Friday, July 29, 2011


Somewhere, once again in the recesses of my brain, I remember reading about the time frame in which medical knowledge doubles.  For those without medical issues, liken it to the “money doubles every seven years” adage.  Thanks to the tanking economy and what appears to be the US government on the brink of something horrible, seven years is a distant memory.  I can’t stay with this news story, there are too many numbers so I have to stick with headlines and deadlines.

The headlines: There is a fight between the Republicans and the Democrats.  (I know it’s more than that, but that’s about all I can grasp which I why I turned into a Reality Show Whore-American Idol etc.)  Guessing here but I think we probably all owe China our first born kids (and yes, I am aware of the incentives in China to stop procreating at the current rate).  The plans proposed between the two parties to fix our impending economic implosion/explosion are far closer than it would appear according to the talking heads.

Next week, we are in some gloom and doom crisis if everyone doesn’t get on the same page.  And no, I do not wish to get into a political discussion, I’m trying to find a way to make my point.  Somehow I find myself in a completely unrelated but in an oddly twisted way; I swear this IS related.

When I was on my scavenger hunt to pin down some cold hard facts about the rapid advances in medicine, I stumbled upon some non scientific information.  (Bear with me as numbers are such an issue for me and this is clearly the calculation of someone who still has the BC brain I once had for math):

He always said your money would double every 7 years.  Turns out he was figuring on 10% interest or appreciation.  At 7% your money will double every 10 years.  Add 3% inflation and it’ll double every 18 years.

Since most of us are not earning 7% on our money and more of us are actually being forced to spend the money that should be earning something, then essentially the the rest of us just continue to amass debt.  For me, only one thing is certain. My money is never doubling.  I will be living out of a box when retirement time rolls around.  Social security will be bankrupt and who can live on that anyway??

The good news is, I will be living.  WE WILL all be living, even if we are in a village of cardboard boxes.  Advances in medicine are coming quickly and almost every medical issue is being researched somewhere.  Some of the research I find idiotic and although I am sure I could readily find an idiotic example, I don’t want to lose my point.  I do however remember reading about some study and thinking, “You MUST be kidding me?  People are dying (forget cancer, let’s talk ebola or MRSA) and you are researching the difference between corn flakes and rice crispies????”  That wasn’t the study, but yes, in my mind, it was JUST THAT DUMB.

In any event, the information about the incredible increase in medical knowledge is not something I pulled from thin air.  It is from a quotable and what I believe to be, a reliable source.

“New medical knowledge has doubled every three years in the last decade. By one estimate the whole of medical knowledge will double every 73 days by the year 2020. This is a breathtaking prediction and reason enough for change!”

Let’s think about this for just a moment.  This is going to require some real effort on my part so stick with me.  In 2001, we had a certain amount of information.  Call it “1” …..  If we apply the information from the dean’s message, as of last year, medical knowledge increased EIGHTFOLD in the nine years between 2001 and 2010.  As of 2013, we will possess 16 times more information.

Personally, visuals work better for me (sometimes), and based upon the recent neurocognitive tests, sometimes the visuals just completely mess with my brain…. But, let me try this chart to explain how I got to 2010=8 times

       2001 = 1
       2004 = 2 (plus three years, double the knowledge)
       2007 = 4 (plus three more years and double THAT knowledge)
       2010 = 8 (ditto above, if I’ve not confused you I can assure you, I confused myself)

Now, let’s go back and read what ELSE the dean had to say.  We are gaining in both columns.  As impressive as THIS progress is, we have the potential for an exponential explosion of knowledge.   My brain is on fire right now and I do love the word exponential, it just sounds so “edge of glory-ish.”  (I think I am going to roam the streets of New York and Brooklyn hoping to run into Lady Gaga to plead with her to rework her song, Edge of Glory, so it can be used as an anthem for the Stand Up To Cancer Foundation).

The dean and the doubling…..he mentions that there is one estimate out there stating the “doubling” might occur every 73 DAYS before this decade is over.  What does that mean?  The knowledge could be doubling at a rate that is 15 times faster than it is now.  Three years has 1095 days.  Do the math.  I am done with the calculation portion of the program.  I just know that this is huge huge huge.  And I know there are 15 blocks of 73 days each in a span of three years.  Exponential, INDEED!!  Explosive?  DEFINITELY!!

I have no clue how one might apply this “algorithm” I have discussed; I do, however, see this jump is expected to be tremendous enough for me to be unable to fathom the promise of what lies ahead. When numbers about increasing medical knowledge sit dryly on a piece of paper, I just think to myself big damn deal.  But when the numbers enable scientists to come up the the breakthrough may be the one that turns your life on a dime, then I guess the numbers really do mean something.  All of a sudden, that dry piece of paper IS a big damn deal.  Plain and simple, here is an equation I can understand:

The Dryly Displayed Numbers = HOPE for someone

My friend with that rare cancer (if you did not read yesterday’s entry, you may want to scan it quickly so you can appreciate this) had absolutely no chemotherapy medication or any other sort of medication for that matter.  Five years ago and until a few months ago, her prognosis was,
“When we see certain numbers go up, we will scan you, find the problem and cut it out.  When Dr. Surgeon tells me he can’t operate any more, we will put you in a clinical trial.”
I swear those were the words of her doctor.  I was sitting beside her while this was explained.  And, her doctor happens to be excellent.  He was just being honest.

And, when she sat beside me months later listening to the evaluation of my oncologist (diligently taking notes about everything he said), I know she whispered to my mom who was also present, “I WISH they had a chemo for me.”  Being very much aware of her plight without having to hear her say that, it made it far easier to wrap my brain around “chemotherapy” not with fear, but with gratitude.

Today, a dime turned that is a life changer.... the dime is "hope side up."

Buried in my 1300 plus unread emails (I only opened the ones that looked important or personal so these emails go back to mid-May) was one about the “new national guidlelines for treatment of medullary thyroid cancer WITH the RET mutation.”  They found the needle in that haystack!  The FDA just approved a drug for her very rare cancer.  Her wish has been granted thanks to the fact that the medical community at large knows far more, exponentially more, than was known in 2006.  I am hoarse from screaming.
Everything about CB is simply not important today.  This is huge.  Besides, seeing this makes me believe my brain will be restored to its prior state.  It’s not a question of “if” ….. it’s a question of WHEN.  But, the truth is, overall, I may prefer the new brain anyway.  I do however, have the apparent need for yet another note about opening emails every day, too....THIS was SUCH important info and it remained unopened... I should have been hoarse well over a month ago....

For L with love.....

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