A woman reaching her hand out to a rainbow of light and color

I Have Touched the Future

May is National Cancer Research Month

Christa McAuliffe said, "I touch the future; I teach." I have always loved that. Looking at a young person, knowing that most likely they will live many years after I depart the planet, what new inventions and events will they witness?

As an elementary teacher, I often told my students why reading and writing were essential. PIE was the acronym we used. An author writes to P-persuade you, I-inform you, E-entertain you. I knew my students might live like the Jetsons in the cartoon, but they would still have to think for themselves no matter what technology came along.

I recently watched a college student participate in the Jeopardy tournament on television. The young man said he wanted to work in medical research for cancer treatments because he knew how his mother suffered during her treatments.

The host told him that his commitment was beautiful. I agree. It's always beautiful when something good can come from something bad. We need bright people like him to research new treatment options. Who knows, he might even discover the cure.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cancer cells in your body. However, chemo treatments are not the same for every patient. Here are some examples.

  • Sometimes chemo is used alone without other treatments.
  • It is often used after different treatments to kill hidden cancer cells.
  • Chemo can shrink tumors so that other treatments, such as radiation and surgery, are possible.
  • Palliative Chemotherapy may help relieve signs and symptoms of cancer by killing some of the cancer cells.
  • Sometimes, doctors perform a bone marrow transplant (also called a stem cell transplant) for bone marrow or blood diseases. Doctors often prescribe chemotherapy before a bone marrow transplant. 1

History of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy was first developed at the beginning of the 20th century, although it was not originally intended as a cancer treatment.

During World War II, naval personnel discovered those exposed to mustard gas had changes in their bone marrow cells. During that same period, the US Army studied several chemicals related to mustard gas to grow more effective agents for war.

In that work, chemists investigated a compound called nitrogen mustard and found it to work against lymphoma. This agent served as the model for alkylating agents that killed rapidly growing cancer cells by damaging their DNA. 2

Our future

Did you know that there are more than 100 kinds of documented cancers? In addition, cancer can grow in almost any part of your body. So, medical researchers have their work cut out for them!

When I was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) in 2017, my oncologist showed me a chart with my life expectancy as ten years, but she kept stressing that I was young (age 61 at the time) and healthy.

I remember thinking, How healthy can I be with cancer? But she meant that I had no other health issues. Thank goodness I never smoked! When 2027 gets here, I will throw darts at that silly chart.

All you creative and brilliant people, we don't need more apps for our cell phones or video games. We need a cancer cure! In the meantime, we could use some new treatment options.

Get busy! You might save someone you love.

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