Monday, 27 June 2016

The Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner.


Science passed me by when I was 15 and though I studied Geography at UNI and so had a little look see at climate and geomorphology and biology and stuff like that, really what I know about science wouldn't cover a pin head. I am a science idiot!

So when I was diagnosed with CML (Chronic Myeloid  Leukemia) last november, I did what most idiots do and that was mostly as I was told. Well except that the Blood guy, Greg, wanted a bone marrow biopsy and I told him that he'd better stick his own hip out cos I wasn't going to. He admitted that the blood tests were almost as accurate so he settled on my NO and that was the start of a wonderful relationship. I would do as I was told until I wouldn't. Seems fair enough.

So I did some rudimentary research and found out about the mutant little suckers that were filling up my bone marrow and my blood and I took the meds and we have all watched as the numbers have fallen. Bloody wonderful bit of magic really.

Then by accident, I saw online this Jessica Wapner, chatting about her book about the development of the meds for CML and she seemed to be talking a language that even a science idiot could understand so I bought the book.

It's not fucking easy at all. A lot of time I have to read stuff twice and sometimes 3 times to decide if I need to read it again and do I really need to understand that bit at all. I am a quick reader, but this book is taking me for bloody ever - I am still only 68% through it, not that I am counting, but I am bloody counting.

When I was seeing the breast bloke in January for the annual laying on of hands, we of course discussed the new diagnosis - what fun! He said that I was lucky it was 2016, cos the turn of the century would have seen me dead lickerty-split and so he would have said no need to do any more mammograms, but as my luck would have it with the new meds, I had better make sure that I kept up with the boob shit and continue to take all reasonable health care and be mindful of buses. I figured he meant mammograms and to eat plenty of chocolate. So I will do that with a double scoop of caramel ice cream please.

It's all very well for people to make these little fly away remarks, but it wasn't until I started wading through 'The Philadelphia Chromosome' that it all became a bit more real.

The science behind the meds I take is long and complicated and careful and clever, more so even than when Meryl Streep was explaining to Ann Hathaway the origins or her blue synthetic jumper, in The Devil Wears Prada. Yep that's the parallel I can draw cos I am a science fool.

Brian Druker and all his mates, and there is a large possie of 'em have been bloody brilliant, bloody minded, blinkered and bleary eyed in their pursuit of the meds that will halt the development of the evil little suckers. No the meds at the moment will not CURE the CML but they can and do bring about a return to normal blood work and so normal life, and seriously, who's to say what the next few years will yield?

And whilst I am not even a tiny bit sciencey, I have always had a bit of blind faith that scientist will find a cure for whatever ails us or the planet. Soil erosion? Climate change? Infertility? Is your reef fucked? Well get some scientists on board and give them some cash and get out of their way.

Yeh I know some people prefer to pray to their god of choice, but me - well I'd rather support the science that might find a remedy for whatever is giving me the shits.  Horses for courses I call that.

Anyway if you have CML and an interest in science or don't mind getting bogged down in details that might see you reach for a dictionary, or if you just fancy a good look at how modern medications are researched and trialed and approved and the economics and politics of it all then maybe you'd fancy reading this book.

But please, if you are faster than me, and that will be just about everyone, please don't tell me how it ends, cos I want to find that out for myself.