No More Lonely Nights When Our Plans Dont Go As We Intended

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”~Proverbs 19:21 

Less than a month ago—straight out of the clear blue sky—you announced you were going to, “Go the way of Paul McCartney…”

I don’t think there’s another soul on Earth who would have instinctively, intuitively, instantly understood the shorthand of your meaning when you said that, but I immediately knew.

We picked up on the finer subtleties of each other’s nuances for 35 years in the way that most couples do. I knew exactly what you meant. Gosh—we could’ve won a lot of money on a game show.

You went on to explain yourself anyway…

I don’t want to spend anymore nights away from you.”

You were tired of traveling with your job. You loved your work, but half of the restaurants you supervised were in other cities and you were weary of spending too many lonely nights at The Holiday Inn Express telling me good-night over the phone.

You said you’d been thinking about it and you just didn’t believe in it anymore. Not for us anyway. “Life is too short,” you said.

We had often discussed the great love affair and devotion that former Beatle Paul McCartney had for his wife, Linda Eastman McCartney. Rumor has it the only night they ever spent apart was when Paul was incarcerated in Japan on drug possession charges.

We were intrigued by their rarified devotion to one another.  Especially for celebrities.  

We also discussed on many occasions how prophetically ironic it was that Paul was so committed to her since he could never have known she was destined to die so tragically and unforeseeably young from breast cancer.

Not long after you made your proclamation, you arranged for the promotion of someone younger you trusted within the company to take over those restaurants that required travel, even if that meant sacrificing a little of your influence and power in the workplace.

was surprised and yet not at all surprised. I know you were at a point in your career where you felt like you had earned the right and had nothing left to prove.

That was just a few weeks ago. We were so close to our “McCartney Plan.”  We could almost reach out and touch it.  Gracie even gifted us with a Paul and Linda McCartney Coffee Table Book for Christmas, which will forever remind me of how our love story was so similar and parallel to theirs.

Back when you traveled, you’d often fuss at me when you arrived home to find I had turned the air conditioner setting on full-blast and then plugged in our heating pad and placed it on your side of the bed to pose as my PROXY HUSBAND over there radiating pretend body heat to keep me warm.

But I was just so accustomed to a lifetime of you keeping me warm and secure at night.

Our kids always got entirely grossedout when I told people in public that you and I slept curled up around each other like a litter of newborn kittens. They were particularly offended when we referred to ourselves as spooners

Remember our first apartment? We couldn’t afford a bed AND a couch so we had a twin bed that we set up to look like a couch with throw pillows on it by day and then we slept on it at night. So basically, we slept together in a twin bed the first three years we were together.

My mom, who had the gift of prettying things up with language, called it a “Studio Bed” And, didn’t we think that sounded so chic and sophisticated?

Most of our friends were surprised we never graduated to a King sized bed all those years we were married, but I remember it like it was yesterday when we finally moved up to a Queen.  

I was kind of sad about it.

And I think we only finally relented to the call of the Queen mattress because all our darn kids insisted upon sleeping with us. We were constantly waking up with a toddler’s toe stuck inside one of our nostrils.

Anyway… I really miss you curled up around me now.  It’s truly unbearable at night. So I hope you don’t mind, but I’m running the air conditioner at full blast in February and I’m setting up my makeshift “Heating Pad Hubby” on your side of the bed.

He doesn’t snore.

He doesn’t get inadvertently tangled up in my hair.

He doesn’t reach out for me in his sleep for a snuggle.

I’m resigned that he will never croon “Baby I’m Amazed,” in my ear.

But, he does his bit to put off a little heat from your side of the bed, which works to fool me as I sleep that maybe you are still there beside me…

**Editor’s Note: Leslie’s husband was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident two weeks ago. See more from her journey of navigating grief with grace and perseverance here

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced her breast cancer diagnosis in September 2017.
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus has posted a stunningly defiant photo of herself following surgery for breast cancer, alongside a “fuck you cancer” message. 

In September 2017, the Veep star announced her breast cancer diagnosis, and called for universal health care. 

Louis-Dreyfus has shared updates on Instagram throughout her treatment, including a video her sons made to celebrate her last day of chemotherapy. 

Now, months after her diagnosis, Louis-Dreyfus has shared her first photo taken after her surgery, stating that she’s “feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery.” 

