A Harvard Gazette article on blood cancer mutations…

I’ve always wondered if I would have been better off knowing that someday I might develop multiple myeloma…or any other disease, for that matter.

Before I go on, I want to tell you a short personal story: about 25 years ago I found out that one of the students in my M.A. program was a psychic/fortune teller. I also found out that she’d told some interesting things to some of my colleagues. Well, I’m a born skeptic, but I was intrigued, I admit. And so one day I asked her if she’d tell me my “fortune,” too. She agreed (very nice lady, btw). So off we went, all the way up a hill overlooking the campus, far away from everyone. I don’t remember much about our encounter, but I do recall that she first looked at my hands and then held them for a while. She told me a bunch of things, some of which she couldn’t possibly have known, ending with this ominous statement: “You won’t die of old age.”


I remember feeling very uneasy…and at a loss for words. I’m certain that I didn’t ask the obvious follow-up question: “well, what will I die of, then?” I’m such an inquisitive creature, especially now, that I sometimes regret NOT having asked that question…

Okay, back to the reason I’m writing on this rather peculiar topic: yesterday afternoon I read a very interesting Harvard Gazette article on a group of Harvard and MIT researchers who have discovered “an easily detectable, premalignant state in the blood,” which identifies those folks who are more likely to end up with blood cancer: http://goo.gl/KUvF8V

Interesting read, don’t you think?

So let’s say you are in your 20s — the same age I was when I was told my “fortune.” You go in to have blood tests and find out that you have a 10% risk of developing blood cancer at some point in your life. Then, after decades of worrying and fretting and whatnot, you turn out to be as healthy as turmeric root. Unless my math is totally off, in fact, about 90% of the folks with the mutated cells will NOT develop any kind of blood cancer…

Now, wouldn’t it have been better NOT to have been told in the first place? Is it really worth it to go through life with a perhaps nonexistent sword hanging over your head?

That said, if I had known about my risk factor AND about curcumin long before I was diagnosed with MGUS, I wonder if things might have turned out differently. Would I still be at the MGUS stage? Or would I not have developed MGUS at all?

Who knows?

Anyway, I’m curious to know what the researchers will come up with next. If they could find a way to stop the subset of naughty cells from developing…Well, that would be a great bit of news indeed!