Cancer – The Rebellious Child of the Family

September 15, 2013 Trisha Han Uncategorized

In the past forty years, the most exciting discovery made in modern medicine has inarguably been the oncogene, or the gene linked to cancer.  At first, medical researchers were thrilled, because they thought they had discovered the key to curing cancer. Soon, however, they realized that the oncogene is present not only in cancerous cells, but in all of the body’s healthy cells also; in cancer cells, the oncogene is merely mutated, or expressed at a higher level.  Cancer, it could be said, is part of the family. What this means is that cancer is a lurking possibility in all cells, when healthy body cells transform into cancerous ones.  Sadly, there is no way to monitor this kind of insidious transformation.  We are limited to discovering the cancerous cells after they have already been irreversibly altered; much like the well-behaved child of the family that suddenly flies into a murderous rage, by the time the change has occurred, it is already too late.

So we seek answers–who has turned our child into a violent, rebellious teenager? We have pinpointed a number of carcinogens–substances known to cause or increase the risk of cancer–that humans are often exposed to in their daily lives; these include nitrosamines (found in  many processed foods), benzopyrene (found in coal tar), nicotine (found in cigarettes), and aflatoxins (substance produced by mold that grows in nuts, legumes, seeds).  We try to prevent our children from coming into contact with these dangerous toxins, but they are everywhere. Barbeque, food flavoring, food coloring, preservatives, the countless pesticides used on our produce, car exhaust fumes, polluted drinking water…the list goes on and on.  With constant exposure to so many toxins, the better question is–what doesn’t pose a threat to our body’s cells?

When the rebellious teen becomes more and more problematic, we can only hope that his siblings can watch over him and guide him in the right direction, punishing him when necessary.  However, they are too softhearted, and instead turn a blind eye to his misbehavior. Similarly, we rely on the body’s immune cells, the macrophages and lymphocytes, to destroy cancerous cells. But the immune cells do not recognize them as harmful cells at first, and allow them to continually proliferate.  When the body finally does launch its autoimmune response, the damage is irreparable, and the malignant tumor must be taken out with extreme methods (e.g. surgery, chemotherapy).  Often, that is not the end of the problem. The rebellious teen reappears periodically and the fights continue, becoming an endless series of intense, exhausting battles.

The metaphor may be a stretch, but the nightmarish feeling is the same in both situations, along with the same lingering question: is it possible to escape this endless cycle?

Current cancer research focuses on the body alone, but humans are comprised of both the body and mind. If research does not factor in the psychological state of humans, then our findings will end up benefitting only animals and cadavers, not live human beings.  Cancer cannot be eradicated, just as we would not kill our child because of his or her wrongdoings.  If given love and support, or lent a listening ear, there is a chance our child could go back to being the well-behaved individual he once was.  The same could occur if the body is nurtured with a healthy state of mind and a positive attitude. Recent studies have already proven that cancerous cells, in the right conditions, can convert into healthy somatic cells again.

Cancer may be dreaded and feared by all of us, but don’t be without hope.  The mind and the body, when working together, can make miracles occur. With a healthy mentality, any kind of healing is possible.

 


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