21 December 2010

Science! It Works, Bitches

Randall Monroe, the author of the acclaimed xkcd webcomic is apparently suffering from a serious illness in the family, and I have linked to his posts on it before. I didn't really expect we'd be part of the same club so soon, but there it is. He continues to draw, and this one really hit me home: 

 

Sickness

 

I was thinking the same thing the other day. I am so profoundly grateful that we live in the time we do. Ten years ago, the HER2 receptor was associated with poor outcomes. Now, with the advent of Herceptin, that is much better. The data suggests that Herceptin reduces the risk of relapse by as much as 50% compared to traditional treatment. I spent a lot of time working on monoclonal antibodies during my lab days in the early nineties, and it is painstaking work. (My own lab career was cut short by a couple on incidents, one involving a broken hose and a flood in the lab and another when somehow half the lab became radioactive.)  But the hard work and the science continue to bear dividends, and in this case, we are the beneficiaries.

Yay Science!

 

(also, the tag line is an inside joke for long-time fans of xkcd. The phrase is available at the xkcd store on a t-shirt.)

15 comments:

  1. Also: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/cancer

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yep, friends are always so greatful to Jesus when their cancers go into remission or are cured.

    I have to bite my tongue to ask them why Jesus gave them cancer in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I want to thank you so much for posting this. I'm an atheist, my fiance a non-practicing Baptist. We have a huge mutual respect for each other and our individual beliefs. Today I went to his parents' pastor to see if he would perform our wedding ceremony. He freaked out when he asked what my beliefs were and went on and on about how science supports the Bible, mentioned tons of "studies" that support his theory (which we looked up after we got home and *BOTH* found were bunk) and then said he wouldn't marry us. I needed this reinforcement today.

    My mom survived thyroid cancer in the 80's and got diagnosed with breast cancer about 8 years ago. Her heart disease was what eventually took her in 2008. I know your wife will do great!

    ReplyDelete
  4. RE:I have to bite my tongue to ask them why Jesus gave them cancer in the first place.

    Same goes for science. You credit science for saving you, yet would we have rates of cancer without nuclear waste and such pollution?

    Example of "The satellite’s SNAP-9a generator contained 17 kCi (630 TBq)[31] of 238Pu (2.1 pounds)"
    wiki/List_of_military_nuclear_accidents

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh and ps, as an ethical culturist/ secular humanist ( check out www.ethicalsociety.org) i deeply appreciate your post from today.

    science: it's real, AND magically wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dr. Edwin Leap, blogger and ER doctor in South Carolina, has also recently encountered canceer in his family.

    http://edwinleap.com/blog/

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am an oncology nurse who doesn't think it's an either/or proposition. I absolutely believe in science and it's benefits, but that doesn't mean there is no place for faith in God as well. Science has it's limits while faith addresses what is, and what may always be, beyond our human and/or scientific capabilities.

    Either way, I am hoping (praying?) for you and your family a wonderful outcome.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Jo at the Head Nurse blog http://head-nurse.blogspot.com/
    is in recovery from oral cancer.

    I think we sometimes get the idea that medical staff (and their families) don't get sick, but it turns out we all live in the same fragile temples.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I know that science didn't start it, but the Team Science versus Team Faith divide is unhelpful. It inhibits understanding and leads to unnecessary generalizing.

    I am a devout Christian who does not believe in divine intervention. So, I would not alter a treatment regime based on my faith. However, I do think faith can help someone to endure his or her suffering. I don't know, but I suspect mental and emotional well being can be helpful. Is it necessary to describe tools that help in those areas as "weapons" like science is a weapon? I don't know, but it seems to me that they are valuable tools.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's all a matter of perspective, I suppose. I read this not so much as an anti religion piece as an affirmation of science. He does go out of his way to point out that it is personal and unique to himself and "I begrudge nobody their sources of solace." So I read this as a straightforward "Yay Science!" rather than a "Religion sucks!" I suppose when someone says that they don't need religion there is a fairly explicit rejection of religion, but again, he does not generalize it to the point that everybody should reject religion or religion is somehow wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well, also "Science! It works, bitches!" might suggest that science is real and the other stuff is fake but tolerable. Of course, you were posting it as a celebration of science not as a condemnation of religion, or trying to start some abstract discussion on the topic. But I do not list sensative person or good listner among my skills.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am with science all the way. I do think a positive attitude never hurts though, and it seems like (at least on your blog, who knows in real life I guess) you are feeling pretty positive even if it is so scary.

    ReplyDelete
  13. http://allanhamilton.com/wordpress/?p=235
    Story from a doc about his patient with cancer and her husband. Remarkable!
    Best to you and Liza.

    Hey, good advice - when trying to make a decision - imagine swallowing the decision - if it goes down easy it is the right decision - if you can't swallow it in your mind - it is not the right decision. I have used this for years and it always works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That is a great cartoon.

    I hope science catches up to me soon.

    M

    ReplyDelete
  15. How is science working today bitches?
    "the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex"
    "We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool. And we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures."

    ReplyDelete