for waking you up from a sound sleep. Oh, and process servers like early morning visits as well.

CEASE and DESIST

Well, that’s certainly plain enough. You open the front door and a funny looking little guy, resembling the Cap’n himself a bit, hands you official looking papers, smiles, and strolls back to his car. CEASE and DESIST. Well, you can’t please all the people all of the time.

You pour yourself a second cup of coffee and read the damn thing. Blah, blah, blah, your name, blah, blah, Monsanto, CEASE and DESIST, all activity involving, fluids, your body, blah, blah, implied consent, CAP’N CRUNCH, your supermarket reports. You live alone…read the cereal box. CEASE and DESIST.

You need more coffee and your reading glasses. On the back of the Cap’n Crunch box, in infinitely small letters, you read, “By consuming this Monsanto GMO product, you agree that Monsanto shall retain all rights to all material produced in conjunction with this Monsanto product.” You wonder if that isn’t just the slightest bit odd.

Back to the CEASE and DESIST order. “Blah, blah, blah, all products produced by ingesting this Monsanto product including, blood, muscle, flesh, bone, hair, nails, internal organs, ejaculate, sweat, tears, and manure. Use of any and all of these Monsanto products by you without suitable recompense….”

Reading further you are delighted to discover that you need not immediately stop using the Monsanto products which now constitute your body.  Upon monthly payment of one hundred dollars, for a single gentleman such as yourself, every 30 days Monsanto will allow you to maintain control of up to one inch of fingernail clippings (per digit), the equivalent amount of fluids and solids commensurate with up to four flushes a day, one inch of overall hair,  the product of 15 ejaculations, and the donation of a pint of blood to charitable organizations. Any use above these limits must be shipped immediately to the Monsanto processing facility nearest your home.

This seems relatively fair to you. After all, you did eat the cereal and failed to read the small print on the package. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse,” as they say. And since Sergeant Scalia maintains that corporations like Monsanto are human, and you’ve got the product of Monsanto seeds in you, in a way you’ve been royally screwed and Monsanto wants its child support, or something like that. Threats regarding dragging you through every court in the land and hounding you until the end of time are most definitely implied.

On the final page of the CEASE and DESIST order are instructions for proper payment as well as an offer for additional use of your Monsanto body products. For an extra fifty dollars a month, you are allowed unlimited use of the Monsanto products which now constitute your body. You don’t think you’ll be donating more than a pint of blood, or growing more than an inch of hair, but you decide to kick in the extra fifty anyway.

Not the best way to start off the morning, but you feel better once you’ve authorized your bank to pay Monsanto on a monthly basis. You figure it’s cheaper than court costs. Being jerked off by a lawyer would probably cost at least twice as much.

LINK to this amusing piece

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paralysed man walks again after stem cell transplant – ‘better than moonwalk’

A paralysed Bulgarian man can walk again after receiving revolutionary stem cell transplant treatment in Poland in a breakthrough hailed by one of the British scientists responsible as “more impressive than a man walking on the moon”.

Darek Fidyka was paralysed from the chest down following a knife attack in 2010, but can now walk using a frame after receiving treatment in which nerve cells from his nose were transplanted into his severed spinal column, according to research published in the journal Cell Transplantation on Tuesday.

“When there’s nothing, you can’t feel almost half of your body. You’re helpless, lost,” the patient, who is now recovering at the Akron Neuro-Rehabilitation Center in Wroclaw, told BBC’s Panorama programme.

“When it begins to come back, you feel you’ve started your life all over again, as if you are reborn. It’s an incredible feeling, difficult to describe,” he said.

Specialist olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which form part of the sense of smell, were used in the treatment as they are pathway cells, enabling nearby nerve fibres to be continually regenerated.

Pawel Tabakow, consultant neurosurgeon at Wroclaw University, led a team of surgeons in removing one of the patient’s olfactory bulbs before transplanting cultured cells into the spinal cord.

Scientists think that the cells, implanted above and below the injury, enabled damaged fibres to reconnect.

“What we’ve done is establish a principle, nerve fibres can grow back and restore function, provided we give them a bridge,” explained Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London’s Institute of Neurology, who led the British research team working on the joint project.

