Cancer, the Radiolab edition.

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Henrietta Lacks famous cells

This podcast is possibly the most informative, scary, disgusting, weird and inspiring podcasts I’ve ever heard. Like most people cancer has had a growing impact on my family. My Mum is a survivor; I’ve lost Aunts, my ex-wife, and just last week, a good friends husband.  I’m heading for my 3rd surgery for nonmalignant skin carcinoma removal. Yet I know nothing about cancer.

I didn’t set out to learn, “Famous Tumors” was just next up on my drive time podcast list. Well worth the listen. The main story is about Her name was Henrietta Lacks, scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the land. Her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. She remains virtually unknown, hear her story, and that of the march of her cells.

Brians Song, the Big C and “little” Mikey

I can’t really remember when I first became aware of cancer, but the first time it effected my life was in I’d guess 1972, or 1973. I saw Brian’s Song on TV. The original version, obviously. It had a profound effect on me as a 13/14 year old, that I think to this day I can’t forget. I sobbed like the child I was when I saw it, despite all my aspirations to grow up quickly, and all the confusion around me, I learned a lot from the film about friends, racial tolerance and intolerance, as well as cancer.

And so it was with some trepidation I set the DVR the other day to record the original film, which was on some channel or other on Time Warner Cable. It’s sitting there waiting to be watched, I’m guessing I probably won’t watch it until at least the summer is over.

Since then many people I know or love have been touched by cancer including my Mum. Cancer took the life of Wendy, Auntie Ruth, and has effected the lives of many of my Austin friends, including at least three female friends hit by breast cancer; and also “Iron” Mikey Thompson, from Jack and Adams Bicycle Shop in Austin. Mikey is trying to get a place in this years Ironman Hawaii through the Kona Inspired program, he is a 4x cancer survior, but much more than that he is an all round great guy, who is articulate, kind and compassionate. Please vote for Mikey here.

So it’s somewhat ironic then, that this week I got to meet the most well known cancer survivor of them all, Lance Armstrong, at his house. I took Ronnie along so he could get a signature from Lance and catch up after Sundays Galveston 70.3, Lance came out to introduce himself. I’m also heading to see my Doc this afternoon to get that annoying lesion on the back of my left hand, that won’t heal, looked at. Things that go around, come around.