Thursday, February 28, 2013


Rare Diseases.  Today, there is a global initiative to bring together the communities and the researchers.  

Even though the diseases are rare, there are many living with rare diseases.  According to statistics, there are more than 60 million people afflicted by over 6000 rare diseases in the US and Europe alone.  Not such a rarity.

Doing my part to share this information with as many people as possible.  Take some time to look around the website.

If I were a bit more coherent, I'd share much of the information here rather than suggest clicking the link.

I'm still recouping from a bone graft in my jaw.  Not complaining, just observing that the recovery is taking longer than I expected.  I thought I'd skip out of the oral surgeon's office, use the pain meds and be loopy but functional.  It didn't play out exactly as I hoped or planned.

Today, I'll be watching a hashtag hoping to see a global push on behalf of all of those living with rare diseases.  Tomorrow, I'll be watching Washington DC to see if spending cuts can be handled a bit more maturely.

Sunday?  I'll be singing Happy Birthday to Mom..... 

And Monday, I will be back.  Swelling gone, pain gone, on the mend.  Trying not to think about the CT scan, the sinus lift and the implant -- all looming on the not so distant horizon.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013


MOM..... I know these posts get emailed to you..... Kindly please delete the email....and bypass the damn post.  PLEASE....

For the rest of you... and for mom who probably will NOT pay any attention to my plea, scroll a bit....

I've discussed risk factors a number of times.  I recently shared information I learned at Columbia about additional genetic testing that is available via BreastNext.  Last night, during Monday night's twitter chat, Dr. Julie Gralow was a guest participant.  She provided the link to the BROCA genetic test which is being done at University of Washington.

I did a run down of the genes they test in BreastNext and they are all included in the BROCA panel.

It may be time for me to consider this additional testing.

Hearing these words, spoken by my daughter, very matter of fact in her tone, called out from a different room.....  Kinda sorta really sucked. There was no emotion.  No fear (at least not in her voice).  It was just very plain and quite simple:

"I know I'm going to get cancer.  I just hope you're not around to see it."

It was like having a bucket of ice water poured over my head.

Thank you to everyone who sent me twitter support and love when I was still stunned, still trying to process those words. You ran to my side when I didn't want to be a fearless friend on January 4th and you ran again last night.

I've said it many times.  I have an axe to grind at every point in breast cancer research: prevention of disease, prevention of metastasis, prevention of death.

It all counts.  It's all important.  And it's all about to take a financial hit.  Unless someone pulls a rabbit out of a hat, SEQUESTRATION will go into effect this Friday.

Forget the Ides of March..... Beware the First Of March.

Monday, February 25, 2013


It's Oscar Monday and although I have a few thoughts about a few things, I'm only going to quote Ben Affleck as he stood on the stage when Argo was announced as Best Picture by Michelle Obama.  There was something quite humorous about Jack Nicholson handing the honors to the First Lady.  An odd duo, indeed.

Given the winner was a film about the collaboration between Hollywood and the government to rescue six Americans who were given safe haven by our Canadian friends in November of 1979, that the announcement came from the White House, although originally not thrilled with dragging anything political into this celebration given the dire state of this union, was a poetic hand off of the statue to the producers.

The best line of the night:

"And it doesn't matter how you get knocked down in life; that's gonna happen.  All that matters is: you've got to get up."  ~ Ben Affleck

Emphasis is mine.  As it happened, I watched the movie the night before.  I recall saying, "That's the winning film."  My statement was somewhat jaded.  Why WOULDN'T Hollywood award itself for its stellar behind the scenes involvement in what was a gutsy move by a man named Tony Mendez.  The book is being downloaded to my Kindle/iPad as I type:

ARGO:  How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History.

The movie was compelling.  The story is compelling.  The man is a hero.  The Canadians proved to be true allies.  It's the stuff of movies.  And it was real life.... the lives of six Americans, likely saved by Mr. Mendez.  I saw Flight (everyone remember the "chemobrain" clip I posted several days ago?) but I'm not much for movies so it's odd that I had any knowledge of anything beyond wardrobe malfunctions.

