User Input

User Input: A Brief Aside

My Uncle Gerry, with his youngest granddaughter.

I’m having a bit of a hard time coming up with an article for this morning, as I’ve just heard that my uncle is not doing well in his battle with cancer. Our family is a very close one, which is both a blessing and a curse; when things are good, we celebrate together, and in times of hardship, we go through that together too.

Quite a few years ago, they gave my uncle a couple of months to live. About two years ago, they said he had only weeks remaining. He’s still with us today, due primarily to a phenomenal strength of will, and a refusal to ever quit. Sadly, it’s sounding like the long battle is starting to take its toll on him. His strength, and his determination to survive has been an absolute inspiration to myself and my family, and we’re about as proud of him as is humanly possible. His stubbornness has allowed him to meet several grandchildren who doctors said he should never have known. He saw loved ones get married, and joined in family reunions, and we’re enormously grateful for the years of time we won with him. He’s been through several rough patches before, and we’re feverishly hoping that he pulls through this one again, but it’s entirely out of our hands. I know every member of my family would give every ounce of strength they could spare if it would help him just the tiniest bit, but it’s beyond our control. If love could cure cancer, he’d have this battle won already.

So you see, it’s very hard for me to concentrate on technology today, when all my thoughts are of a much more heart-and-soul direction, and I beg your indulgence this once.

So in my Uncle Gerry’s honour: What will be the next great breakthrough in medical technology?

  • Deartháir

    As it turns out, my uncle just lost that battle.

    Godspeed uncle. Godspeed.

    And my apologies for hijacking the topic for today. Hard to think of much else.

    • Mike_the_Dog

      I might think less of you if you didn't hijack the topic with this. Godspeed to your brave uncle and my thoughts and prayers (such as they may be from an agnostic) are with you and your family.

    • chrystlubitshi

      My condolences, friend. I don't have much else I can say, but I know how hard it is to lose a loved one that you're very close to.

    • P161911

      My condolences.

    • skitter

      Forgive me in advance.

      Because your uncle meant something to you, in some small way his life meant something to all of us. We take and we learn most from the people we are close to, in manner, in expressions, in wisdom. When we lose someone, we lose a part of ourselves. It is never completely gone, but it is missed; we can only wonder and remember. Our best hope is to pass along what knowledge we have to ease new struggles, or the same ones over again. Your best tribute is to take the roles for others that you had for each other. We are living memories of those who came before us. May we all find peace.

    • PowerTryp

      Your forthcoming attitude and honestness with us just shows that this isn't just a website for us to comment on but a community in which to draw support and strength.

      Our hearts go out to you and your family Mitch. Godspeed to your uncle.

    • The Professor

      My sincere condolences, Mitch. Take some time off and be with your loved ones, and remember your uncle fondly. As long as you have him in your heart, he's never really gone.

    • tiberiusẅisë

      Thank you for sharing. I am sorry for your loss and hope you find comfort in his memory.

    • For many of us, this is much more than just a silly website. It's an excuse to hang out with each other in a rag-tag virtual family of sorts. What affects one affects us all. My heart goes out to you and your family Mitch.

      In times of heartache, remember the smiles, and draw strength from the laughs. It's how we all want to be remembered.

      • Mitch, I can't say it as well as Pete just did, so please read his twice.

    • Mr_Biggles

      Thoughts are with you, Mitch. My condolences. I tip one back in your uncle's memory and another to you.

    • OA5599

      I spent a trying afternoon in the ER today with a family member who, as it turns out, apparently had a very bad reaction to something a different doctor used during an office visit. Everybody is home now, and fine other than anticipating the sticker shock when the bill comes.

      Your uncle's struggle puts all that back into perspective.

      My deepest condolences to the family.

    • No apologies necessary. Your topic of choice is a good one. You wrote in a way I feel I knew your Uncle.

      My deepest condolences,

  • SSurfer321

    I have lost many loved ones to cancer, which made it difficult to NOT physically assault the man in the following story.

    Out to a beer geek dinner in Detroit last fall. The gentleman sitting beside me tells me he is in the medical research field. After a few geek beers everyone relaxes and become more sociable. So I turn and ask him what he specializes in. He responds with "cancer research". So I ask how close they are to a cure. He responds with "Why the hell would we want to CURE cancer when we are making billions treating the symptons!" So disgusted in his response, I immediately paid the check on my way out the door.

