Monday, February 2, 2015

Around the Web

We had a busy weekend here at the Campisano household. Besides Quinn making a mud pit in our back yard (see photo, below), my mom moved back to town after a two-year stint in Denver.

My younger brother flew down from Alaska to help her make the drive here, and he and I were both close to tears when they arrived Saturday night. Chris would say this is because us Akres are criers. The truth is we might be, but also that I hadn't seen my little brother (who's 6'4") in nearly eighteen months. He was deployed to Afghanistan for nearly half of that time, and the other half it was -38 degrees Fahrenheit where he lives.

So even if us Washingtonians were disappointed by the end of Sunday night's Super Bowl, all was okay in the world for a little bit because I got to watch the game over some chili and queso with my brother (and some other friends and family, including my mom).

(I realize this is not the best picture, but Quinn literally never stops moving and I should probably know by now to shoot everything in "sports" mode. Still, look at that smile. Clearly, this was taken before the Seahawks' last play call.)

With all that's been going on, I've slacked a bit on the "Around the Web" series. But here's what I've seen on the Internet over the past couple of weeks. Have anything to add? Email me at jen dot campisano at gmail. I like hearing from you guys.

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer Becomes a Movie

Perhaps I'll do better watching this on screen than I did in book form? I picked up the book (some of the best prose I've read) shortly after my diagnosis. It hit too close to home, and I stopped reading. I haven't had the guts to try again. Maybe this will be my impetus.

"So she turned to PBS's premiere filmmaker, Ken Burns — whose mother died of breast cancer when he was eleven — to shepherd the project. The result is a three part, six-hours series arriving on March 30 narrated by Edward Herrmann, who died of brain cancer shortly after completing work on the film."

Or maybe not...

This Is Important: The Pressure to Stay Positive

"I understand the impetus from well-meaning friends who interrupt with "don’t say that, just stay positive!" when you talk about fears of what may come to pass in your cancer treatment, but they don't seem to understand that speaking about these anxieties is a means of release. The patient ends up feeling like she has to act happy and fine all the time, and stifles the desperate need to talk through all of this."

A New Strategy to Fight Cancer Actually Starts by Making Cancer Tougher

"'We think that being relatively soft lets invading cancer cells slip through the body and colonize new areas,' Surcel says. 'You can envision an octopus having a much easier time getting through a small opening than would a lobster. 4-HAP seems to make the cancer cells more like the lobster.'

The team is now testing 4-HAP in mice. The drug is already in use in some countries as a treatment for jaundice, so if it shows success against pancreatic cancer, it could potentially make it to market relatively quickly, Robinson says. But even if that doesn't happen, the study demonstrates that the new drug screen has great potential, he says."

And Yet Another Might Look to Create a Tumor Within a Tumor

"A tumor, as strange as it may sound, is a little society. The cancer cells that make it up cooperate with one another, and together they thrive.

Scientists are only starting to decipher the rules of these communities. But if they can understand how these cells work together, then they may be able to stop the tumor. “You can drive it to collapse,” said Marco Archetti, a biologist at the University of East Anglia and at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai."

Why Breast Cancer Education (Rather than Awareness) Remains So Important

"Women with breast cancer often don’t know what kind of tumors they have, a new study found.

Not knowing one’s tumor features isn’t necessarily tied to worse outcomes, but better knowledge might help women understand treatment decisions and take medications as directed, said Dr. Rachel Freedman, the study’s lead author from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Based on their medical records, only 56 percent of women reported the correct estrogen status, 58 percent reported the correct HER2 status and 57 percent reported the correct stage. Only about one in five women reported the correct grade.

Overall, only 8 percent of women correctly answered all four questions, but the lack of knowledge was more pronounced among minority women, the researchers report." (emphasis mine)

Scientists Find New Target for Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC, for short) is what I lost my friend Renee to late last year. If targeted treatments could be developed for these patients, that is an absolute game-changer. It's not a cure, but — like the treatment I'm on — it's getting closer. 

"The team concludes that increasing expression of beclin 1 could be a promising therapy for breast cancer, especially for patients with the triple-negative type.

Beclin 1 is already a target of four classes of drug approved to treat other types of cancer, and the team suggests more research should now be done to see whether these could also save lives of breast cancer patients."


  1. Yay for family! I also love anything with the word "queso." :)

    1. There is just something about melted cheese, isn't there?

  2. Hi Jen,
    You put together some good stuff here, but I must admit, my favorite part of this post is the photo of your sweet boy. It's nice your mom is back in town and nice as well that you got to visit with your brother. I did read The Emperor of All Maladies, and it wasn't easy (for various reasons) for me to get through it either. Close to home indeed. I think lots of us will be watching the PBS series, which won't be easy either. And don't get me started on that staying positive thing... thanks for putting this together.

    1. Wish we could all be sitting around, movie-theater style, watching the PBS series together! I'd make popcorn! In all seriousness, I'm sure it won't be easy. Actually, in even more seriousness, you are welcome to come visit and watch documentaries with me on my couch anytime. XO