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Rebecca Robinson
Cynthia Hamlett
Research Assignment
30 July 2015
Understanding Cancer: Its Complexity and How it Affects our Lives
How does cancer work inside ones body? Leukemia is a group of cancers that start in the
bone marrow, lung cancer is a cancerous growth in the lung tissue. We should always be cautious
as to which area you choose to live and work, because the environment may increase your likely
hood of cancer. Clearly, cancer is a complex foe, with no single cause, no single treatment, and
no magic bullet. Cancer has been around for many years. Our main focus of this sometimes
deadly illness is Lung and Leukemia. Some may ask How does a person contract cancer, What
happens when cancer invades the red and white blood cells? Is there a cure for cancer or ways
of slowing down this deadly illness? These are questions our family members want to know and
people around the world who have loved ones and friends who are terminally ill. First, we must
understand what lung and leukemia cancer is and how it works. By definition, Lung Cancer is a
cancerous growth in the lung tissue. Lung Cancer also known as carcinoma of the lung or
pulmonary carcinoma, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in
tissues of the lung. By definition, Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. Leukemia is a group of
cancers that start in the bone marrow and has an abnormal amount of white blood cells. Lets
look at an example of how having cancer can change a person and their familys lives.
There was once a middle aged man, married with three sons. He and his wife were
married for twenty-eight years. Thomas was a hard worker and loved his family he was a war
veteran served in the military before he and his wife were married. As time went on, Thomas has

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had a few jobs, one recently was roofing and cleaning out attics. One evening he had come home
and begin to feel ill, but kept this to himself not to worry his wife or children, so he just went on
with life and continued to work until he couldnt work any longer. Thomas soon couldnt work at
all due to his illness that he didnt want to face. Everyone in his family started to notice his
weight loss at family gatherings. Many thought he was exercising, maybe trying to live a
healthier lifestyle, but soon retracted that thought because everyone knew him and knew he
wasnt the type. So one afternoon he and his wife went to the doctor to see why the sudden
coughing, weight loss and fatigued occurred rapidly. He could see in his wifes eyes that she was
thinking the worst. But hoping and praying for something not so serious. She had those thoughts
Cancer? No this cant be please let it be something else. She was abruptly interrupted as the
doctor called her husbands name. As they walked down the cold ice like hallway they squeezed
one anothers hands tight as to not let go. The doctor came in to see them, and told them Thomas
would have to take some test and it may take a few days to get the results. A few days went past,
Thomass wife was worried, and she just sat in the living room waiting for the phone to ring. She
could notice her husband diminishing every day and not looking well or having any energy for
anything. The phone rang, It was the doctor, she picked up, Hello she replied, she just stood
there and listened for what seemed like a lifetime, but was only twenty minutes or so. Her heart
dropped to her knees as she heard the most feared words, Im sorry to inform you that your
husband has stage IV lung cancer and there is no cure. She hung up the phone and begin to cry
and sob. Her husband already knew it wasnt good news. Days, months passed, after hearing the
news and sharing it with family they just decided the best thing to do from now on was to spend
time with family near or far from here on out. Upon his family seeing him again they knew by

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the look of his skin and body he wasnt going to last through-out the year. Soon enough a month
passed by and he passed away.
The important message in this short story is to always go to a doctor when a person isnt
feeling well and share it with their family no matter how embarrassed they may feel. They do not
want to wait until its too late. Also to be careful the field they choose to work in, they should
check if in the long run if it will have detrimental consequences to thier health. Clegg. Ellen.
ChemoBrain: How Cancer Therapies Affect Your Mind.(pg.20) States part of the challenge of
understanding cancer is understanding its diversity, which scientist call heterogeneity. Cancer can
affect any part of the human body and can be caused by a number of effects. Namely the way
they live their life, their diet, their work place and the environment that they are surrounded by.
In Clegg, Ellen. ChemoBrain: How Cancer Therapies Can Affect Your Mind; What
patients, families, and Doctors Need to Know. The book states that Billions of dollars have been
devoted to research since President Richard Nixon declared a notional war on cancer and
congress passed the National Cancer Act in 1971. Yet in 2006, about 1.4 million Americans were
diagnosed with the disease, and 564,000 died. Clearly, cancer is a complex foe, with no single
cause, no single treatment, and no magic bullet. (pg.19) We can assume society and people today
wonder if billions of dollars and research have been spent on cancer alone, then why they havent
found a cure for this illness is beyond us. Lets rest assure that today doctors and scientist are
much closer than they were in the eighteenth century to finding a cure for cancer. We can assume
they spend countless hours in research and testing to find a cure. Doctors dating back to the
eighteenth century have found a connection between the environment and cancer. Also declares,
cancer cells reproduce wildly, breaking free from the normal controls on cell division, and can
spread to new territory throughout the body. Many people believe when someone mentions the