Given a comment by Charlize Theron, whom I happen to think is beautiful and genuine and one of the most talented actresses out there..... and a fabulous dancer.... and VERY tall.... I was disappointed that the documentary award was not given to "Mondays at Racine."

Since many of us pay little (or no attention) to those documentary films, I am going to get my hands on this film.

Racine Salon is located on Long Island.  They can be found on Facebook.  They are heroes and they are winners.  There are many places in this great nation where people can be found helping people.  Check that.  I'm sure I could rephrase that from "great nation" to "around the globe."  But the fact is, Racine Salon is in my backyard and that makes it extra special for me.

I need a touch up and I need a haircut and although this salon doesn't fit my usual first line criteria (no more than ten minutes from home), I will be scheduling an entire day pampering myself at their salon.  THIS is what advocacy looks like. THIS is what compassion looks like and I'm not, I'm really really really NOT taking a dig.  But THIS is what it looks like when you "buzz your head" ..... for anyone who might "highly recommend" that all women do this (buzz thing) at least once in their life.

The movie should be scheduled to be on HBO sometime soon.  Watch the trailer and then, reprinted in full from Magazine is the story behind the film.  Thank you Cynthia Wade for telling the story and thank you most of all to Cynthia and Rachel and thank you MOST especially to all of the breast cancer patients whose stories empower all of us.

They all "got up" and kudos for Cynthia Wade for noting that sometimes a story is just story and sometimes you end up being an "unintentional activist."  Here's to the (S)heroes and here's to the activists who make sure their stories are shared.

Mondays at Racine—Official Trailer from Cynthia Wade on Vimeo.

Mondays at Racine Documents Beauty Salon for Cancer Fighters

CreativeCOW presents Mondays at Racine Documents Beauty Salon for Cancer Fighters -- Indie Film & Documentary Feature

Santa Monica California USA

©2013 All rights reserved.

Filmmaker Cynthia Wade - who previously won an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject for Freeheld - has recently finished Mondays at Racine, a moving piece about two sisters who open up their beauty salon every Monday to cater to breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Focusing on two characters, the film delves deeply into the emotional lives of the women and how the salon, Racine, serves as a place of nurturing and companionship.

An Academy Award nomination isn't new territory for director Cynthia Wade, whose short subject documentaryMondays at Racine is nominated in that category. Among the numerous short documentaries she's made, she collected the gold statuette in 2008 for Freeheld.

This year, she's attending the Oscars with Mondays at Racine and some of this short documentary's main characters: Cynthia and Rachel, the two brassy Long Island sisters who open up their hair salon, Racine, every Monday to offer free beauty services for women undergoing chemotherapy, and Cambria, one of the women in the film undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Academy Award-winning Director Cynthia Wade
Mondays at Racine was an on-again and off-again project for almost three years, says Wade, who has been making films for almost 25 years. "HBO gives filmmakers so much freedom," she says. "I could have said I'll do it in six months or eight months, but sometimes these films are a labor of love and they don't look over your shoulder at HBO. It was a pleasure to take the budget and stretch it. A lot happens in 39 minutes." 

What attracts her to a project? "There are two types of documentary filmmakers: activists and storytellers," says Wade. "Sometimes the story is just a story, sometimes you end up being an unintentional activist. I like high stakes and tension and drama in the film with a strong subject and strong characters, and to do tell a powerful story of people facing insurmountable odds in a short film."

Wade found the story in Mondays at Racine from painstaking research. "This was my fifth film from HBO in a decade," she says. "It began from a side conversation about someone we knew who had to shave her head. Originally we thought it might be about nurses caring for patients going through cancer -- and there is a film that needs to be made about nurses. But my spider sense told me it was a more emotional film." 

"Then I found out that women either shave their heads in the privacy of their own home with loved ones, or in the salon where they've shared secrets and triumphs for years," she continues. "The relationship with a hairstylist can go on for years and be very close so it makes sense to go there. We started looking at salons that cater to women with cancer, and when we saw the Racine website, we called and they asked us to show up. We found two sisters with sass and humor who had lost their mother to cancer in the era when nobody used the word cancer. The fact was that they'd been offering these services quietly for ten years, and I thought that would be a good place to structure the film."

