Posted by: cg00n | November 24, 2010

Dreaming of a lump-free Christmas

Today saw the removal of the stitches in my latest lump, to which I alluded at the end of my previous posting.  I found it about 5 weeks ago.  Unlike the insect bites this one started as a purely subcutaneous eruption on the right of my leg just below the knee with no visible surface manifestation whatever.  As usual the first few days required serious meditation and some extra clonazepam to keep me on an even keel.   However, in keeping with previous resolutions to avoid knee-jerk reactions we simply moved up an appointment we already had with Dr. M.   That happened 2 weeks ago by which time the lump was just visible as a slightly red-purple dot on the skin.  Dr. M very kindly removed the thing right then and there having first drawn an evil eye on it for added efficacy.  It has been mostly quite painless, as usual.  Now I appear to be lump-free once more.  On Thursday I’ll be seeing Dr. L so he can verify my results – or not.

Not much else of significance has been happening.  Dr. Wu continues to torture me from time to time and seems to think my energy is improving.  I am now in week 6 of my 8 week course on using mindfulness to help prevent anxiety and depressive relapse.  Quite apart from giving me more techniques to use on myself it also forces me to practice more mindfulness during the day.  It all seems to be helping.

In contrast my own situation, an unusually large amount of stuff seems to have been happening to other people in the last month, so welcome to today’s jumbo-sized…

News Roundup

To begin with, a couple of interesting comments from a friend who is a member of the medical establishment.  Two recent references caught her attention.  The first was the Cancering talk which discusses the study of proteomics in cancer cells.  Maybe it is not as radical as the talk makes it sound:

Proteomics has been the field of interest in cancer for at least five years, which means probably ten, if one tracked down original articles. And it has been known for as long as I have been in medicine that cancer floats around in our bodies all the time, but for some reason, sometimes it gets the upper hand. It has also been clear that although immune-suppressed or depressed people tend to get more cancer, not all of them do, and not all people with cancer are immunosuppressed or depressed – i.e. it is a complex system. This is well known, but trying to sort out the factors and then treat them (assuming they are treatable … ) is another issue. The aggregation of factors is so complex that it really comes down to a case-by-case analysis. Which isn’t very helpful when, as an oncologist, you are trying to treat everyone who comes in the door.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether this approach holds any more promise than so many of the other “interesting” research projects on the go.  Presumably it might work out OK if “everyone who comes through the door” gets a test which can define a precise antidote for this particular instance of cancer.

The second observation concerns the BRAF gene mutation target for some melanoma drugs [note: my emphasis in what follows]:

I just heard, on a BBC political comedy show of all places that a new gene for depression had been invented 😉  which had nothing to do with serotonin. That seemed of interest, so I tracked it down:

Now, the thing is that the MAPK pathway is the subject of a lot of interest right – lots of mutations in it, and consequently drug targets. Including, if I had recalled correctly, one of the new ones for melanoma. Sure ’nuff, it’s the same pathway.
It would be of interest to find out if a side effect of all these MAPK pathway inhibitors is going to turn out to be depression. Of course, the study coordinators are going to ignore it for a long time, because depression would be an expected consequence of having stage IV cancer. I wonder how long it will take to show up in the study results.

I am not a doctor and I barely understand the argument being made here but I think drugs like PLX4032 are specific kinase inhibitors (BRAF is the specific kinase in this context) and the MAPK pathway is the chemical mechanism that produces BRAF.  These may help to explain:

In short, drugs like PLX4032 inhibit components of the MAPK pathway a consequence of which is to produce depressive behaviour in mice.  That’s just what I need.  I wonder if the reverse is true?  Do anti-depressants interfere with PLX4032?  Human beings are too bloody complicated for their own good:  don’t give me any of this “intelligent design” BS!  Just to round off this section,  here is the good news and the bad news about PLX4032, all of which probably applies to other BRAF-targetting melanoma drugs.

And now here is the rest of the news.  I hope you’re in no hurry.

Starting with cancer,

Do you ever feel disenchanted with a medical establishment that can’t even cure the common cold?  Well, finally there is some progress

On the psychological front,

Finally, here is a truly inspiring video about Alice.  Whatever she’s got, I wish she’d bottle it and sell it because I could use a dose or two.

PS:  Thanks for the chat, Z!



  1. Yay for nano particles!
    People on anti-depressants less likely to harm others? Isn’t that a duh? Found that article on coders’ insomnia yesterday. Passed it on to the InsomniaLand blog.
    The problem with the possible treatment for Stargardt’s macular dystrophy (I got there by a iink from one of your articles– is that it’s an injection into the eye, and you have to have your eyes open and watch. However, given the blindess this disease brings, maybe you can’t see what’s going on.

    That Alice is something amazing, that’s for sure. Bet she’s not keen on Wagner, though, as he was unremittedly anti-Semitic. She is a tribute to the power of love and survival inspiteof, and I hope will be an inspiration to many. 107 on Friday! Amazing.

    Did I send you the URL to the YouTube of the Holocaust survivor and his grandkids who danced outside several former concentration camps, to the tune of I Will Survive?

  2. Oh, and may you have a lump-free Christmas–not even a lump of coal!

    I have a long general update on me, you’ll be in the address field, never fear. Don’t know when it’ll go out, though.

  3. Glad to know that the lastest lump is out. Reading through the links, the stress one seems spot on. Some companies I feel are trying to deal with it (like mine offering the counselling service). Hugs & good wishes your way for the lump free Christmas and thank YOU for the chat(s).

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