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Appreciating Cancer Detectives

Published on November 20, 2019

Gate K4, O’Hare Airport, Chicago – I am flying home to San Diego after a night and a day in Chicago to sit in on a meeting of scientists who study rare myeloproliferative neoplasms, a group of blood cancers including one I have, myelofibrosis, or scarring in the bone marrow. Fortunately, I am doing well, and the scientific roundtable gave me hope.

mpn eventThis meeting of about 40 people was put on by the MPN Research Foundation, a small but mighty foundation started 20 years ago by Bob Rosen, a Chicago commercial real estate businessman who was diagnosed with one of the conditions. Unfortunately, he passed away from complications of his disease and stem cell transplant. But a great team continues, including funding scientists who we all hope will find a cure.

While sitting through their slide presentations about their research, it became abundantly clear these are “cancer detectives.” In this age of cancer genes and proteins, of genomics and cell micro-environments, it is incredible how they probe for needle in a haystack clues of what could turn specific cancer cells off without throwing healthy cells and processes out of kilter. It is expensive and painstaking work! It takes years.

I have heard that a scientist may have one meaningful discovery in their career. Many have none. Yet the people in the room today persevere. As a patient, I told them how much gratitude I have and that all of us with the diagnosis wish them Godspeed. I also told them whatever we can do, we’ll do; donate to research when we can, participate in clinical trials when appropriate, share our voice with them as they design research or present it to government regulators.

mpn audienceCancer is the crime. The scientists are the detectives. They come in all shapes and sizes from all over the world and, happily, more often now, share information. I am heartened.

Today these detectives are my stars and we regularly feature them in live broadcasts and interviews so they can be your stars too. Their mood today was hopeful like police who feel they are on the trail of the bad guy. If you meet one of these “detectives,” say thank you. My experience is in cancer research we have a great team doing their best.

~Andrew Schorr

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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