The characters of the sisters Cynthia and Rachel -- who brought some joy and levity into the film with their liveliness and humor -- also sparked her interest. "Casting is my strength -- to find the right people to tell a story that sheds light on the societal issue," she says. "The people and the connection and relationship to them is what really makes the work pleasurable and fulfilling to me.

Wade went to Racine every Monday for nearly two-and-a-half years as well as support groups and met many women over the weeks. "I chose two women whose stories complemented one another, " she says. "It's all about waiting, being patient, shooting, listening, and even following stories that don't end up in the film. You find out in editing what to keep and what to let go."

She shot Mondays at Racine with the Canon XL H1. "It is the last tape-based camera that I have used," says Wade, who also owns a Canon 5D and Canon 7D. "We started it just as shooting on cards was coming into existence and by the end, it was a bit of an outdated camera. But I was going for content over gloss and the Canon XL H1 is a workhorse camera. Given the longitudinal study of the film and that I shot a lot of it myself to get as much as three times the number of shooting days as was budgeted, this camera was the right choice." Wade also gave the women cameras to shoot video diaries and wove that footage into the film.

Working on a FCP 7 system, David Teague (who was also Wade's co-director of cinematography) worked with Wade to edit Mondays at Racine. Teague had edited several Wade documentaries, including the Oscar-winning Freeheld as well as the short documentary Born Sweet. "David and I have worked a lot together," she says. "We have the same vision. When we started this project, we both had offices in the same building in Brooklyn. By the end of the project, I was living in the Berkshires, so he ended up working alone. But I didn't need to be over his shoulder because we share the same brain. It was a pretty smooth process because we know each other so well."

Alex Noyes, who has a small sound studio, resound POST, in Brooklyn, completed the audio work. The team went toFinal Frame for the color correction, and Brian Bowoman at Nice Shoes did the animated titles, both in New York City.

After the Academy Awards, Wade is returning to a full plate of work. Freeheld is going into production as a fiction film directed by Peter Sollett and starring Ellen Page; Wade is a producer. "This is my first fiction film and I'm excited," she says. "I've always worked in non-fiction, and shooting it like fiction. It may be that I want to go into fiction. I'll have the chance to watch them work and see what that process is like. Then I'll be able to make up my mind." She is also developing a new documentary project for HBO, about an ecological disaster in Indonesia. And she continues to shoot commercials, which are informed by her work in documentaries. "I've increasingly been doing the docu-commercial work where it's real people in a setting," she says. "It's very high paced and all about the skill of casting and finding the story. It uses all my documentary skills in a commercial setting and delivering a story to a client that's selling something...but it also feels organic and natural."

Post-Oscars, Mondays at Racine is slated to air on HBO. If you like your documentaries full of heart and sass, sadness and humor, make sure to check it out.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Coincidental?  Ironic??  Clueless but I will give a nod to my pals over at Breast Cancer Action for sending this into the twitterverse yesterday afternoon:

It's in keeping with my outrage over "lab rats" and "informed consent" and this was quite serendipitous indeed.  I get to punctuate my point.  Personally.  Up close and personal, personally.

The link in the tweet is to the National Research Center for Women and Families where the following statement written by Dr. Diana Zuckerman appeared:

