Yesterday, I posted an article from the Daily Mirror online newspaper. Along with that article, I also posted several comments, opinions … personal ones that were based purely on raw emotions. I’d like to try and tie up a few “loose ends” so those of you who know me AND those of you who may be visiting for the first time will possibly understand a little better.
As I said in the previous blog entry, I receive alerts from my email provider. Each day I go through and read each article and I may or may not choose to write about them. However, when dealing with things related to breast cancer, I put myself on the line, so to speak.
It is difficult for me not to be passionate about the subject. Not passionate in the love meaning of the word, but in a way that I bare my emotions. This isn’t always a good thing, because as was shown yesterday, I allowed two sentences in the whole article to affect how I felt. Up until I read the words that made up those sentences, I was thinking how great it was that finally, it was possible for breast cancer to be stopped in its tracks.
I made a statement … “I raise awareness and beg people to donate money towards research in finding a cure. But this is not the cure I had in mind.” and, it isn’t the cure that in my minds eye, I saw. But then I am not a scientist, I am not an expert and I am by no means a prophet. So, what cure did I, in my wildest dreams see? Perhaps a vaccination, though in reality, would that be effective?
You see, I’m not sure any of us that fight for this cure really stop and think about what that cure might entail. It is simply something we want to be found. Maybe not for ourselves, unless we, a family member or a friend are currently battling a form of cancer.
I would like to refer you to two sentences that affected me. They were, and I quote,
“Doctors at the private conception clinic tested 11 embryos by removing just one cell from each when they were three days old.
Six were found to carry the defective gene. Two were free of it and implanted, resulting in a single pregnancy.”
Why did these sentences have such a strong affect on me? It all boils down to basic mathematics. Eleven embryos, six with the defective gene, that leaves five, correct? Now they go on to say that two were free of the gene in question, so that leaves three unaccounted for. What happened to those three? Were they discarded? If so, why and if not, why aren’t they mentioned?
The other aspect that bothered me was the problematic “what-ifs”. The negativity that surrounds, in my mind at least and I’m certain many others. To be honest, I’m a history fanatic and while many discoveries are made through experimenting with human subjects, Penicillin and the Polio vaccine to name a few, there have also been times in the world’s history when sadistic evil was covered over with the title “medical experimentation”. Therefore, I see both sides of the coin or to phrase it another way, I see the today, the here and now, but I also see what could be, in the future, if something like this were to fall into the hands of a maniacal person.
But I am thankful that I have lived to see the day when a child is born who will go through life carrying no risk of ever having to hear the words “I’m sorry, you have breast/ovarian cancer”. At least the forms caused by the BRCA 1 gene. Now lets work on the rest. As my girlfriend is so fond of saying … “small steps, Chris, small steps” only this time, that small step is a giant leap in the right direction.
According to the Center for Genetics and Society, “genetic selection procedures are done either on fetuses, through prenatal screening, or on embryos that are outside a woman’s body, through Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).” They also state that “PGD was developed to allow couples at risk of passing on a serious genetic disease to have children not affected by it. Since its introduction in 1990, it has been most widely used to prevent the birth of children with conditions such as Down’s syndrome, Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, Huntington’s chorea, and Cooley’s anemia.”
So to answer my own question ‘Is this playing God?’ … no, its not, its science at its best. Giving the next generation a chance that I myself, my generation and generations before me didn’t have. Playing God, in my opinion, only comes into question when one considers the negative “what-ifs”.