September 6th, 2011


[links] Link salad strikes back

Don’t forget the new Endurance ARC contest: [ | LiveJournal ]

A nano-sized electric motorScientists have downsized the electric motor to the molecular level. That is, they’ve created an electrical motor that’s the size of a nanometer. About 60,000 of them equal the width of a human hair.

Room Temperature Superconductivity Claimed for CupratesBut there’s a catch–the room temperature effect appears only inside superconductors that work at lower temperatures, say physicists.

Why state surveys asked about bras and haddockFrom bra ownership to television interference, the government has wanted to know some strange stuff about people in the UK. Now a history of social surveys reveals why.

Why are carrots orange? It is political — Dutch politics at that. (Snurched from the archives of Surviving the World.)

A Year of Biblical WomanhoodAn evangelical blogger is spending 12 months following the Bible’s instructions for women—and she’s doing it for egalitarian reasons. Ok, I think this is nuts for a whole bunch of reasons, but I also respect what this woman is doing. At the least she’s striving for the consistency so profoundly absent from Christianist politics and culture.

The Great Bank Robbery — How the money flows in the United States. (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

Obama asks if GOP will ‘put country before party’ — Given that Senate Minority Leader McConnell’s stated top legislative priority is to ensure that Obama is a one-term president, I think this question answers itself.

?otD: Are you Luke’s father?

Writing time yesterday: 2.5 hours (5,200 words on Sunspin)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.0 hours (fitful)
Weight: 224.2
Currently reading: Excession by Iain M. Banks

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


[cancer] How will we know if the chemo has succeeded?

I get asked fairly often if the chemotherapy course will be successful, or how we will know if it has succeeded.

The short layman’s (ie me, not being a clinician) answer is that we won’t.

All we will know is if we have failed, should the cancer come back as yet another metastasis. Success, in this context, is defined at best as an ongoing lack of failure.

Oncology is in this respect a peculiar discipline. An orthopedist knows when a broken bone has set and healed. An internist knows when a course of infection has been repelled. An obstetrician knows when the baby has been delivered. All of those are affirmative measures of success. Cancer can be an acute condition, like bone fractures or the flu, but its treatments far more resemble the managed approaches to chronic conditions.

In my case, once my chemotherapy course is completed, we’ll do bloodwork and medical imaging. As I’ve discussed before, there are four basic tests for whether I have a recurrence of metastatic disease.

Three are noninvasive imaging techniques, CT, PET and MRI, which respectively measure tissue density, metabolic activity and structure. (Again, this is my layman’s perspective.) Tumors are almost always more dense than the surrounding tissue, almost always more metabolically active than the surrounding tissue, and have distinctive structural characteristics.

The fourth test is an assessment of the presence of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in my bloodstream, which is normally not present in healthy adults, or present at trace levels, but which my particular type of cancer can produce in measurable and even high levels.

So in December we’ll baseline my CEA levels and do a CT scan to see if any new metastatic tumors have appeared. Neither of these tests can detect ‘seeds’, small clumps of a few cancer cells that may be migrating through my lymph system or bloodstream, and which in turn can anchor onto healthy tissue and develop into new metastatic tumors. The point of chemotherapy is to kill off those seed cell clumps, but success cannot be directly measured, only inferred by a lack of further metastatic disease.

If I can stay clean on CEA levels and CT scans for five years, I will be considered cured. Until then, every few months I will go through the highly stressful process of being checked. Checks that have twice now revealed metastatic disease despite the best hopes and efforts of my medical team.

There is no affirmative measure of success in this business except for survival. Much like life itself, in truth.

Still, one might wish for more.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


[writing|process] Weekend reacharound

I made several posts on writing, process and Sunspin this past weekend. Since many of you were away from your keyboards, I thought I’d repost them here in case you’re interested in what you missed.

Drafting speed, and the perils thereof [ | LiveJournal ]

Keeping score on my novels [ | LiveJournal ]

Minor note on Sunspin and outlines [ | LiveJournal ]

Originally published at You can comment here or there.