Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Inventions

I knew it was only a matter of time until Mr Technology caved and bought a new TV.  A couple of weeks ago one of us was surfing the net and wanted to share a website with the other.  And, wouldn't you  know it, this meant that one of us had to actually get up out of his recliner and take two steps over to where the other was sitting in her recliner to look over her shoulder.  My comment that I wished we could connect our laptops to a common screen on our TV and watch it together was met with the announcement that this technology already existed. 

The next thing I knew, the poor pensioners who are only one can of cat food away from living in a cardboard box out in the cold were in possession of enough dough to buy the latest and greatest television invented.  If only we could figure out how to work the thing.

It's amazing and even a little frightening how quickly humanity is discovering new technology.  When will it end?  Will we ever reach a plateau when we can catch a breath going around the learning curve? Maybe just fifteen minutes after we learn the current stuff to relax before we get catapulted into the next invention?

While my own personal electronics genius was puttering and sputtering around with the TV I checked my emails and found more new inventions on TED Talks.  You can subscribe to this website for videos of new ideas.  I'm going to try to put their link here at the end of this post so you can check it out yourself.  If it doesn't work you can just go to TED Talks on your browser.

The one that blew me away yesterday was training rats to find land mines.

This makes sense to me.  Obviously nobody cares about the rat if it gets blown up.  But it turns out they use rats not just because they are our number one pick for things to exterminate but they also possess great skills at sniffing out explosives.  They're even better than dogs.  And nobody wants Fido out there walking around on landmines.  Also, anything you can find that's lightweight that you can train to do this is a great idea.  The rat sniffs around and locates the thing without blowing it up. Obviously if you've spent a lot of money on it, even if it is a rat, you don't want to blow up your equipment.  Nor do you want to make any more holes in the earth.  We have too many of those already.

But now that they've got the rats trained to detect the smell of explosives they figured out they can use them to sniff out cancer.  Yes, cancer has a smell to it. The trick is to find a critter with sensitive enough smellers that they can detect it before the cancer gets big and bad.  The sooner you find it the better.

I saw a video on that several years ago with dogs sniffing around people lying on the floor and the dogs were amazingly accurate in finding cancerous sites.  I'm just not sure I'm ready to have rats crawling around on me for this purpose, though.

The most current cancer technology has already saved my butt and it didn't involve rats. (Thank you, Jesus.) My vote for the Best Invention of my lifetime has to go to Mammography.  It caught a tumor in my body well before doctors would have detected it.  But the even better invention is only four years old --so new that none of my friends have ever had the benefit of it.

The Oncotype DX test examines the genetic makeup of the tumor removed during surgery.  They can categorize the cells into one of three levels of  its likelihood of returning.  Low risk is 0-18, Medium is another set of numbers and High risk is still a different score.

I have to interrupt here in our science class to give you a bit of background.  If you ever get cancer you end up with more doctors and procedures than you'd ever imagine; a veritable army of people to examine you and your tissue up one side and down the other.  Then, just when you think things will calm down, it turns out you need another army of about three doctors to watch over you for the rest of your life and that's even before you can start any kind of treatment.  Because, dear hearts, they aren't finished with you when they take the tumor out.  Oh, no, they've just started.

All of this is to say that one doc insisted I go straight into chemotherapy.  The urping, losing hair and wearing a wig kind of chemo.  The urping part didn't scare me too much since I immediately decided this was a great opportunity to smoke a little pot on the side.  The losing my hair part did bother me and I realized I would never be able to find a wig that looked like my regular hair.  No one could ethically sell a wig that looked like mine.  They would probably be reported to the Better Business Bureau.

So I was really glad when a second doctor suggested the Oncotype.  And my tumor scored a 13 on the cancer recurrence scale.  Meaning I was clearly in the low risk category and chemo wouldn't do any better job than just radiation and medication alone.

So my vote for the discovery of the decade is the Oncotype DX test.  Because it has greatly expanded my time without making me sick. The downside is that I'm stuck with this hair.

I've also made a small discovery of my own today.  You really shouldn't be drinking coffee when you're half-asleep.  But I also learned why they make bathrobes out of terrycloth. And my  advice to share with good friends like you today is that, given a choice,  you should always get the brown bathrobe.

Here's the link for the TED Talk on rats:

http://www.ted.com/talks/bart_weetjens_how_i_taught_rats_to_sniff_out_land_mines.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2010-12-07

1 comment:

Michelle Groebe Prengler said...

So glad you are doing well Jane! It is so scary to think you might have been really sick and I wouldn't have known. BTW - some good news from me. I had genetic testing in '06. At first inconclusive (only 2% come back that way - very disappointing considering the stakes and the cost) and then they called me in '09 and said I do NOT have the marker for BC. Still doesn't explain Mom but it does help give Brock and I SOME peace of mind. Doesn't mean I won't get it just that I have no more risk than the general population. Again, so happy yours was found early! Catching up on your blogs this am and loving them!