Friday, July 26, 2013

Karma: A Blessing Or A Bitch?

  1. kar·ma  

    1. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) The sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in...
    2. Destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.
    fortune - fate - destiny

I believe in karma. I have for as long as I can remember. I think that's a good thing. It helps dictate my actions every day.

Whenever my mind starts toying with the idea of doing something devious, I stop the thoughts dead in their tracks and project to the future. I think to myself: If I go ahead and do this, which does not represent my better self, what are the repercussions? It helps maintain my dignity.

My father would call it acting with integrity, which he did very well by the way. But I like to put a more mystical spin on it. Just think, if we all strived for better karma, the world would probably be in a much better place.

In fact, it's not a bad idea to look back at where you screwed up and fix it in the present. Perhaps you will prevent some bad karma that's heading your way from come at you to bite you in the butt.

Of course, you have to wonder why some people that exude pure goodness keep getting faced with one tragedy or another. I think it's because their ancestors had bad karma and they are the ones that are paying for it. For example, everyone talks about the Kennedy curse. The patriarch of the family, Joe Kennedy, was a bootlegger and as crooked as they come. Now the whole clan has had to pay for his dirty deeds.

It's a far-fetched theory, I know. But for some of us, it's the only way we can make sense out of the world. And really, is that such a bad thing? It's better to try to do good things in the name of karma, then not try at all.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Nipping Breast Cancer In The Bud

Studies Show bioTheranostics’ Breast Cancer Index Identifies Breast Cancer Patients at Risk for Early and Late Recurrence, and Predicts Benefit from Extended Endocrine Therapy
Information could allow many women to avoid unnecessary treatment and identify those patients more likely to benefit from continued endocrine therapy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE…July 10, 2013…SAN DIEGO… bioTheranostics, developer of innovative molecular diagnostics, reported results from two new studies evaluating the performance of its Breast Cancer Index (BCI) biomarker assay in estrogen-receptor positive (ER+), early stage breast cancer. Study results showed that BCI predicts which women with early stage ER+ breast cancer are at risk for early and late distant recurrence, and which are most likely to benefit from continuing treatment with endocrine therapy after completing five years of tamoxifen.
BCI is a combinatorial biomarker with a novel mechanism of action composed of Molecular Grade Index (MGI) and the two-gene expression ratio HOXB13/IL17BR (H/I).
In a study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, tumor samples from 83 patients with breast cancer recurrence were matched to 166 patients without disease recurrence from the MA.17 trial, a landmark randomized clinical study that demonstrated improved disease-free survival with extended letrozole therapy in postmenopausal patients with ER+ breast cancer who were recurrence-free following an initial five years of tamoxifen therapy. In patients receiving extended endocrine therapy, a high H/I gene expression ratio, as measured by the BCI assay, remained significantly associated with benefit from extended endocrine therapy (p=0.0061), representing a 16.5 percent reduction in the risk of recurrence with extended letrozole treatment compared with placebo. Patients with low H/I did not benefit from extended letrozole treatment. The study authors concluded that the BCI assay identifies a subgroup of breast cancer patients disease-free after five years of tamoxifen therapy who are at risk for late recurrence, and that high H/I predicts benefit from extended endocrine therapy. The study was conducted by researchers from leading institutions, including Massachusetts General Hospital.
A second study, published online in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, examined the ability of the BCI test to predict early (0-5 years) and late (>5 years) distant recurrence in ER+, lymph node-negative breast cancer patients. The study was a retrospective analysis of tumor samples from tamoxifen-treated patients from the randomized, prospective Stockholm trial (n=317) and a multi-institutional cohort from two academic medical centers (n=358). Within the Stockholm trial cohort, BCI stratified the majority (~65 percent) of patients as low risk, with <3 0-5="" 5-10="" 55="" a="" and="" as="" assay="" bci="" beyond="" both="" by="" classified="" clinicopathological="" cohort="" distant="" factor="" factors="" for="" groups="" had="" in="" larger="" low="" most="" multi-institutional="" of="" patients="" percent="" prognostic="" rate="" recurrence="" risk="" significant="" standard="" the="" tumors="" was="" were="" which="" with="" years.="" years="">5 years. The authors concluded that the ability of the BCI test to assess risk of both early and late distant recurrence has clinical utility for decisions of chemotherapy at diagnosis and for decisions about extended endocrine therapy beyond five years.
Richard Ding, president and CEO of bioTheranostics, said there is a growing need for novel biomarkers in ER+ early stage breast cancer that guide disease management beyond the initial 5-year window. “Breast Cancer Index is the only biomarker test that has been shown in prospective trials to predict the benefit of extended endocrine therapy,” Ding said. “The results of these key studies illustrate the importance of the BCI test in identifying which patients are at risk for early and late breast cancer recurrence, and who among them will benefit from extended endocrine therapy, which is of significant clinical value. This critical information should allow many women to avoid unnecessary treatment and for the clinical focus to be on those in most need of therapy.”
To obtain copies of the studies:
  • “Prediction of Late Disease Recurrence and Extended Adjuvant Letrozole Benefit by the HOXB13/IL17BR Biomarker,” click here.
  • “Breast Cancer Index Identifies Early Stage ER+ Breast Cancer Patients at Risk for Early and Late Distant Recurrence,” click here.
About bioTheranostics
bioTheranostics, Inc., is the leading solution provider for metastatic cancer management, leveraging its unique expertise in gene expression profiling to develop a growing array of molecular diagnostic tests for cancer patients. The company operates a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited diagnostic laboratory to perform its proprietary tests: the CancerTYPE ID® molecular classification test; PRÉCIS® Precision Medicine, which includes biomarker profiles for non-small cell lung, colorectal, and other cancers; and Breast Cancer IndexSM, which quantifies risk of recurrence of estrogen receptor-positive, lymph node-negative breast cancer. bioTheranostics, a bioMérieux company, is based in San Diego. Learn more at

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Embrace Your Health

Once you have been in the debilitating throws of cancer, you look at people struggling with health issues in a new light.

The person tooling around in a motorized wheelchair tethered to an oxygen tank reminds me of when I was too weak to go grocery shopping. I had to jump into a wheeled cart with a basket--compliments of Stop & Shop.

I can spot women undergoing chemotherapy a mile away. I recognize their pale faces void of eyelashes and eyebrows, with hair on their heads that doesn't look quite right. I am tempted to approach these women to assure them that I was where they are and everything turned out all right. If it's in the right place and seems appropriate, sometimes I do.

I remember standing at a jewelry counter clad in my synthetic wig wearing too much makeup to mask the pallor of my face. The salesperson behind the counter had the courage to say: "You are sick aren't you?" I just nodded but felt grateful the elephant in the room was acknowledged. Then she reached out to hold my hand and said: God is watching out for you and you will be fine." I felt tears welling up in my eyes, but just nodded once again, and thanked her.

Now a member of my family is struggling desperately with their health. I realize I cannot heal them, I can't take away their frustration or their pain. But I can get them food, mow their lawn and take out the garbage. I can create as much normalcy in their life as possible.

I know--from experience--that just that alone can ease the experience of ill health. Life is hard enough. When it is a struggle to accomplish the most basic things--make a meal, clean a countertop, go to the store--you don't even want to get out of bed.

Every time I hoist a heavy piece of furniture and carry it up a flight of stairs, I am reminded that once I couldn't do this, but now I can. Once I was sick. Now I'm not. How fantastic is that?