Friday, June 26, 2009

Peaceful, warm and a golden sunrise

And so I find myself relaxed, quiet and peaceful and playing with some of my photographs again.  This sunrise really sang to me today and I thought of Nick and Diane and family who are struggling really hard to fight off the effects of cml.  I wish them all the peace  and the quietness that this picture conjures, and then tons more.  

Love and light

Sunday, June 21, 2009

African thunderstorm (click on this link)

The beginning part especially of this is just incredible...... it makes me feel it from the soul.  Close your eyes and just listen and imagine that storm. 
Just listen - its awesome.
love and light

Saturday, June 20, 2009

life and miracles..

I am in a good mood, very happy with my life right now and at the same time I am mad, angry and all upset.  The good mood is what is keeping the upper hand, right now, but every now and again the scary part of life pokes itself though like a hernia.  And then I wonder why I write about it - well, because it's part of my life, part of life with cancer in one of my kids and it's real. Also, if I write it, then it's a way of getting it out in a deeper sense, a sort of letting go and moving on.
So, what am I angry about? When I see Steven looking so well, with his life unfolding in front of him, his laughter, his joys, frustrations and his day to day stories and dreams, when I listen to all of this and cml is forgotten it's so good.  And then a simple comment that is made by millions, makes my hackles rise........ "I have lost two pounds, mom", says he with a smile and a totally unworried attitude.  I mean, what is the problem with that?  Well, my mind immediately scrolled through a hundred questions at the speed of light - how are you feeling? does your left side feel swollen, are you less hungry than before?  how...? is......? do....?.....  And cml is squarely back in the limelight.  Just for a moment.
Mostly it's gone in the blink of an eye again - but it's like someone blowing an enormous pink face-covering bubble gum bubble in room when it's least expected.  After it's all back in place, one wonders if it ever happened, and life moves on.  But it happened.
I get angry when I see other youngsters battling this disease and not having a good time of it at all.....  A bone marrow transplant is supposed to 'fix' it and yet I read of people battling other devastating issues created from the gvhd after the transplant.  This is not right, this is not fair and these are the things that make me angry - it should be us oldies getting this stuff, not the 'kids'!
Cml is not in my mind nearly as much as it used to be even a year ago, but there is no use in pretending that it's not there or that I am not keenly aware of how Steven looks and feels.  I really am very fortunate that he is doing so incredibly well and not a day goes by that I dont fervently hope that it continues.
The other side of the cml coin is that it has made me realize that life really is short, vulnerable and very precious.  I try to look at each day as a treasure - without getting too soppy about it, and each time I talk to or see my kids, grandkids, family or friends, I know that that might be the last and I try to make it better than it would have been without that thought.  I cannot say I always succeed - but heck, I try.  
Every day is a miracle that we are all able to be all we are and then tomorrow, today becomes a wonderful memory.  Maybe this is the miracle of living life - the Memory of the Miracle.
Enough rambling........ Big hugs to Diane and Nick...... I SO hope you are doing better tonight.
love and light
ps - the photo is of a grey whale with her newborn calf who visited us in Mexico - I just love the way they stick together...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Die, cml cells, die!!

Bar HarborMaine – In the battle against cancer, allies can come from unexpected sources. Research at The Jackson Laboratory has yielded a new approach to treating leukemia, one that targets leukemia-proliferating cells with drugs that are already on the market.

Jackson Adjunct Professor Shaoguang Li, M.D., Ph.D., who now has a laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, led a research team that identified a gene involved with the inflammatory response that could hold the key to treating or even preventing chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a lethal cancer.

In research published in the journal Nature Genetics, the researchers also showed that an asthma medication for human patients is an effective treatment for CML in mice.

The gene, Alox5, processes essential fatty acids to leukotrienes, which are important agents in the inflammatory response. But according to the researchers, Alox5 has a more sinister side. It is vital to the development and maintenance of cancer stem cells.

Cancer stem cells are slow-dividing cells that are thought to give rise to a variety of cancers, including leukemia, and to be critical for maintaining them. Researchers theorize that cancer stem cells must be targeted for effective treatment of many cancers, but direct evidence is still lacking.

The researchers found that CML did not develop in mice without Alox5 because of impaired function of leukemia stem cells. Also, Alox5 deficiency did not affect normal stem cell function, providing the first clear differentiation between normal and cancer stem cells.

Li also treated mice with CML with Zileuton, an asthma medication that inhibits the Alox5 inflammation pathway, as well imatinib, commonly known as Gleevec, the most effective current leukemia medication. Imatinib effectively treated CML, but Zileuton was more effective. The two drugs combined provided an even better therapeutic effect.

The Jackson Laboratory is seeking patent protection on the novel approach to treat CML that Li and colleagues have demonstrated.

The exact mechanism for the Alox5 gene in regulating the function of leukemia stem cells but not normal stem cells needs further study, but it appears that the two types of stem cells employ different pathways for self-renewal and differentiation. The findings provide a new focus of study into how leukemia stem cells are distinct from normal stem cells and how they can be targeted in cancer therapies. A future clinical trial targeting Alox5 will provide the first anti-stem cell strategy in cancer therapy. It is likely that other cancer stem cells will have specific pathways that also differentiate them from their normal stem cell counterparts.


Li conducted the research primarily at The Jackson Laboratory, with collaborators at UMass Medical Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard inBoston.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution based in Bar HarborMaine, with a facility in SacramentoCalif. Its mission is to discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human diseases, and to enable research and education for the global biomedical community. The Laboratory is the world's source for more than 4,000 strains of genetically defined mice, is home of the mouse genome database and is an international hub for scientific courses, conferences, training and education.