life · Minerva

Today Is World Cancer Day – Get Your Bits Checked

First, I accidentally wrote “bitch” instead of “bits” the first time, so that shows you where my head is at today. I almost left it that way.

Second, this week a year ago I was in between the end of my Red Devil chemo treatments and the beginning of Taxol. If you have been around a while and remember, Taxol is a chemo drug derived from the Pacific Yew tree’s bark. Yew trees are horrendously poisonous to all living things (even birds are careful about the berries). I think about this a lot, because judging by the side effects of Taxol (some severe muscle pain during infusion, numbness/neuropathy in hands/feet, sloughing of palm and sole skin, loss of nails) I can’t imagine yew poisoning would be a pleasant way to die.

It’s a fascinating and important thing, then, that such a deadly plant provided one of my effective treatments for a disease. A collaboration of science and nature for the betterment of a human. But everything has a cost. EVERYTHING. The Pacific Yew was harvested for bark, once discovered as a potential cancer treatment, and harvesting the bark killed the tree. Science, therefore, is both a boon and bane, and the way to balance what’s taken is to give back.

Donating to cancer research allows scientists to figure out how to synthesize drugs like Taxol. Once they can create a synthetic version, the Yew tree is no longer needed. Lest you think I’m focused on breast cancer because it’s my personal experience, I would like to note that vaccinations for HPV, according to the World Health Organization, could eradicate cervical cancer. Putting money into cancer research is the only way to determine treatments or cures. Endorsing a specific org isn’t my gig, really, so if you’re moved to donate feel free to choose the one that is most meaningful to you.

Third: get your bits checked. I don’t just mean mammograms, I mean get that weird mole checked, or the lump you can’t explain, or that cough you can’t get rid of no matter what you try, or just have an annual physical. Early detection saved me not only a life, but a LOT of pain and suffering that would’ve been worse had I waited or ignored things.

That’s all the lecturing I have today, so I’ll leave you with a very wistful puppy who was told in no uncertain terms this morning (with Ragnar growls) that no, she’s not allowed to eat while her big brother is eating. So it appears she’s grown up enough for him to be a tolerant yet firm packmate, instead of letting her get away with anything. And I am amused. (For the record, Minerva has been notorious for trying to eat out of both bowls, so it’s about time he stands up for his own breakfast.)

I’m a good girl, but I’m hungry.
Minerva after Ragnar growled while eating his breakfast.

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