    I guess the moral is: So long as medical research is for profit, I don't expect any breakthroughs in technology in the form of a cure.

    • Mike_the_Dog

      You should have punched him. Hard. Perhaps even in the babymaker. Just remember, not all Detroit-area beer nerds are such colossal douchebags.

    • CaffeineFuelled

      Karma would see that dipsh*t getting a terminal form of cancer. I bet he'd change his opinion then.

      • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        No, karma would be for him to lose someone he loved to a long battle, but I don't wish that on anyone. Seriously, if the guy said that, he was some dweed and does not have the mental faculties to ever make any discovery anyway. He was probably the guy that ordered office supplies, delivered the mail, or something like that. Also I hope you all feel better soon, it's terrible.

    • You should have slugged him. I work in cancer research and hope to one day have to find work in another field.

      Honestly, the nerve of some people.

      • pj134

        Out of curiosity, how do you feel about the article I linked to below?

        • That's an interesting article. I hadn't heard about fluoxetine being thought of as a primary treatment (it's not uncommon to put folks in treatment on anti-depressants).

          The thing with new medical therapies, drugs, and devices is that it's hugely expensive to get them from idea to FDA approved (and thus billable to insurance) implementation. It takes years and many millions of dollars. I understand your frustration, Dr. Gordon seems to have an idea worthy of some pursuit.

          I hear about this sort of thing all the time. The latest was a physician who self funded a successful mini-trial (three patients) to cure their disease by giving them a modified version of the AIDS virus. Try getting that funded!

          Medical research is unfortunately more than the ideas of researchers. It needs to be paid for, and unfortunately sometimes a commercial entity's bottom line comes into play. That's not to say there aren't other ways to get your ideas funded, you just have to be creative. Perhaps Dr. Gordon has a career development grant he can use to fund an animal model?

          The thing we need to remember here is that drug companies don't call all the shots on clinical research. The NIH funds a ton of research. Your tax dollars at work! To get the creative, not commercially attractive, stuff researched, we need to make sure John Q Voting Public understands science isn't evil and votes that way. Embryonic Stem Cells aren't aborting babies, recreational drugs aren't all evil.

          Sorry for the rant, I'll get off my soapbox.

    • The Professor

      The dick probably thought he was being funny. You should have at least poured your beer over his head. What a douche (him, not you).

    • pj134

      Your a better man than I. There is no way that he wouldn't have had pieces of my mug embedded in his face shortly after that statement. Kind of like how these two paragraphs bring me very close to throwing my computer into traffic every time I read the second of these paragraphs:

      Gordon's research has also found that the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine) kills lymphoma cells in the test tube, at doses that are regularly used in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because the drug tends to concentrate in the brain, it may prove especially helpful against brain lymphoma, a rare and often deadly cancer that may affect people with AIDS.

      The researchers were so excited about the possibility that they patented the new cancer indication and tried to get pharmaceutical companies to fund clinical trials of fluoxetine. Unfortunately, none were interested. Prozac can be obtained so cheaply, now that it's off patent, that if even the drug were approved for the cancer indication, it wouldn't be profitable.

      Really interesting (and aggravating) article that can be found here:

      • FЯeeMan

        I fully understand the frustration engendered by that 2nd paragraph. Unfortunately, the red-tape piled on by the FDA means that drug companies must look at the profitability of what they're working on. As a former employee of the company that Prozac built (in the 90's), now that their new drug pipeline is flowing very thin, they're cutting people left & right. If they pursued research on a money losing proposition, that would be even more employees who would be out of jobs.

        It costs a company roughly $1.2 billion to bring a new drug to market. It's less for new indications for existing compounds, but still very expensive, and if there's no hope of return, they just won't do it. Of course, Prozac is readily available, and many doctors will prescribe it for off label purposes, so people can try it out on their own… many don't want to take that risk, they want the company to take it for them.

        It's a double-edged sword, and it bites on both swings. Doesn't make either one right, that's just the way it is. Maybe Gordon (from your quote) could take on the research to get it past the FDA and on the label…

        As for SSurfer's beer-drinking acquaintance. Very sad, but very true. Many of the researchers are very good people with good hearts, but they're over ridden by the suits on mahogany row who are responsible for bringing in profit.

