Thursday, March 30, 2006

Smart people are cool

I received my quarterly newsletter from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation earlier this week. The top story: Scientists are about to start mapping the myeloma genome. This means all the scientific-type people will be able to understand myeloma a lot better, figure out how and why it progresses, and develop better drugs.

I'm sure it means many other things, too, but it's all a little out of my reach as a non-scientific person. The last time I took biology was in the tenth grade, and all I really remember is dissecting an earthworm. And all I really remember specifically about the earthworm is that my best friend and lab partner decided we should name the earthworm after the girl who was dating the boy that Best Friend and Lab Partner had a crush on. After the dissection was over, we symbolically hacked the poor worm into little pieces with the scalpel. I realize now this was very disrespectful to the poor earthworm, who had generously donated his little body to science. It was also disrespectful to the worm's poor namesake, who, as far as I know, never brought harm to anyone.

I hope the earthworm's family isn't reading this.

My point, and I do have one, is that I am extremely grateful that there are smart people in this world who made it far beyond the earthworm dissection, the frog dissection, and, heck, even the crayfish dissection, and are now hard at work finding a cure for my disease.

I'm also grateful to a bunch of other myeloma patients. The article goes on to say that the genome project is possible because so many myeloma patients have donated bone marrow and blood samples to a tissue bank that scientists are using for their research. I did this during my first visit to the Mayo Clinic. Before they did my bone-marrow biopsy, I signed a form saying it was okay for them to take a little bit extra for themselves. I couldn't even tell that they did it. (If you happen to be a myeloma patient, and you want to learn more about this, click here).

Just think: Some brilliant scientist could be staring at a little piece of me under a microscope right now. Go, smart people, go! I'll be here waiting for the good results and apologizing to the earthworms.

1 comment:

John Wagner said...

When I went to MD Anderson last year for all my advanced diagnostic tests, I also signed papers that they could take extra blood and bone marrow for research. I also filled out a long form with lots of questions about my life and exposure to chemicals. I didn't hesitate to sign the forms. My problem is I think they somehow got some brain cells along with my bone marrow. How else can I explain my memory loss, mental confusion, and my even more warped sense of humor? Just think, some brilliant scientist might be sitting next to your brilliant scientist saying, "Hey, Ralph, look at this slide. Do those look like brain cells we pulled out of this guy's butt?"