Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Surgery as a fresh start

Today's prompt asks "Do you like a fresh start?"  Yes, a little too much for my own good.  That written, I got one in at the end of February, a surgery to treat cancer.  It went very well and I'm very pleased with the results.  That written, it was still major surgery and it had the expected effect of wearing me out.  The following article from Scientific American describes the effect on the immune system in the first paragraph, along with an experimental treatment for it (that I didn't participate in).

Fighting Cancer with Poxviruses
By Stephanie Swift
February 15, 2013
Recently, poxviruses have also been applied to address a long-standing problem affecting cancer patients undergoing tumour removal surgery. Particularly after long and complicated procedures, cancer patients naturally enter a bodywide state of repair, where most energy is diverted into the healing process. Perversely, this temporary disturbance in the natural biological balance actually encourages any missed bits of tumour to spread, causing new patches of disease to spring up. While the reason for this is not entirely understood, suppression of the normal immune response, in particular a specific population of immune cells known as, ‘natural killer’ cells, is at least part of the problem.

A team at the University of Ottawa, led by surgical oncologist Dr. Rebecca Auer, reasoned that applying an engineered poxvirus an hour before surgery, which would home to the tumour and deploy immune-stimulating payloads, could restore the balance of the immune system. As they report in the journal, Cancer Research, this happily proved to be true: the virus kicked the apathetic natural killer cells into upping their game, reinvigorated the surgically-stunned immune system and, in mice at least, prevented the surgery-induced spread of tumour material. Poxviruses were therefore blended seamlessly into a normal surgical regime with excellent results.

Since poxviruses have been so widely applied to humans in the smallpox vaccine, there is a huge amount of safety data to recommend their use in the clinic, and in the treatment of over 500 cancer patients, there have been no serious complications. Incorporating a naturally-adapted cancer-loving microorganism like poxvirus into the available arsenal of anti-cancer treatments is plainly a splendidly progressive choice.
It took almost seven weeks for me to feel normal, just in time for me to lead a field trip.  Until then, it was a long struggle to recover.

Follow over the jump for more articles that I found both before and after my surgery that shed light on my condition.

So what was the result of my surgery?  I'm missing an organ.  That means I share something with Pope Francis.

MyHealthNewsDaily via LiveScience: What Organs Can You Live Without?
Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer
Date: 14 March 2013
Newly elected Pope Francis had part of a lung removed as a teenager, according to the Vatican, but it shouldn't be a significant health issue for him now, experts say.

The pontiff, 76, had part his lung removed to treat an infection he had about 40 decades ago, according to NBC News. At that time, it was more common to treat infections, such as tuberculosis, this way because antibiotics were not widely used.

People can survive even if an entire lung is removed. When one lung is removed, the remaining lung inflates to take up some of the extra space. Living with one lung doesn't usually affect everyday tasks or life expectancy, though a person with one lung wouldn't be able to exercise as strenuously as a healthy person with two lungs, said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"40 decades ago" probably should be 60 years ago to be consistent with it happening while the new Pope was a teenager.

So, what organ am I missing that I can do without?  The next article spells it out.

MyHealthNewsDaily via LiveScience: It's Hard to Undo Cancer Screening Recommendations, Study Shows
Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer
Date: 15 March 2013
The growing controversy surrounding prostate cancerscreening in recent years doesn’t appear to have changed men's attitudes toward the test — many still get screened regardless, a new study suggests.

Between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of men ages 50 to 64 who were screened for prostate cancer with the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test remained stable, the study found. Screening rates among men ages 40 to 49 increased until 2008, after which they flattened out, but didn't decrease.

Meanwhile, there has been increasing concern over the test's benefit. In 2009, two large studies found that PSA screening leads to a high rate of prostate cancer overdiagnosis — that is, it often finds cancers that would not have gone on to cause problems or death in a man's lifetime. These studies were widely covered by the media at the time, and eventually led to changes in PSA screening recommendations.
Yes, I'm lacking a prostate.  Note that I didn't write that I'm missing it; I'm not.  Honestly, that thing was killing me, both literally and figuratively and I'm much better off without it.  I'm not even sorry that I can no longer be tempted by knowledge such as described in the next article.

LiveScience: 'Sex Week' Lures College Students to Educate Themselves
Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor
Date: 14 March 2013
At Brown University's Sex Week 2013, no topic is taboo.

Following an introductory seminar on "Fornication 101," which covered basic topics such as putting condoms on with your mouth and G-spot stimulation, and yesterday's (March 13) presentation on "Queering the Toybox," featuring eco-friendly gay sex toys and products that remember user preferences through integrated microchips, there's really nowhere left to go, right?

Wrong. Tonight's workshop will address "The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure," where men will explore "how much fun prostate stimulation can be," according to the official event schedule.
Hey, it's time for the Nablopomo sex badge!


  1. Narb is pleased that your recovery is going so well. You clearly have the Teela Brown gene, although it would not surprise me to find Kzin genetic material lurking in your DNA as well.

    1. Thank you. I'm glad it's going well, too. As for the Teela Brown gene, I should be so lucky, pun intended. I make no comment on the Kzin DNA, but I have my doubts, although my cats love me.

  2. Those Kzin just drone on and on...

    1. Now that you mention it, I'm beginning to wonder if the U.S. is getting military advice from the Kzin, what with drone warfare being all the rage these days. =^^=