“Hoorah! Great doctors, great results, feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery. Hey cancer, ‘Fuck you!’ Here’s my first post op photo,” she wrote. 

Hoorah, indeed!

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‘My sister died of lung cancer but never smoked’

Image copyright Julie Brown Harwood

In December my younger sister Sarah died of lung cancer, two years after first being diagnosed.

She had led an admirably healthy life, didn’t drink and had never smoked.

The disease seemed to come out of nowhere, shattering the life of a brilliant and much loved mum, wife and writer.

Sarah had been working on a historical novel for the past eight years and her death meant that she missed its publication by a few days.

Before her illness I knew very little about lung cancer and probably shared the common view that it was a smoker’s disease.

I had no idea how many healthy people who had never smoked got it, and how in the UK it kills more people than breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer combined.

Targeted therapies

Sarah’s cancer was caused by a non-inherited genetic mutation.

She was treated with a number of the relatively new targeted drugs available.

What was so frustrating was that when they worked they could shrink a tumour the size of an orange to nothing.

But Sarah was particularly unlucky.

With some people these drugs work well for quite some time, but the nature of her cancer meant that she burned through a number of them very quickly.

When the drug stops working, the tumours spring back almost immediately to the size they were before – or worse.

Like my sister, Joanna Marshall is a young mother to two children, has never smoked, and yet has stage four lung cancer because of a non-inherited fault in her genes.

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Media captionThe UK’s biggest cancer killer

She has also been treated with targeted drug therapies.

“They provide a very effective stay of execution. So for me, for example, I have been on a targeted therapy for about a year which meant that I could live essentially a normal life,” she said.

“I was very active. I could breathe properly but they don’t last for ever. The problem is that cancer tends to be one step ahead.

“My husband – his life has completely changed and it’s not what I wanted for him; but you know, if we get through this, we’ll be so strong,” she added.

‘A disaster’

According to the leading medical charity Cancer Research UK (CRUK), 98 people die of lung cancer in the UK each day – making it the country’s biggest cancer killer.

In around 14% of cases, those who get the disease have never smoked.

Despite this, there is no screening programme for the disease, something which the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, the UK’s only charity exclusively dedicated to lung cancer, is campaigning for.

Cancer Research says there is no national programme in part because it is not clear that screening would save lives, the tests have risks and they can be expensive.

Plus, there is a concern screening could cause over-diagnosis – meaning some people may have treatment they do not need.

Dr David Gilligan, a consultant oncologist at Addenbrookes and Papworth hospitals in Cambridge, says late diagnosis is a disaster for patients.

“It’s a massive problem because these people who are diagnosed with lung cancer and have never smoked are really quite angry that they are assumed to have smoked and they have self-inflicted this cancer… when clearly they haven’t,” he said.

“Because of the way that the disease behaves, and that these people are not expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer, they are not high risk, they are usually diagnosed at a later stage and therefore treatment can often not be curative, which is a complete and utter disaster for them.”

Most lung cancers are diagnosed at stage four, which means that the tumours have spread.

Sufferers often experience no symptoms and many of them are first diagnosed when they present at Accident and Emergency departments.

The average prognosis is 200 days but if caught early, there is up to a 73% increased chance of surviving over five years.

The British Journal of Cancer predicts that lung cancer cases in the UK will double from 65,000 in 2010 to 137,000 in 2040 and that women will be worst affected.

The number of women with lung cancer is expected to almost quadruple within the next 30 years, from around 26,000 in 2010 to about 95,000 in 2040.

In contrast, the figures for men are predicted to increase by 8%, from 39,000 to 42,000 over the same period.

However, partly due to the negative associations of smoking, lung cancer remains the poor relation in the cancer family.

It receives a fraction of the research funding of other cancers.

Just £708 is spent on research per lung cancer death, compared with £3,570 for breast cancer, £7,640 for leukaemia and £10,116 for testicular cancer.

The entertainer and host of BBC TV’s “Record Breakers” Roy Castle, also a lifelong non-smoker, died of lung cancer in 1994.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, paints a stark picture of why research and treatment is so poorly funded.

She argues that it is almost a “Cinderella” disease, because of the stigma that comes with the idea that it might be self-inflicted.

