CMAJ issues controversial call

The headline: Selective abortions prompt call for ultrasound rules

In a recent issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, its editor-in-chief issued a call for banning the disclosure of a baby’s gender before 30 weeks of pregnancy in a bid to end the practice of aborting female babies. This practice is especially prevalent among some South Asian cultures (the editor issuing the call is apparently from this culture himself).

The whole article has the pro-abortion side tied up in knots, as you can see from the comments following the article. You can also see the hard-heartedness of many Canadians who insist on their rebellion and sin.

The article is, overall, heartbreaking. The ramifications of the fall of man are constantly on display. May God help us reach some of our fellow citizens with the gospel.


on complexity of creation

An interesting article today on Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, the disease my wife has in remission thanks to Gleevec.

CML in its chronic phase can be treated with Gleevec and most patients respond well to it. But unfortunately, some do not. The disease can progress to what is called ‘blast phase’ where things go from bad to worse in a hurry.

Today’s article has to do with an apparent discovery of the cause for the transition from chronic to blast phase. Here it is:

They found that chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) progresses when immature white blood cells lose a molecule called miR-328.

That’s it. The white blood cells lose ONE MOLECULE. (The disease is initially caused by a mutation resulting from one part of one chromosome breaking off and reattaching itself to the DNA in a different spot on the chain.)

That isn’t much of a big deal to kill you, eh? One chromosome mutates and soon you have a chronic and life threatening disease. Left untreated, after some time, one white blood cell loses ONE molecule (and then many follow), and suddenly you are in blast phase. And shortly after that, if untreated, you are gone from this world.

A couple of observations:

  1. Are their any good mutations? How can anyone believe that chance can produce any beneficial change in any organism that is then perpetuated to new generations? Every part of our body is essential. All it takes to kill you is one chromosome change and one molecule loss. Mutations are not good.
  2. What a mighty God we serve! He designed us, in all our complexity, to live as we do in a complex, interdependent world. His mind conceived it all. Though the struggle with cancer can be daunting and is often tragic, it ought to remind us of how great God is.


P.S., I am working on an article to follow up my ‘godliness’ post a few days ago. It is getting longer and longer as I work. Maybe it should be more than one post. It will definitely become a series in our Bible Study time at our church. I think the idea of godliness (godly living) is vital for Christians in our world. So more is coming… in the meantime I am putting up links to things that interest me…

series on melanoma – NYT

Our family is very grateful for targeted cancer medication. The New York Times is running a series of articles on research about an anti-melanoma drug. It is quite moving – the people going through the trials have to be dealing with many ups and downs emotionally.

Here is the first article, “A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure

Here is the second, “After Long Fight, Drug Gives Sudden Reprieve

UPDATE: Here is the third and last article in the frustrating fight against melanoma, “A Drug Trial Cycle: Recovery, Relapse, Reinvention


a little housekeeping

I have several comments in the queue for the previous post. I haven’t gotten around to digesting them or dealing with them because of a little medical emergency. I won’t go into gory details (it was gory) but I ended up in the hospital for the weekend after experiencing my first ambulance ride.

The docs were great, I am now fine, under strict orders to hopefully prevent a reoccurrence.

I do appreciate each of you (about 5) who have comments in the queue that I need to deal with. I hope you will be patient as I will get to them in due time.

A few observations from the experience:

[Read more…]

a reminder of God’s blessing

An interview in the New York Times reminds me of a great blessing from God our family received a little over six years ago.

I have written about this before, but I just want to again give praise to the Lord for the gifts he gives to men.

Six and a half years ago, my wife began to lose weight rapidly and was bruising easily. She was becoming more and more exhausted each day. (She was enjoying the weight loss part!) We called our doctor who immediately got the ball rolling in our health care system, no small feat. The diagnosis was Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). Our hematologist was very upbeat, however. The new therapy for this disease was a drug called Gleevec, just approved for CML treatment two years previously. We haven’t looked back. Gleevec has very minimal side-effects (we haven’t really noticed any). My wife is living a normal life.

The interview with Bryan Druker, the doctor in charge of developing Gleevec reminded me of how close my dear wife was to death’s door:

The problem [with a CML diagnosis] was that the death rate in the first year was 25 to 50 percent.

The life expectancy after diagnosis before Gleevec was about 5 years. And the previous treatments would make those years pretty miserable.