“To me, this is more impressive than a man walking on the moon. I believe this is the moment when paralysis can be reversed.”

Tabakow said it was “amazing to see how regeneration of the spinal cord, something that was thought impossible for many years, is becoming a reality”.

Scientists now plan to hold clinical trials on 10 patients in Britain and Poland.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wicked Weather in Panama City Beach.....But Still a Great Time.

I FINALLY convinced The Dom to join me at the condo last week.  He hadn't been there since our Fourth of July festivities.

We had a very pleasant drive there.  Blue skies and sunshine.  That all changed early evening.

We had one helluva storm!  We actually slept on our sofa bed to enjoy the light show.  It was amazing.

When we woke up on Tuesday morning, we were shocked to see the destruction.  The beach was an absolute mess.  There were chaise lounges scattered all over the place.  Double Red Flags were flying.  (STAY OUT OF THE GULF).

It was obviously not going to be a "beach day", so we decided to walk over to Dee's Hangout for their Tuesday lunch of skillet fried chicken.

Much to our shock we saw horrible damage at our favorite hangout across the street.... Beach Bar and Package.





It's amazing that the windows weren't broken!
Local Storm Coverage

Wednesday and Thursday were spent at one of the pools.  The storm had really messed up the water.

Wouldn't you know it.... on Friday morning as we were ready to leave, the water cleared up.

Anyway, it was fun to see the gang, and I was tickled to get Dom to Panama City Beach!




 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Diabetes breakthrough: Human stem cells altered to make insulin

In what could be a major breakthrough for diabetes treatment, scientists have discovered a way to drastically alter human embryonic stem cells, transforming them into cells that produce and release insulin.

Developed by researchers at Harvard University, the innovative new technique involves essentially recreating the formation process of beta cells, which are located in the pancreas and secrete insulin. By stimulating certain genes in a certain order, the Boston Globe reports that scientists were able to charm embryonic stem cells – and even altered skin cells – into becoming beta cells.

The whole process took 15 years of work, but now lead researcher Doug Melton says the team can create hundreds of millions of these makeshift beta cells, and they’re hoping to transplant them into humans starting in the next few years.

"We are reporting the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells — the cell that can read the amount of sugar in the blood which appears following a meal and then squirts out or secretes just the right amount of insulin," Melton told NPR.

There are 29.1 million people in the United States believed to have diabetes, according to statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dating back to 2012. That’s 9.3 percent of the entire population.

Currently, diabetes patients must rely on insulin shots to keep their blood-sugar levels stable, a process that involves continual monitoring and attentiveness. Failure to efficiently control these levels can cause some patients to go blind, suffer from nerve damage and heart attacks, and even lose limbs. If Melton’s beta cell creation process can be successfully applied to humans, it could eliminate the need for such constant check-ups, since the cells would be doing all the monitoring.

Already, there are positive signs moving forward: the transplanted cells have worked wonders on mice, quickly stabilizing their insulin levels.

"We can cure their diabetes right away — in less than 10 days," Melton said to NPR. "This finding provides a kind of unprecedented cell source that could be used for cell transplantation therapy in diabetes."

With mice successfully treated, the team is now working with a scientist in Chicago to put cells into primates, the Globe reported.

Even so, significant obstacles remain, particularly for those who have Type 1 diabetes. With this particular form of the disease, the human immune system actually targets and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, so Melton’s team is looking into encasing cells inside of a protective shell in order to ensure their safety.

Another hurdle is political, since many are against tinkering with human embryonic stem cells on the grounds that research wipes out human embryos. As a result, scientists are also trying to recreate their work on other types of stem cells.

Regardless, the research – formally published in the Cell journal this week – is being welcomed with open arms.

"It's a huge landmark paper. I would say it's bigger than the discovery of insulin," Jose Olberholzer, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois, told NPR. "The discovery of insulin was important and certainly saved millions of people, but it just allowed patients to survive but not really to have a normal life. The finding of Doug Melton would really allow to offer them really something what I would call a functional cure. You know, they really wouldn't feel anymore being diabetic if they got a transplant with those kind of cells."

LINK