Yesterday the FDA quietly approved yet another questionable style of breast implants, the Natrelle 410 Highly Cohesive Anatomically Shaped Silicone-Gel Filled Breast Implant made by Allergan, Inc.
The FDA based its approval on data from 941 women, which is a very small sample. The FDA reports that the complications from these implants are similar to those for other breast implants: pain and hardness caused by scar tissue (capsular contracture), the need for additional operations to fix implant problems, the need to remove the breast implants because of problems, uneven appearance (asymmetry), and infection.  The studies also found cracks in the gel of some Natrelle 410 implants, which has not been found in other breast implants.
Unlike other breast implant approvals, the FDA did not hold a public Advisory Committee Meeting to discuss the data, nor did they make the study data public for these new breast implants.  What are they afraid of?  It seems likely that the FDA decided it was better to hide this information than to make it public at a meeting where implant patients could talk about the health problems that have been caused by these implants.
The silicone gel in the Natrelle 410 implant contains more cross-linking compared to the silicone gel used in Allergan’s previously approved Natrelle implant. This increased cross-linking results in a silicone gel that’s firmer. Cross-linking refers to the bonds that link one silicone chain to another. Some physicians believe this will make the implant last longer, but there is no evidence to support that because these implants have only been studied for 7 years.
The FDA admits that Allergan’s studies did not compare the safety and effectiveness of the Natrelle 410 implant to other previously approved silicone gel-filled breast implants on the market.
As a condition of approval for the Natrelle 410 breast implants, Allergan must:
    Continue to follow, for an additional five years, approximately 3,500 women who received the Natrelle 410 implants as part of the company’s continued access study;
   Conduct a 10-year study of more than 2,000 women receiving Natrelle 410 silicone gel-filled implants post-approval to collect information on long-term local complications (e.g., capsular contracture, reoperation, removal of implant, implant rupture) and less common potential disease outcomes (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, breast and lung cancer, reproductive complications);
   Conduct five case-control studies to evaluate whether women with Natrelle 410 implants, or other silicone gel-filled breast implants, are more likely to develop rare connective tissue disease, neurological disease, brain cancer, cervical/vulvar cancer and lymphoma;
   Evaluate women’s perceptions of the patient labeling; and
   Analyze the Natrelle 410 implants that are removed from patients and returned to the manufacturer.

Unfortunately, Allergan has not done a good job of doing post-market studies once their implants have been approved.  And, even if they do these studies, by the time these studies are done to find out what the risks are, hundreds of thousands of women could have these inadequately studied devices in their bodies, and could have been harmed by them.

Not sounding too good, is it?  If you care to see the FDA press release, it can be found here but Dr. Zuckerman did a terrific job of including all of the important information in the FDA announcement.

Why does any of this matter?  Obviously, there are risks associated with these particular implants and the long term evidence is not yet available.  Like Dr. Zuckerman, I'm a little bothered by the fact that they clearly indicate there are 3500 women walking around with these things yet they based their approval on the satisfaction of 941 women.  What about the other 2500 women?  Did they have problems?  Were they serious?  If it's standard procedure to hold a hearing, why was this rubber stamped behind closed doors?

Lots of questions and I would think we should all be entitled to the answers.  Wouldn't you agree?  It's possible I'd like the answers with a bit more urgency.  You see, I am a part of this study.  I may be one of the 941 women upon which the approval was based.  These particular implants have been in my body for almost six years.  I have no complaints and no issues.  I'm as happy as one can be to have foreign objects under the muscles on my chest.

Today, Magic 8 Ball says, "You will be in an MRI machine within the next two months."  My annual follow up with the plastic surgeon is in April.  I've been thinking about those 3D tattoos.  Mine are fading.  I think I should wait to make sure nothing is cracked.  My luck, I'll get the great tattoos and then wind up in an operating room having these things replaced.  IF that happens, however, I went into this will the full understanding of what I was doing.

Unlike the women in India, I have the 17 page consent form outlining every conceivable, imaginable, this could happen to one in every 2 million women obscure problem.  There was a long discussion before we got to page 17 where my signature appears.  I was informed.  I gave consent.  I KNEW the risks associated with my choice.

This is what "informed consent" forms look like (after they have been unstapled and fanned out):

Both the doctor and I signed this particular document, IN THE SAME ROOM at the same time, after everything was fully explained to me.

I was provided with the names of every possible person or agency with whom information about me could be shared:

I'm pretty sure it was over an hour before this signature was put on that INFORMED CONSENT  -------->

This was a 17 page document and it was crystal clear that I would be getting a copy.  Written in plain, easy to understand language, if I wanted to do something differently, I could go back and read, in detail without any missing information, exactly what I got myself into.  Or more accurately, what got (put) into me.

