Friday, June 3, 2016

#155 / Cancer Lessons

The New York Times Magazine for May 15, 2016 is devoted to an exploration of "The New Anatomy of Cancer." I recommend it. Two statements particularly caught my attention: 

The Improvisational Oncologist 
In cancer cells, mutated genes corrupt the normal physiology of growth and ultimately set loose malignant proliferation. This characteristic sits at the heart of all forms of cancer: Unlike normal cells, cancer cells have forgotten how to stop dividing (or occasionally, have forgotten how to die).
Learning From The Lazarus Effect 
Cancer is a monster, but in its fierce evolutionary tendencies, it is grasping, as with anything else in nature, for a way to be in the world. Life on earth has invaded the air, the deep sea, the bedrock. Over eons, it has suffered meteor storms, volcanic dystopias, shifting continents and deprivations beyond counting, and yet it always comes back stronger. With cancer, biology’s fierce insistence — its resilience, its ceaseless creativity, its sheer generative capacity — is the enemy. With cancer, the opponent is life.

If we can use cancer as a metaphor, the lesson is that life is a circle, not an unending extrapolation. When we refuse to recognize and respect limits (and the ultimate limit to our individual lives, death), the result is destructive to life itself. 

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1 comment:

  1. Your conclusion makes no logical sense. How does life being a circle follow from using cancer as a metaphor? What does it mean for life to be an unending extrapolation? How is this different from a circle? Minutes of the day can be mapped onto a circle (the clock face) and they have no end. How does the refusal to recognize and respect limits destroy life itself? Realizing limits won't save you from cancer.


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