This week, we send our thoughts, prayers, and maybe our dollars too to those on the east coast of the United States who are suffering such devastation from hurricane Sandy’s wrath. Homes, businesses and lives are gone; many people’s futures have been forever changed. And though I’m a long way from the damage, my own life may be affected by some particular effects of the storm.
Who would ever think that a hurricane would have anything to do with breast cancer? They are two very different storms. One can be predicted, blows through externally, but (mercifully) dies away. The other sneaks in unannounced, wreaks its havoc internally, and must be driven away. But each one holds its victims in a lingering grip.
Along with the many buildings Sandy destroyed was a laboratory at New York University, which housed some very important mice. These mice have been specially bred for particular experiments, among them research for cancer.
Mice such as these have done more than their fair share to help us humans find a cure for breast cancer (and other diseases). They’ve been called on to chart metastasis. They helped researchers find a drug that targets an inflammatory response that helps fuel triple negative breast cancer. And they’ve helped us discover that the herpes virus and something called an HDAC inhibitor can destroy cells of triple negative breast cancer, the type of cancer I had.
So here’s to the mice (and the many other creatures), whose lives have so often been sacrificed in the service of humans.
But as the hurricane and the Pink Month recede into the distance, I would be remiss to overlook another topic related to the storm of cancer — the focus this month on men affected by prostate and testicular cancer. As October directs our attention to breast cancer awareness, November has been designated the month for prostate cancer awareness. The numbers tell the story — even more men are affected by prostate cancer (1 in 6) than women are affected by breast cancer (1 in 8).
So here’s to the men, who have their own cancer storms to contend with. If you’re a man and you’d like to help raise funds for research (some women might be able to participate as well!), here’s an ingenious and positive undertaking.