When I was a junior in high school, my dad had cancer - twice. The second time, he got accepted into a special treatment program in Bethesda, Maryland. So off my parents went to live in an apartment and my brother and I stayed with friends for three weeks.
When he went for his next checkup, things were worse not better. It was getting to be the end of the school year and I vividly remember how depressed I was.
There were all kinds of well-meaning people who would say “Well Perry if you ever want to talk about it, I’m always here.”
I would think “That’s really nice of you and all… but do you really think I wanna call you up and say Hey I feel like coming over to your house and crying over your shoulder for awhile, would you mind?”
There was one girl I sort-of had a crush on. Actually, I wasn’t sure what my feelings were … I just knew I had a lot of them. I called her up one night and said “My dad’s last report came back and it’s not good.” She said, “My parents don’t allow me to talk to boys” and she hung up.
Two months later, my dad got a positive report. His numbers were improving. I specifically remember that day; I was in super good spirits. I was very social and talkative.
That turns out to be the day I met a certain young woman named Laura. This woman now happens to be my wife :^>
That summer, we went on a “last hurrah” vacation. A bunch of members of our church had put literally ten thousand dollars in an envelope and said “Bob and Betty, go take that vacation you’ve always dreamed of” and they did.
It was a fantastic trip. We lived in Nebraska, and none of us had been further than Utah. We hit every state west of Colorado including Alaska and Hawaii.
During the trip, my dad’s health deteriorated markedly. He started dropping weight. He was always taking prescription Tylenol and every time he went to bed, he would cough for about a half hour before he finally got to sleep.
About a month after the trip, his voice started getting hoarse. A month after that, he was gone.
Declaring war on cancer is a lot like declaring war on gangs… or drugs… or Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam.
There’s the big “shock and awe” and it’s really impressive and everyone celebrates since you apparently wiped out 95% of the problem.
Tumors shrink. Numbers improve. The patient perks up.
But it’s like one of those movies where they win a big victory but you notice there’s 1 hour 38 minutes left and, apparently, this isn’t over yet.
So yeah, you killed 95% or 98% or 99% of the cancer cells.
But the 1% that are left pull out their evolutionary Swiss Army Knife. That thing’s got all KINDS of stuff: M16s, Anti-aircraft guns, torpedos, molotov cocktails, nunchucks, hand grenades, chemical weapons, knives, spears… anything they can think of.
And now it’s not Tae Kwon Do anymore, it’s Mixed Martial Arts. With no rules or regulations. Tumor evolution kicks in at lightning speed and now you’re fighting 1000 species of tumor cells instead of just one.
I’m not a professional scientist, but I think solving cancer requires a whole lot more than surgery and chemo. It demands expert psychology.
The entire cancer industry has woefully underestimated the cancer Swiss Army Knife. Some of them still don’t even acknowledge its existence.
This is precisely why I’ve teamed up with some of the best oncologists and evolutionary biologists in the world to organize the Cancer & Evolution Symposium, 14-16 October 2020.
The event presumes familiarity with medical and biological terms and concepts. If you’re comfortable traversing that territory, this is a watershed event: