Wednesday, March 25, 2015

a view from the front line

....Michael Lerner likens cancer to a parachute jump, without a map, behind enemy lines. There you are, the future patient, quietly progressing with other passengers towards a distant destination when, astonishingly, (Why me?) a large hole opens in the floor next to you. People in white coats appear, help you into a parachute and – no time to think – out you go. Aaaiiiieeeee!

If you’re lucky the parachute opens. You descend. You hit the ground. You crawl upright. You are surrounded by a thick fog through which a crowd of dimly discernable figures call and gesture ‘Here! This way!’. But where is the enemy? What is the enemy? What is it up to? Is it here, behind this bush? Over there? Near? Far? And which way is home? No road. No compass. No map. No training. Is there something you should know and don’t?

The white coats are far, far away, strapping others into their parachutes. Occasionally they wave but, even if you ask them, they don’t know the answers. They are up there in the Jumbo, involved with parachutes, not map-making.

It is true that recently some of the parachute-makers have been asking new questions which may revolutionise the process: monoclonal antibodies; oncogenes; vaccines; DNA – all this research may lead us someday to a cure or cures, or at least delays and surer remissions. But can you promise me the magic parachute in a year? In two? In five?

Meantime I am down here in the war zone, trying to figure out my map.