Somehow, I get the sense this is not even close to what happened with a over quarter of a million women in India who were part of the studies that still have me beyond infuriated.  Somehow, I don't think anyone took the time to review those forms with those women.  I doubt the full ramification of what the forms meant to those women was fully and properly explained when a large majority of the forms had this on that dotted line:

In the world of research, we should all be created equal.  Sadly, we have much work to do.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


The story finally has legs.  They are wobbly but they won't stay wobbly for long.  If I stay on the sidelines, I'm as guilty as those directly involved.  As of last night, the story appeared in just one publication.  It was posted on February 15th.
Bob Ortega wrote the piece for

It was no where else on the internet until last night.  In a 24 hour news cycle, for a story of this magnitude to take FIVE days to hit other media outlets... what's wrong with this picture?

What happened and where?  There were two research studies funded out of THIS country that should be all over the news. The NCI, that would be the National Cancer Institute began their study in 1997 enrolling 151,000 women from the slums of Mumbai, India.  The study was for cervical cancer which is highly curable if diagnosed early.  Half of the women were screened using vinegar to see if there were white areas in the cervix.  When we are called back for a colposcopy, the doctor uses a similar method to locate areas that will be sent for biopsy.  In this study, women who had abnormal tissue (in the form of white areas) were treated at no cost to remove the lesions.

What did they do with the OTHER half of the women?  The "control group."  The women in the control group were provided with health information and were told they could seek screening on their own.  First of all, these women were essentially treated like lab rats.  Tell a woman who is living in the slums of a third world country she can seek screening on her own???  From whom and with what money?

I'm so outraged over this, I can barely type.  In THIS country, control groups are not used as expendable subjects. Controls are provided with proper care if there is a standard of care.  In 2009, from the slums of Mumbai, reports were provided to the NCI about the 151K Indian women.  There was a significant difference between the two groups.  Cancer and pre-cancerous lesions in the women being screened were being found earlier and treated at a much earlier stage. However, the NCI continued the study and the 76K women in the control group were still "controls" and still not being screened.  The rationale?  They needed to continue to determine if there was a statistical significance in death due to cervical cancer between the screened and the unscreened women.

I WANT TO SCREAM .... You MUST be kidding me?  The endpoint of the study was DEATH from a disease that is treatable.  I have a serious problem with the way the study was structured.  How can this be acceptable to anyone with ANY shred of a sense of ethics or human decency??  At issue as I understand it, is informed consent.  For starters, the "sample" of the informed consent submitted with the grant application explained that PAP screening is the usual standard of care and there are facilities in India where PAP tests are performed.  That whole part about the PAP tests?  Somehow it got lost in translation.  Literally.  Those words did not make it to the copy provided to all of the women.

At the heart of that issue?  How can one provide true informed consent if they can not read?  First there is a faulty consent form and then, by their own admission, the researchers state that fewer than 5% of the women in the study can read.  My math sucks but that means upward of 145,000 women were in a research study that they likely did not fully understand. Thumbprints are affixed to the consent forms.

Bottom line?  As of 2009, only 142 women in the control group went for screening: 50 had full blown cervical cancer and 15 were already dead.  I wonder what happened to the rest of the 75K plus women who were not screened.  This study was brought to the attention Office of Human Research Protection (OHRP), a committee whose responsibility includes preventing the unethical use of humans in research experiments.  After much discussion, the doctors in Mumbai began testing the "controls."  They notified OHRP in November that they would be screening the controls.  The researcher claims the testing had nothing to do with the investigation of the OHRP and that it was already part of the study protocol.  Unimportant since there should never have been a "just go about your merry business and do nothing" control arm.  Period.  Those are OUR tax dollars.  Government funding.

