I read an interesting article today — interesting in its own right, but more so because I first read about the subject, Coley’s Toxins, nearly 25 years ago and I last thought about that almost 23 years ago when my Mom was diagnosed with cancer.
I’ve long had a broad interest in science. I contemplated majors in oceanography, chemistry and linguistics; I enjoyed math (except for geometry) in school. After school, I subscribed to various science and health magazines. (This was long before Tim Berners-Lee birthed the Web. Ask your grandparents what it was like.) So, there’s nothing odd about me reading about obscure cancer treatments long before it had any relevance in my life. I’ll let you inform yourself about Dr. Coley and his cancer discoveries by reading the same article I just did (link at end of this entry).
It was a year or two later, 23 years ago this very month, that information about cancer took on new urgency. My Mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (or non-non, whichever is considered less likely fatal — ironically). After I recovered from utter despair, I recalled the article I had read about this little-known treatment. I thought it might be called Coxey’s Toxins (one of the endlessly amusing effects of my dyslexia). I scoured the library’s periodicals. Imagine going to an old building and leafing through huge books with article titles to find a reference, then taking that to a librarian who would find the actual magazine somewhere in the dark stacks. No, that isn’t a metaphor: that’s what happened, once I found Coley instead of Coxey.
I reread that article and confirmed the hope it offered: cancer cells are weak and succumb to fever. Induce fever in a cancer patient and the cancer may die. (The new article offers other possible explanations for the effect.) Armed with a photocopy, I approached my Mother’s doctor and asked, “what about this?” Well, our cancer specialist was a busy man, to be sure, and educated beyond the likes of a distraught son with an article from a popular digest. No doubt my Mom had more faith in me, but she took her conventional chemo like a good patient. Was the mainstream cure really worse than the disease? Given how sick and weak it made her and that it was no cure at all, probably. mjh
Damn Interesting » Coley’s Cancer-Killing Concoction