“A lot of patients believe that it is their fault as well,” she says.

“But it doesn’t matter if you are a smoker, non-smoker, or ex-smoker, if you have lungs you can get lung cancer, it does not discriminate.

“Sadly we don’t have that army of advocates or those ex-patients who can help us raise the profile because it does have poor survival rates, she adds.

Image copyright Genetech

A cure or effective long-term drug therapy for lung cancer in both smokers and non-smokers remains a way off.

There will be many more cases like that of my sister Sarah before this disease, which can strike down healthy young people indiscriminately, is tackled and beaten.

Watch Clive Coleman’s full report on the Six O’Clock News on BBC One this evening.

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Experimental Stem Cell Cancer Vaccine Successfully Shrinks Tumors In Mice

Stanford Medicine (SM) are doubling-down on their work on so-called “cancer vaccines” – treatments that induce the body’s own immune system to annihilate cancerous cells. Following on from another slightly different vaccine study published earlier this month, this paper describes how stem cells have been used in mice to not just shrink tumors, but in some cases immunize their bodies against future reintroductions of the cancer.

This new work, published in Cell: Stem Cell, relies on the use of induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs. These little wonders are derived from skin or blood cells that have been chemically reprogrammed to return to this primitive state. Given a little technical prodding, they can transform into any type of cell that’s required.

You can see why, given this ability, they’re being considered to game-changers in the world of regenerative, organ-growing research. An SM-led team wondered how they may fair when it comes to treating cancer, so they set to work.

Cancer cells are often left unchecked by immune systems. Despite their abnormalities, they are still our own cells, so they don’t register as foreign invaders. This camouflage means that even if they are identified as a threat, it’s often too late to stop it as their proliferation has spiraled out of control. Immunotherapy hopes to overcome this identification problem.

To wit, the team noticed that the gene expressions – the “on-off” state of a gene or series of genes – of cancer cells and iPSCs were fairly comparable, at least in mice. This suggested that both posses similar proteins on their surfaces, and it was suspected that because of this, the team could use the IPSCs as a warning shot: a passive blueprint that would tell the immune system what exactly it should be seeking to destroy.

In order to confirm the validity of this hypothesis, they injected tumor-bearing mice with genetically-identical IPSCs, irradiated to ensure they didn’t grow uncontrollably into tumors themselves. In some cases, they were also accompanied by an additional immune-stimulating agent.

It worked: given an injection of the IPSCs and the agent once a week for four weeks, the mice’s immune system registered the IPSC surface proteins, and subsequently destroyed the matching cancer cells. Out of 10 breast cancer-riddled mice in this vaccinated group, the tumors shrank in size in seven of them, and two were able to “fully reject” new cancer cells even after they were reintroduced to them a year later, according to the study – evidence of a cancer prevention mechanism at play.

The vaccine also appears to work somewhat effectively on both skin cancer and a particularly difficult-to-treat type named mesothelioma. Each time, the IPSCs had the potential to grow into that specific cancer type, but were irradiated to prevent them from doing so – and in turn, this provided the immune system with a safe way to identify the real threat.

Although the study describes this work as being in the “proof of concept” stage, the potential for this treatment is obvious. If this vaccine could be applied to humans, it may not only shrink or destroy tumors, but prevent future ones from arising, all using cells from the patient’s own body.

“We propose that immunotherapy – and especially our vaccine – be used in conjunction with established therapies,” senior author Prof. Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, director of Stanford’s Cardiovascular Institute, told IFLScience.

“Further development of immunotherapies with increased specificity to the cancer without (or with limited) adverse effects will hopefully one day limit the use of systemic therapies with significant side effects.”

Aimee Eckert, a doctoral researcher focusing on cancer biology at the University of Sussex – and who wasn’t involved in the study – tells IFLScience this is a “promising step,” but at this stage its likeliness to work in a human patient is uncertain.

The study notes risks of an immune system overreaction, as well as the danger of immune cells hidden with the cores of tumors “which are indoctrinated by the cancer cells to be less reactive against other cancer cells.”

So far, the work has only been conducted on mice – a useful but imperfect proxy to people. “They are going to test it on human tissue in a laboratory-based setting next, though, which is exciting,” Eckert noted.

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