Log in

No account? Create an account
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-05-29 14:26
Subject: [child|cancer] The Child asks questions
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, child, health, personal
Lately the_child has been asking a lot of questions about cancer. We've discussed the basic mechanism (cell division error), the primary treatments (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy), the idea that there are many sorts of cancer and it's not a unitary disease at all. These conversations are episodic, and she returns to the topic from time to time.

Last night she asked me if the cancer of one of her friend's mothers would return. I said I had no way to know, but this led to a discussion of metastasis, and the preference of certain cancers for specific organ systems. For example, mine is colon cancer, tubovillous adenocarcinoma, with a strong metastatic preference for lymph, liver and lungs, so we discussed how my metastases were unlikely to occur in my brain or my stomach or my kidneys.

Then she asked a question that surprised me considerably. "Does cancer go where there are the most nutrients, or where the body is weakest?"

Somebody's been explaining the germ theory of disease to this child.

So we talked about the difference between diseases with external vectors, ie, infections, and cancer, which is a mistake the body makes in its own internal processes and not dependent on the same factors as viral or bacterial infections. She informed me that our bodies had plentiful germs naturally that belonged there, which I allowed as how this was true. I compared resident intestinal flora to opportunistic rhinovirus to illustrate her point.

Sometimes the_child is my little girl, sometimes she's a sophisticated thinker. Well, really, she's both all the time, but the emerging adult, visible down the long, difficult hallway of stormy adolescence, drops in occasionally to surprise me most pleasantly.

Post A Comment | 3 Comments | | Link

User: cathshaffer
Date: 2010-05-29 22:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You can tell her that tumors build their own blood supply to provide the nutrients they need, and that many cancer drugs are based on interrupting blood vessel formation. She would probably find that interesting.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: e_bourne
Date: 2010-05-29 22:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And who knows what doorways these conversations are opening for her into her own future. Chemist? Micro biologist? Medical activist? Or something that doesn't exist yet, but will by the time she gets there.

It's been wonderful (and astonishing) to learn what conversations, questions, interests of ours led Austin into his own pathways of exploration into anthropology, -not- a place I thought he'd ever go. But there it is. We just don't know what the ripples of our voices and experiences will have on the next generation, and I kind of love seeing what happens next.
Reply | Thread | Link

User: madrobins
Date: 2010-05-30 06:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is one of the fascinating hard things about childhood and parenting: kids can go from zero to sixty, or baby-to-sophisticated thinker, in the space of a blink (and back again). Keeping up, doing the nurturing bits when needed and providing pushback for the thinking bits, can make an adult dizzy.
Reply | Thread | Link

my journal
January 2014
2012 appearances