And then, there is another study.  Also in India.  This one is being performed in poverty stricken rural areas and is funded privately by The Gates Foundation.  Those are your computing dollars, your operating systems (I've already switched teams in the computing world).  This study recruited just under 132K women and they were divided into four groups.  One group received PAP smears, one group received the visual vinegar test, one group had DNA testing for HPV which is the virus that causes cervical cancer and group number four.... ding ding ding... the controls.  They got nothing.  Except that same shoddy consent thing with the literacy issues and the thumbprints.  And instructions about seeking their own screening... in rural areas.  Interestingly, if the numbers were reported accurately, a far higher percentage of women in the rural control group sought independent screening.  Go figure.

There is a bit less information about the Gates study which is presently being investigated by the FDA. As of 2009, there were 64 deaths in the control group.  In January of 2011, the researchers funded by Gates Foundation began screening the nearly 32K women in the control group.  They are being tested for HPV (I'm not really sure that's the proper way to "screen" but I'm not a researcher so I'll leave that alone).  After over 2 years, they say they have screened "nearly half" of the controls.  They expect to have everyone tested by August.  Again with the numbers.  Let me understand this.  It took 25 months to screen (almost) 16K women and it will now take 7 months to screen the OTHER 16K+ women???  Sorry for being a skeptic but that sounds a bit like, "We got caught and we better get our asses in gear on the screening."

The footnotes.  These researchers proclaim that NO HARM was done to the women in the control groups because the average low income woman in India is receiving the same standard of care as those assigned to the control group: no routine screening.  This is the way we want to help those in developing nations?  Instead of bringing them much needed medical assistance, we use them as human lab rats, with the full knowledge and understanding that lives WILL be lost.

Daniel Wilker, a Harvard ethics professor believes there is a bottom line.  "When you recruit research subjects, you take on a responsibility that can't be ignored, you have to do the best you can for your controls."  The best certainly does not include death from something that is treatable and curable.  I call that a dark day and there is blood on plenty of hands. Right now, it's the blood of 79 women who likely did not have to die.  And, those are old numbers.  We will find out the real numbers later this year.  How many more have died over the past three plus years since those 79 deaths were reported?

The rest of the footnotes.  The main researcher on the Gates study is on the NCI Review Board for the other study.  How does that saying go?  Sounds a bit like the fox watching the hen house especially considering the NCI gave the go ahead for the study to continue until death.  And the women in the NCI study only JUST began the screening process within the past three months.  No verification of any screening is mentioned.  Only that the researcher told the NCI in November correspondence that screening would be (was being) done.  Besides skewing statistics and numbers, now we have to parse words because some are very carefully constructing their sentences to perhaps sound better than the reality.  Yeah.... I'm pretty damn disgusted by all of this in case that got lost in my tone and tenor.

And finally.... The whistleblower.  A big nod to Dr. Eric Suba, the San Francisco pathologist who lodged a formal complaint in May of 2011 against both of these studies.  And an even bigger nod to Bob Ortega for caring enough to do the investigative work and write what is a stellar piece of journalism.

A bit about Bob Ortega can be found here:  He was just presented an award by the Sidney Hillman Foundation.
To those of you thinking Tuskegee, she's got it covered here.
The complete article on AZCentral which I HIGHLY recommend reading in its entirety if you can stomach it....
USA Today Reprinted The Story
Star Gazette
Huff Post sends you to USA Today

I wonder why no one else has anything to say about this mess.  Where are the major networks?  Where is the television coverage?  Where is the outrage??

Maybe I'm shooting my big mouth off without proper information and that's why it hasn't been all over the news?  The whole thing is a massive mistake on the part of those who shared their information?  I get it.  Who cares about risking the lives of 107K impoverished women half way around the world?  After all, about 77K women died of this very disease in that same country in 2010.  In their own twisted minds are these researchers basking in the glow of the 175K women who they treated.

It's all about making a difference.  It's about leaving the place a little better than you found it.  It's not about this. Just Remember This:  The women who died showed up.  They stepped up for a research study.  THEY wanted to leave their piece of earth better than they found it.  They deserved far better and we, who know better, should hang our heads in shame.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


My post on May 31, 2012 was titled: "Who Is Jack Andraka?"  I am positively THRILLED to say that Jack is now getting well-deserved and even more well-earned attention from the masses.  I was a fan of this young man over eight months ago. Y'all may want to pay a bit more attention to my blogposts.  I'm  delighted I wrote this in May and I'm even happier to reprint it here today.

