Tuesday, October 21, 2014

“Current therapies for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are not effective”

That’s the lead sentence of a recent abstract on PubMed.gov. My gut reaction was something like, “No shit!?”

GBM has struck hard and close to me lately with a close friend from college and a close friend-of-a-friend about a block from our house being diagnosed with Glioblastoma. Emotionally, I just feel like I’ve been hit by a MACK truck.

If you are new to brain tumors, here’s a quick and bleak primer on GBM from Medscape.com: “Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common primary malignant tumor of the central nervous system. GBM advances rapidly and tends to recur after treatment, resulting in severe disability and death. The 1-year and 2-year relative survival rates for GBM are 29.6% and 9.0%, respectively. Only 3.4% of patients with a GBM diagnosis survive more than 5 years, but life expectancy for GBM in the United States has been increasing. Early identification of the tumor, surgical resection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy improve the prognosis for GBM.” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/585174
So the study’s title, “Apoptosis-inducing effects of Melissa officinalis L. essential oil in glioblastoma multiforme cells”, grabbed by eyeballs and yanked them into the rest of the abstract, which says, “Current therapies for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are not effective. 

This study investigated the activity of the M. officinalis essential oil (EO) and its major component (citral) in GBM cell lines. Both EO and citral decreased the viability and induced apoptosis of GBM cells as demonstrated by DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 activation. Antioxidant prevented citral-induced death, indicating its dependence on the production of reactive oxygen species. Citral downmodulated the activity and inhibited the expression of multidrug resistance associated protein 1 (MRP1). These results show that EO, through its major component, citral, may be of potential interest for the treatment of GBM.” See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24745610

Since I don’t understand almost everything in this abstract, I’m not totally sure what it means, but it seems to provide a flicker of hope.

Of course this just begged another question, “What are essential oils?” So, being the Googler I am, I zipped over to WebMD.com and learned that “Aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, is using a plant's aroma-producing oils (essential oils) to treat disease.” (See http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/aromatherapy-essential-oils-therapy-topic-overview for more info).

Somehow, that didn’t make me jump for joy. This doesn’t sound like a miracle cure for GBM.
Having said all that, “Essential Oils” are a hot topic on ABTA.org’s Inspire website: https://www.inspire.com/search?query=essential+oils&submit.x=11&submit.y=8

At this moment, color me yellow for curious and hoping, just hoping, that we’ve found a new weapon to use against this monstrous disease.

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_eraxion'>eraxion / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Insult to Injury: “Beauty blogger Meechy Monroe's signature afro lost to brain cancer”

One would think that having a brain tumor would be bad enough, but having a YouTube hairstylist loose her hair due to chemo and radiation just seems like insult to injury. 

I haven’t been quite so depressed since reading about Grant Achatz, the world-famous Chicago Restaurateur, having stage IV tongue cancer, or Sandra Marante, a young budding opera singer having a seizure during a rehearsal: http://johnstumor.blogspot.com/2012/03/truth-is-stranger-than-fictionits-also.html

Horribly, both Monroe and Marante are young, accomplished women who were full of promise and vitality and optimism.

The article in the Chicago Tribune, by Lolly Bowean, nicely captures all the horrible irony that hair loss for a nationally-known hair stylist commands.

Interested? If you’re not, I dare you to read the following opening sentences of Bowean's story and not be compelled to read the rest of article. Here’s the link: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-meechy-monroe-cancer-met-1007-20141011-story.html#page=1

“Over the last five years, Meechy Monroe has built a reputation and international following among black women who turned to her for hair care tips and inspiration as they turned from chemically treated hair to natural styles.

Through her blog, social media and YouTube channel, Monroe won tens of thousands of followers who longed to know just how she twisted, twirled, patted and puffed her signature, textured Afro into an elegant, bouffant-esque style. Her YouTube channel piled up more than 2.4 million views. She gained 36,000 followers on Instagram and reached thousands more through Twitter and her blog.

But recently, the 29-year-old West Pullman resident has been diagnosed with a rare brain tumor that affects just 1 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. The disease, along with the radiation and chemotherapy necessary to treat it, has changed everything for Monroe. She lost her ability to write clearly. Her speech became halting.

Added to those huge losses was another one: her hair, the glorious, dark black, curly mane that helped catapult her to icon status within the natural hair community.” (I made the last line bold because it is so ironic, although maybe “sardonic” is a better description.)