Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0504 - One Renegade Cell

Easter Sunday, my family and I went out for brunch at the Mandarin, a Chinese restaurant that seems to specialize in quick and attentive service from a cadre of Chinese waiters and a decent selection of both Canadian and Chinese options at the buffet bars. The most striking thing was just how many fat people prefer buffet dining. I could count only a few individuals who weren't at least 40 pounds overweight.

I paid for the extravagance of that buffet meal Sunday night and most of Monday, followed by a Tuesday from hell. I'm not sure there was any food poisoning involved, but my gastrointestinal tract was complaining loudly and frequently. In fact, at one point yesterday, I was in much the same level of pain as I experienced when suffering through radiation proctitis over a year ago. I could hardly move. Today, on the other hand, things have improved dramatically.

Sunday, we also went to Chapters to look for books. I especially like searching the science and history of science books on the remaindered shelves. One I picked up for $4 was published in 1998 making it far too old for my preferences, but still, it was inexpensive and its title was intriguing - One Renegade Cell: The Quest for the Origins of Cancer. I know - it's not likely to be a best seller, but for someone like me still trying to make sense of my unwanted journey, I couldn't pass it up. And thus far, it has proven to be well worth the minor investment.

I'm only about half-way through the book, but it truly is riveting. Although it was published before the Human Genome Project was completed, you could sense the author's (Robert Weinberg) excitement about how genetic research into the origins of cancer would flourish with a full mapping of the human genome. Weinberg's Whitehead Institute was responsible for the discovery of the first human oncogene and the first tumor suppressor gene.

The website for the Whitehead Institute has a number of podcasts from various members of the staff in addition to Professor Weinberg. The topics range from Evolution as a toolkit for understanding human disease to Stem cell myths and realities. There are also video broadcasts, a magazine and a newsletter available to the educated public. Not bad for a $4 investment, eh?

No comments: