patients and caregivers know first-hand that life-threatening enemies cannot be
ignored. I cannot speak for all, but I strongly support our nation in it's goal of
identifying and eliminating the people behind the unspeakable acts of 9-11. It
is obvious that reasoning and diplomacy is not always enough, and that our great nation
must focus on this considerable challenge.
have been advised to try and return to normal life so that the terrorists do not
succeed in their goal to disrupt our way of life. But normal life for cancer victims is
the continuous fight for survival, and this fight appears to have much in common with our new war
First, the sickness and
unreality we feel at
diagnosis is very much like the experience of Americans on September 11 and it's aftermath.
The enemy is also similar. It comes from ourselves and is somehow twisted (mutated) to become
something that betrays usthat seeks our death. Just as every siren
post 9-11 evokes renewed
fear of assault and senseless violence; every new feeling and symptom carries with it a fear that the
cancer is back or growing.
There is no reasoning with this enemy although its
theoretically possible to do so, just as its possible to induce cancer cells to
differentiate to normal cellsbut this change over is rare and not curative. We
understand that humanity is a body that requires cooperation and rules of conduct. We know
that cancer cells have lost this connectionthat they have lost the rules that govern
normal function and service to the body.
The remedies for cancer and terrorism have much in common. We
can bomb the terrorists and the people who live there and thereby apply a kind of
chemotherapy. We may or may not provide nutrition and protection to the residents of
cities who are in harms way. We have "smart" bombs that are not always so
smart that resemble radiolabeled antibodiesthat carry radiation to specific
cells. We might try to cut off the supply of funds to terrorists just as
antiangiogenic treatments can sometimes stop the blood supply to tumors. New
immunotherapies against cancer seek to "educate" the immune cells so that they
can identify and attack cancer cells. This remedy is identical to the goal of our
police and intelligence agencies in regard to terrorists who live in our communities.
Finally, it is a combination of approaches that provides the best hope for success.
Cancer and terrorist cells will certainly adapt to treatments that are not vigorous and
Terrorism seems to grow from an impoverished soil where
revenge takes root. It also grows from isolation, which sees non-self as non-human. Here
the similarity with cancer does not fit as well, but there are reasonable connections.
Just as its estimated that dietary and environmental changes can prevent two-thirds
of cancer, we can reduce terrorism by creating a healthier social and economic environment
that promotes understanding and communication with all people in all parts of the world.
Without justifying the despicable acts we have witnessed and experienced, we can try to
recognize that we are not perfect and try our best to respect and communicate better with
different cultures of the world.
Much of what seemed important on September 11 has lost its
meaning. But this is not true of our fight against cancer. As described here, we can see
that our fight is primordial and centered in existence and humanity. Indeed, we are a
casualty of terrorism because, understandably, resources may well be diverted away from
cancer research to the war against terrorism. However, we should not be ashamed to ask for
help and resources during this time. Our fight and the consequences of our fight are also
important. Perhaps this experience will awaken more Americans to whats truly
essential. Perhaps it will help the public to better connect to the war we experience
dailythe scourge of cancer that kills more than 500,000 individuals each year in