Last night, Jack was the invited guest in a tweet chat of Health Care LEADERS.  He was 15 years old when I wrote this piece.  At 16, we were all hanging on to his every tweet.  He talked about open access to research publications.  First, a few of my favorite tweets from last night and then, my original blog post.

Jack is going viral. He is going to appear on The Doctors. Tomorrow. He tweeted this last night.

And this afternoon.... Blog Radio...
And then, some of the best of what Jack had to say as I watched the screen scroll at warp speed....

A few things come to mind.  Someone PATTED him on the head and told him he didn't KNOW enough.  I double dare you to listen to the video embedded in the original blog post.  And I'll bet 98% of us can barely understand ANY of what he is saying.  He's resilient and persistent.  Yep.  Again, below.  Pay attention to how many researchers he sent his idea to before someone gave him a shot.

And best of all.... if he could use google to create a cancer sensor, imagine what other kids can do....  The biggest part of why this young man is so endearing.  Those words are sincere.  He's busy looking outward while the rest of us are spellbound.

Without any further commentary about what is happening now, in May I asked,

Who is Jack Andraka?

Do you know the answer?

I stumbled upon something from a news feed.  That's why I know his name.  Mostly, I saw a video.  Not THIS video, but another video.

This is Jack Andraka.  He is discussing his entry in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  He's 15 years old. He's a high school freshman.  He's a genius.  In this video, he explains his entry in far greater detail than I can comprehend.  It's a test to detect pancreatic cancer.  He targeted pancreatic cancer for personal reasons.  With some modifications, and IF IF IF I am understanding this, there may be a version of this test for both ovarian and lung cancer. Those are three major players in the "We Suck at Treating These Cancers Because We Generally Find Them At Very Late Stages" ......

Jack sent his proposed research plan to roughly 200 different people.  These young people do their work in REAL labs in collaboration with experienced researchers.  In Jack's case, that would be Dr. Anirban Maitra, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  He was the only one who was willing to give Jack an opportunity to explore his ideas and it was in the lab of Dr. Maitra that this groundbreaking test to detect pancreatic cancer was developed.

I have these strips that I use to test the water in my swimming pool.  I dip the strip into the water and compare the colors against those on the container.  I can determine, among other things, if the water is properly chlorinated and if the pH level is within an acceptable range.  All based upon the colors on the test strip.

Jack's test is similar.  It's NON invasive.  It's a dip-stick sensor to test either blood or urine for early stage pancreatic cancer.  When it's treatable.  The test held up in a study and it was found to be 28 times faster, 28 times LESS expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.  Accuracy?  Over 90% of the time, the test was accurate.

Jack is a young man who had an idea.  What sparked that idea to move him to these levels?  He says he had an idea when sitting in a biology class.  I say it was far more than "an idea" and kudos to Dr. Maitra for taking a chance.... for giving Jack a platform and the support to see where his idea would take him.

His idea will soon be taking him to The US Patent and Trademark Office.  The patent is pending.  The $75,000 prize that Jack says he will be saving for his college education?  Ah, the innocence of the young.  Does this exceptionally brilliant young man think he is actually going to PAY for his education?  The colleges have already lined up around the block with their offers of "a full ride."  He hasn't even taken his SAT's if he's following normal academic high school routine.  He's a FRESHMAN.  With FRESH ideas.

He can take the $75K and do what most other young men his age would do.  First, get mom some flowers for providing the transportation from school to the lab.  Not that mom wants them.  Mom's gift was just knowing Jack was working in a world class lab.  Making it to the finals?  The icing.  Winning?  There's really nothing on the mom-o-meter to properly capture the emotions she had to feel when she heard his name announced.  NONE.

So, Jack...... Rest assured.  College?  From undergrad through post doctoral..... all covered.

My suggestion, if I may?  Go buy a smokin' hot car.  That's what all guys in high school strive to achieve.  The First Car.  

Actually, there is a minor issue.  Jack is too young to drive.