Several days ago, my oldest graduated from college!
There’s a certain picture of her that triggered a tsunami of gratitude.
Thanks to research, I was there. At her graduation. Taking that picture.
Thanks to research, my oncologists knew which combinations of treatments and drugs would work best for me.
Thanks to research, I continue on maintenance treatment to decrease the likelihood of any recurrence.
Thanks to research.
But what does that mean, really?
It means that thanks to a fleet of people I do not know and never will, my doctors could mostly know what effect my treatments would have on my particular cancer.
It means that creative scientists figured out how to take perfectly innocent compounds existing in the natural world and extrapolate that those compounds might have an application in cancer treatment. Taxol, for example, was initially derived from a yew tree.
It means that someone, somewhere participated in a first in human trial. Taking a giant leap of faith to help determine the human effects of a drug. What scientists call “bench to bedside”, when a research scientist has the opportunity to go from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside.
It means that teams of people worked together to gain FDA approval for the medications I used for my treatments.
It means that smart creative surgeons researched the best possible surgical process to remove my cancer and obtain clean margins.
It means I have a long list of nameless people who stood behind me so I could attend my daughter’s college graduation.
It means there is one name from the long list that I do know. My late husband was part of the team that worked on Taxol.
It means that even in death he stands behind me, too.
All thanks to research.
It means there is ever more research to do.
Because too many people don’t make it to the next family milestone.