My dad died of Multiple Myeloma in September 2011, he'd just turned 55. From diagnosis to the end was just under 1 year. What grabbed me most and still does (aside from the obvious) is that the medical fraternity seem to know so little about it. They seemingly just blast you with a load of drugs, give you a stem cell transplant and hope for the best.
There's a lot of cancer charities generally, but I try and give as regularly as I can for Myeloma UK http://www.myeloma.org.uk/
, although I confess I know very little about the work they actually do. Know anything about them BW?
Very sorry to hear that. I have a relative with a new diagnosis myself; it's something like the second commonest blood cancer. Waiting to see which subgroup she's in - it's a very heterogeneous disease, and people's tumours can be put categories: like most tumours, the idea is to be able to tailor therapy with the patient, so you are not just treating everyone the same. MM is kind of in that transitional place just now IMO. I accept that the treatment seems heavy-handed; chemo etc. has been described as mediaeval treatment and is non-specific (usually) - but it's been very effective for a variety of reasons, and increasing specificity of action has problems suggested below. But there are some new drugs in MM that have extended survival, and others which are brand new (I know of at least one other still to reach Phase I trial) though obviously what everyone wants is a cure.
As for the question: They're a small charity, smaller than LLR
, but they fund some good stuff. They seem to have a limited profile, not funding widely. They don't seem to contribute their funding data to this great tool, which lets you search what gets funded. Have a play.
Have a little time in on that disease, nasty, complex and painful, and very hard to work on in some interesting ways. The knowledge base on it is growing all the time, and there are new drugs in development and new options, as hinted above. A good review of things here.
And this is another concept to introduce: cancer under therapy is almost the purest demonstration of Darwin being right that I can offer.
Tumours evolve over time, accumulating more and more mutations. Some of these are good for the cell it occurs in, and offer an advantage. Some are bad, and this cell is likely to die off.
But in the presence of chemo drugs, or other more specific agents, the selective pressure has changed, and now there may be a different cell which does best. This is a hot area, and monitoring which tumour cell type a patient has may offer better management (as you might 'see' them becoming resistant to a drug, for instance). I could elaborate on this, but in MM I'll just send you to this recent commentary in Blood
on a good preliminary paper dealing with this. (I say preliminary because their conclusions are quite weak, but this is the way things are going, and an area of interest to me - but the theories are the same, and probably true in almost all tumours. So not just lots of different types of cancer, but lots of subclones within each patient. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, this cancer's quite the cunt, ain't it.)
You know, I'm sick of following my dreams, man. I'm just going to ask where they're going and hook up with 'em later.