This interview gives you a bit of insight into the persistence and dedication of Dr. Druker in bringing Gleevec into production. It is now approved for ten different forms of cancer, but is most successful with CML, I believe.

My wife takes a couple of little orange pills every morning and God has given her six and a half years of normal life. If there is a drawback, as I was commenting to a friend, is that she would have been in heaven these last five years or so … instead, she gets to live with me.

Maybe there is a purgatory?


a little good news about Gleevec

Gleevec is the drug that gives my wife a normal life. She has CML, chronic mylogenous leukemia. Gleevec puts this disease in remission and keeps it there with little to no side-effects.

Today, a story about another disease, neurofibromatosis, which affects one in 3500 births. Research is being conducted to see if this disease, which makes the patient disposed to very difficult to treat cancerous tumours, can benefit from Gleevec. This story contains this hopeful little paragraph:

While the research was being conducted in animal models, a critically ill three-year-old patient presented at Riley Hospital for Children with a plexiform neurofibroma that was compressing her airway. With Gleevec administered under a compassionate use protocol, the patient’s tumor was reduced by about 80 percent, Dr. Clapp said. The patient was subsequently removed from treatment and is being followed, he said.

Again, a word of thanks to our Lord who gifted men, even unbelieving men, with minds capable of searching out these hidden things of our earthly lives. May God grant them insight to see the hidden things of their spiritual lives and find redemption in his Son!


a little thanksgiving

Five years ago, my wife was diagnosed with Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia. As we began to understand what was happening, we had many tears, but put our trust in the Lord. This summer marks a milestone. Left untreated, CML life expectancy is about five years. But we thank God for the work of many scientists (surely some of them – most? – unregenerated). Two years prior to our diagnosis, they had successfully brought to approval the new wonder drug, Gleevec.

Gleevec turned a death sentence into a chronic condition, with next to no side effects for my dear wife. (Except she complains about gaining back the weight she lost with active leukemia!)

Newsweek has an article called “A Step Past Chemotherapy” that describes some of the new approaches being taken in treating cancers of all kinds, following the path blazed largely by Gleevec.

In the article, these are the lines that got me thinking about our milestone:

Such glitches take place within a complex network of genes and proteins, all of them performing specific duties to keep cancer alive. Targeted drugs interrupt various pathways in this network. One significant advance in this new approach is Gleevec, approved in 2001 to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. Gleevec clamps down on the cell’s accelerator, a protein called tyrosine kinase, which drives cancer to reproduce.

Essentially, Gleevec zeros in on the mutated white blood cells that show up in my wife’s blood stream and kills them, allowing the normal cells to function properly and proliferate. Which apparently makes her life expectancy about the same as anyone else. I have given her these comforting words: “You’ll live long enough to die of something else.”

We don’t dwell on it. Our tears and fears are long past. My wife takes a couple of pills every morning and life goes on. We are very thankful to be able to serve the Lord together still. But as I realized this summer is a milestone of sorts, I am full of thankfulness to our Lord who does all things well.


a good news story – health

I have a Google news alert that brings me news about a certain health topic. I thought I would share with you a good news alert from it:

Gleevec Pushes Advanced Melanoma Into Remission

Gleevec is a cancer drug, one that I follow in the news because it gives life to my wife. My wife has CML, chronic mylogenous leukemia. Gleevec has turned her condition into a daily routine, a pill she takes after breakfast … nothing more.

We know other cancer patients in the ministry. Their path is much more difficult, dealing with the ravages of strong chemical therapy or radiation treatments. My dad likes to say, “All doctors know how to do is cut, burn, and poison.” My dad is a cynic.

But for us, thankfully, cancer is just a chronic condition, one that is marvellously relieved by a modern wonder drug.

This news story isn’t about our situation, though. Someone else has experienced the blessing of Gleevec treatment, this time someone with an entirely different kind of cancer, melanoma. The lady who was taking Gleevec as an experimental treatment had four melanoma tumors.

Four weeks after the woman started therapy, there was dramatic reduction in tumor size and metabolism. Two of the tumor masses had vanished, and several others were much smaller. After four months, the tumors were still in check and, nine months later, the woman was still taking the drug and her condition remained stable.

Isn’t that interesting? It is to me, anyway. Some cancers are becoming more understandable to the medical community. We thank the Lord for giving wisdom and insight to the doctors involved.