March 23, 2011

Fitty (per) cent

50 takes on cancer in Things Fall Apart
I am half way through chemoradiation therapy and I still look and feel human.

All together I will have 28 doses of radiation. This is called long-course radiation. Each day I lay on the zapper, am placed in exactly the same position (my tattoos help the technicians line me up just so) and hold still while three beams of ionizing radiation are directed at my tumour.

I lay on my belly and first have to pull my man-bits down (to move my baby-making machinery as far as possible from the beam). I became okay with manipulating my genitals in front of strangers at about the same time I became okay with baring my bottom.

Remember my yellow car, red car analogy for cancer? I used it to explain the basic difference in the way cancer and non-cancer cells behave. It is easy to think of cars because we all know what they are.

Red cars are out of control and no longer follow the road rules. The problem is a big cluster of them are parked at the centre of a yellow zone filled with yellow cars. For the radiation to get to the red cars it has to pass through a lot of yellow cars: this means normal healthy cells are being zapped during the radiation.

A cell from my small intestine being cared for and repaired
The yellow cars know how to repair themselves or know where to go and get fixed. When the red cars decided to abandon the road rules they also threw away the repair manual and directions to the mechanic: this means cancer tissue is not good at healing itself.

Damaged and without road-side assistance: cancer cells

This basic difference means that all the healthy tissues in the firing line can sustain damage without shutting down. The tumour isn't so lucky. The hope is that enough cells will get damaged by the ionizing radiation, shrinking the tumour.


  1. Excellent sci comm bro, I'm learning lots. The car analogy is gold.

  2. I haven't come across sci comm with such a high degree of personal man-parts detail before.

    I just caught up with the news of your cancer and treatment: all the best and I hope you have it beaten really soon.

    Best, Geoff.

  3. Haha, I love the inclusion of 50 cent. Maybe he could play you in the movie based on your book based on your blog?