The Sunday New York Times arrived on our doorstep today and right on the front page there was a sign from the universe addressed right to me. It says: “Playing it Safe in Cancer Resarch: Grant Money Goes to Projects Unlikely to Break Much Ground.”
The timing—coming right after the death of Farrah Fawcett —who traveled to Germany for treatment unavailable in the U.S.—makes the sign even more noticeable. Which is why I’m bringing up a complex and controversial subject—that’s very close to my heart.
For me, Farrah’s desperate struggle hit home. I also pursued alternative treatments for cancer, during and after surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I haven’t written about this because…..well, for one thing I honestly wouldn’t know where to start—or where to stop.
Another writer documented my cancer journey in MORE magazine—for anyone who wants more information on my particular battle. The bottom line is that I believe the reason I’m alive today is due to a cancer vaccine that I took AFTER my conventional treatment ended. I was in a very high risk category, and the vaccine was intended to prevent a recurrence. I also believe I was really lucky.
After my battle to save my life, I fought another battle—to help save the vaccine after my program ended. I felt other breast cancer patients could—and should also get it. But they can’t; it’s no longer available. And some of the reason goes to back to our flawed system of conventional medicine and scientific research. And why for me, the Sunday Times today felt heavier than usual.
You don’t have to read the whole article or understand all the technicalities. I don’t either. I’m clueless when it comes to science. But the truth is that cancer research is not just scientific, it’s political. And even though I understand politics better than I understand science, I can’t get why we allow politics to affect scientific research that is life-saving.
So I hope you’ll look at this NY Times article—whether or not you have any interest in cancer research. Even if you have no interest, you will have experience— because everyone’s life either has been—-or will be—- touched by cancer. And just that fact is enough for me to feel that scientists cannot play it safe now—-or in the future we’ll be sorry.