Why Cancer?

From the first days of my time in the Science Research Program, I began reading article after article about anything remotely biological, without focus on any particular field. I dove into researching the effects of toxins in plastics, birth defects, Down syndrome, Hemophilia and anything else that looked appealing from the title of an article.

As time progressed, I came up with the idea of studying how chemicals like BPA affect fetal development, but quickly became bored. One day in class, after scrolling through a science news site, I found a study that used nanodiamonds to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs.

That single article led me to question everything I knew about cancer. I did not originally want to research a disease from personal connection but I found motivation from cancer research to continue learning. Since there are over 200 types of cancer, the most resistant cases will always struggle to find a valuable treatment option. It was the statistic proof that even cancers like breast cancer, which is most often surgical, can be treated with chemotherapy only successfully 1.5% of the time.

The resistance to treatment is what makes cancer so difficult, and finding new, unique ways to target the resistance-promoting factors is what I believe to be the future of cancer research. Any progress in this field that I can contribute to would be an immense success, as the creation of a single drug may help, even at first, dozens of patients survive longer than they might normally, which would be incredible.

Thanks,

Jennifer

What am I thankful for?

After a short time in the Science Research course, (for more information on the course, click here), I realized what about it had appealed to me originally. I knew I wanted to make a difference; I wanted, and still want, to improve the lives of people who are suffering with disease, especially cancer. However small, advancing medicine in any way improves the probability of success in the future. The Science Research community is filled with the great thinkers of tomorrow, the students who will innovate and create to enhance the world we live in. Graduates from the program have already begun applying their research and performing more tests to ensure their validity.

While I am thankful that my research has been successful so far, and that others’ has been as well, this only pushes me to go further with it. To accept that research into specific Bcl-2/Mcl-1 cancer treatments has been improving in recent years would only pause their development. With no time to stop and smell the roses, I am thankful for the incredible opportunity that I have been given, and reflecting on this pushes me to reach for the success others have achieved. I keep my original goal in mind and fuel my progress with the success of my peers.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the community of innovators I am honored to work with each day, the success of the program’s recent graduates, and every small step in the creation of new cancer treatments. I’m thankful for the health of my family and friends and I can only wish for the health of all people suffering with cancer and other illnesses right now.

Thanks,

Jen

A Cure For Cancer is Not My Goal? (Book Preview)

biology-316571_1280“My goal was never, and never will be to ‘cure cancer,’ but rather it is to treat cancer with less harmful side effects. Enhancing the lives of suffering patients is more than what I would ever want to accomplish. Also, I do not believe there ever will be one single cure for cancer. I am confident that there will be major improvements in the future to make curing cancer in certain individuals much easier, but I do not think a ‘cure’ exists beyond dreams.” -Preview of Innovation, the Key to Hope

With over 200 types of cancer, I can promise I will not be the magician that creates a “wonder-drug” that can cure all cancers, but what I can ensure is that I am devoted to improving the lives of others. While I am in the early stages of research, I know that specific molecule inhibitor drugs have a possibility to treat cancer with fewer side effects than typical cytotoxic chemotherapy. My research  project revolves around enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients in the future, anytime before the magic cure-all potion is invented in 2500.

Jokes aside, a cure would be amazing, but thinking small is key. One protein may control the fate of an entire person. A tiny chain of amino acids in a cluster of cells can kill. The precise mechanisms to target these are the innovative ideas of tomorrow.

Thanks,

Jennifer

The Past is in the Past

The infamous words “you have cancer” have been discussed across the globe with the same sorrowful response since the first time those words were ever spoken. However, some may find that while the cancer is destroying and invading their body, the treatment may actually be causing the most intense suffering. While often for cancer treatments, one must get worse before they get better, the same outlook has been given to cancer treatment for years. There are new treatments in the works that have the ability to diminish side effects from cancer treatments and there has never been a better time to seek such a solution.

While treatments like the ones I’m researching will not be options for most people for years, even understanding that other options exist can improve the difficult experience of suffering with cancer. Not only will these treatments enhance cancer treatment in the future, but they also allow patients to look past the present with hope for the future of medicine. As endless stories of patients’ tragedies fill the media, it may often be hard to see past the pain. While everyday is painful, just knowing there are options and that you are receiving the best possible treatment for your condition is enough to keep a person cheerful and determined to “win the fight”

These ideas and inventions are what fuel progress to a more successful cancer treatment and to happier lives. Subscribe to this blog to receive email updates on the first and third Friday of each month as I continue to describe how I am revising my book and preparing to publish it by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other survivors, caregivers, researchers or anyone you think would enjoy.

Thanks,

Jennifer

Introduction: Why?

“My name is Jennifer Schwartz and I am a Junior in the Ridgefield High School Science Research Program,” is always how I have been taught to introduce myself, but I am now proud to call myself so much more than a student. In a little over a year in my school’s Science Research Program, I have become an innovator, a creator, a scientist and hopefully by the end of my second year in the course, an author.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing “a science book.” I am discussing my perspective on cancer research and the disconnect between patients, researchers, and the public. My research journey has been so much more than I had ever expected. The exposure to the cancer research field is nothing like what I expected and I’m proud to be able to share my opinions and ideas with the public.

Subscribe to this blog to receive email updates on the first and third Friday of each month as I continue to describe how I am revising my book and preparing to publish it by April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other survivors, caregivers, researchers or anyone you think would enjoy.

Thanks,

Jennifer