        And, finally, back OT… I'm very sorry to hear about your loss, Mitch. My prayers are with you and your family.

        • pj134

          You would think a that there would be a large drug company like the various ones in my area that would want to present itself as the altruistic drug company and start a non profit side that conducts the trials based on donations while not taking losses for their investor side.

  • $kaycog

    I'm so sorry for your loss, Dearthair. I know the pain of losing a loved one to cancer. I pray for strength for you and your family.

  • Lotte

    I've just written a limerick about poo, if that will make you feel any better.

    But seriously, sorry for your loss. Your uncle might not be here anymore, but your memories of him are for yours to keep.

  • alex

    Cancer Blows. I had a melanoma 28 years ago and am still kicking, but it scared the living shit out of me.

    A very close friend had 2 tumors collectively over 15" long removed from his abdomen last Fall. He's fine now, but while he was sick, I read a wonderful book on the history of cancer called The Emperor of All Maladies. It is a stirring and inspirational account of how researchers have chased this monster for over 2500 years.

    My deepest sympathies to you, your uncle and your entire family. I am not agnostic and do pray, and will remember your uncle.

  • Deartháir, we have become pretty good friends despite the fact we have never met in real life. Such is the magic of the internet and sites that promote community. When I saw just a few minutes ago that you had lost a beloved family member my heart sank. Some would think this is silly, since I've never met you in real life. But it isn't. And I hope that when times are tough, you remember that there are a lot of people out here on the other end of an interweb tube that care for you.

    That being said, you're Irish. You don't mourn the loss of a family member by sitting around moping. Nope, you get together with other family members and friends and drink all the liquor you can find while remembering the life…nay, celebrating the life of your uncle. I best be hearing of a shortage of hooch in western Canadia tomorrow or I'm going to have to come up there, smack you upside the head, and show you how to grieve. 😉

    • RahRahRecords

      I don't know about the rest of you but I shall lift one (or several) in honor of Dearthair's uncle. 🙂
      All kidding aside, you and your family have my deepest condolences.

    • Mike_the_Dog

      Well said. Much closer to the way I feel than I could possibly say. thank you.

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    I'm sorry to hear about this sadness that your family went through, take care.

  • SSurfer321

    My sincere condolences. I think I speak for all of us Burnt Crumbs when I say: Let us know if there is anything we can do.

  • zaddikim

    I just saw a post on Gizmodo(?) about an adeno-virus that attacks breast cancer cells, so if we can count on anything to be able to kick cancer's ass, it's stuff like that.

    • pj134

      Their finding that MDMA can help fight certain types of brain cancer. There's a link above if you you are interested.

  • Deartháir

    Thanks very much for the kind sentiments, everyone. I feel horribly selfish for sidetracking the site for my own personal dramas, but it's great to realize be reminded that we have such an awesome family of commenters here. Your collective kindness has really touched me, and I won't soon forget that.

    Uncle Gerry was the man who, just before he was diagnosed with cancer, welcomed me into his home when I was posted in Kamloops for a new job. I was looking for an apartment, and he and my Aunt were absolutely appalled at the very concept. At their insistence, I stayed with them for many months while working a new job, and they wouldn't even entertain the idea of me paying rent or somehow repaying their kindness. That, they told me, is what family is for. When you need someone, they're there for you, no questions asked.

    This little community defined itself as a family in my mind today. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

  • I came to say something sentimental, but have seen so many of my friends post things greater than any thoughts I have.

    Celebrate the way he touched everyone's life, for this is how he will always be remembered.

  • B72

    I'm always at a loss for words at times like this. Everyone else was so eloquent, so I'm going to go with "What they said".

  • highmileage_v1

    Condolences Mitch. Having been through the same thing many times in the past 10 years, I can sympathize. I won't try to repeat the sentiment that the other commentators have so eloquently stated. Remember your Uncle, but move forward, always go forward.

  • Sorry to read this, Mitch. Warmest wishes to those who survive him from here on the wrong side of the pond.

    My bottle of Adnams Innovation Ale will be lifted to Uncle Gerry tonight.