Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Way Leads Unto Way'

Yesterday it became perfectly clear to me what the first cancer study we'll work on is and it's not going to be an easy one.

A little historical context first. After reading an article that pathogenic infections are more and more likely suspects in causing some cancers in humans I talked with several physicians about it. HPV is thought to cause the majority of cervical tumors and it seems now that lung cancer is not caused by the tar and nicotine from smoking but the repeated respiratory infections from diminished lung capacity.

I took this notion to several veterinarians I met on my journey and their response was that dogs are not susceptible to all of the same pathogens humans are. They don't get sick like we do. True but we know dogs have a different threshold of pain and they don't tell us when they have a slight case of the sniffles like the other snowflakes in our lives. Diagnostics in dogs is different than humans.

I think there's something there. Since Boston I've been meditating on what's next - now that the walk is over the work begins - and the correlation between pathogens and cancer has always been one of the possibilities.

Touring Lily's Haven outside of Colorado Springs yesterday convinced me completely. Lily was a gorgeous Italian Greyhound whose unfortunate fate landed her in a puppy mill. Lack of dental care amongst other atrocities later, Lily was rescued but by then she was completely toothless and had suffered countless oral infections.

As I listened to her story it astonished me that Lily was diagnosed with oral cancer which metastisized throughout her jaw bones and surrounding soft tissue. While I don't know all of the facts about her circumstances, it re-awakened my curiosity and confirmed what I had previously suspected.

The road from Austin to Boston to Colorado is more than about the book now. As Robert Frost said in his poem, 'Way leads unto way'. I was lead to Lily's Haven for a reason.

What we're going to study first is the causal relationship between infections, immune response, and cancer. It'll take us a little time to put this together but in the interim, we welcome your feedback, input, and involvement.

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