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word chemotherapy its definition is strictly related to cancer. At last this is false, the word
chemotherapy can be related to antibiotics one is taking for a sickness theyve encountered.
Modernly society has overwhelmed the meaning, in news, television shows, articles, and
literature that chemotherapy is strictly associated with cancer.
According to JAMA- Journal of the American Medical Association, being labeled as
having lung cancer changes a persons life. Anxiety, depression, embarrassment, and disruptions
to family and work relationships are common. We can see how one would have anxiety,
depression and a disruption to ones family can affect a person wellbeing. They are at the stage
of finding out whether they are at a Stage I or worse even a Stage IV of cancer and by this time
worry and fear begins to settle in causing anxiety and depression. The family fears for the loved
one and the loved one doesnt want to leave or isnt ready to go and they have to come to grips
and understanding that they are going to die and that there is no hope for them as of now.
According to Marion Morra and Eve Potts: Choices: The Most Complete Sourcebook for
Cancer Information. Cancer has puzzled scientist for more than 2,000 years. Studies say that all
cancers, therefore, are genetic malfunctions of cells that cannot function normally, and are unable
to die. Studies also show that cancer does not work the same in everyones bodies. It can be
hereditary if that person has the damaged gene that the family member has. The damaged gene
can be passed on to other family members and in this case a person will contract the cancer that
way. All the while, scientist believe cancer comes in three stages: initiation, promotion, and
progression. (pg.74) It is evaluated that the initiator portion of the progress is to the damaged cell
and this then causes changes that may lead to cancer. Other factors that can play of the cause of
cancer are; tobacco smoke, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, radon gas, and certain chemicals. Some
promotions can be caused by some of the natural substances found in the body are the following;

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acids, estrogens, and androgens. Often when cancer cells are found early enough wont spread
through other organs of the body, but only if left untreated they are at stake of mutating and
become more malignant. At this stage of progression it may or perhaps in special cases be too
late.
Now lets consider for a fact, scientific research shows that eighty to ninety percent cause
of lung cancer is smoking. But yet again people have never smoked can also obtain lung cancer
from second hand smoke or being in an environment that has harsh chemicals that they breathe
in daily. Another cause can be a blood relative who has lung cancer can be at risk as well of this
particular cancer. So what happens when cancer grows on ones lungs? A tumor starts to grow on
the lining of the bronchiole, in this case it may interfere with breathing and cause a wheezing
noise s air passes through. From the wheezing a cough may start as it obstructs the upward
movement of mucus. If there is an infection there will be blood that comes out when they cough
ranging from a dark to rusty color. If in any case this is not caught earlier on the cancer cells start
off small in the bronchiole and then makes its way into the lymph system and starts to spread too
other organs of the body at a very rapid pace.
To put it in another way, one study by John Laszlo, an estimated 149,000 new cases of
lung cancer occurred in 1986 and there were 130,000 deaths, and this was only in the United
States. Of these deaths 40,100 were woman, female deaths from lung cancer has been on the rise
since the 1980s. Many people have thought that only those who have smoked cigarettes will
contract lung cancer, but most of the time those who dont smoke are what seems to be at higher
risk for this disease rather than smokers who have smoked all their lives. It seems to be an
environmental issue as well as second hand smoke can cause lung cancer. Can we imagine since
1986 how many lives cancer has taken? The vast majority of deaths within the Lung cancer

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spectrum are astounding and were sure that this number will continue to rise within the
upcoming years if a cure is not found.
In short, research states, according to Linda Geddes, more people have died with lung
cancer than any other type of cancer. Many people who have never smoked may be genetically
predisposed to lung cancer by the pollution of the air they are exposed to. An interesting note that
we have found is many people with lung cancer are often less likely to be referred to an
oncologist, rather than people with other types of lung cancers. As well as lung cancer only
receiving a fraction of funding compared to other cancers out there. Why it is that lung cancer
receives only a fraction of the funding and the patients arent being referred to doctors! This
should make people furious. For instance, if it were their loved one that had this illness and
doctors would just what seems to be turning a blind eye to their loved one because it being lung
cancer and doesnt seem like an important priority on their list. Would they care than?
Nevertheless, were not saying that all doctors do this, but another researcher by the name of
Kimberly Leonard has come to the same findings. In fact, within her studies on the illness Lung
cancer takes some 160,000 lives annually, but money for this research in this area still lags. Two
medical oncologist one from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and another from
Harvard Medical School, say too much shame and guilt is directed at those with the disease and
it prevents people from talking about lung cancer, which leads to little awareness and advocacy.
As we have stated in our story earlier, Thomas was afraid to say anything to his family in the
beginning until it soon started to show and come to light. They should have more people and
physicians who will advocate for those who have lung cancer and show awareness for these
patients. Maybe others wouldnt be so quiet and afraid to talk about their disease with others. A
patient shouldnt have to feel guilty about having a disease. Its the specialist and physicians jobs

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to help them feel cared for and comfortable. We need more advocacy workers for this disease,
like they have for the other types of cancer.
To take a look at our other focus Leukemia, according to Veronique Greenwood, This
disease is a cancer of the blood, usually of the white blood cells called B cells. Cancerous B cells
are not only useless for fighting infection, they also grow out of control, leading to swollen
lymph nodes, anemia, and frequent infections. Studies say that many people can survive
leukemia with the help of chemotherapy and other drugs. Also, this diseases isnt just a childs
disease. Many adults are susceptible for this disease and most of the time if not all survive it.
One researcher, Porter and colleague Carl June had injected three leukemia patients with
genetically modified versions of their own immune cells to seek and destroy their cancer. Porter
and Junes strategy was to enable the bodys own immune system to eliminate cancer cells. If
researchers stay on this track of trying new experiments and these experiments working, why not
use them? Test like these seem to be on the right path to finding a cure. We shouldnt give up on
our loved ones or researchers or scientist, with test like these they are on the rapid approach of
finding a cure. We just have to stand by support and advocate and let them do their jobs.
According to an unknown study found in USA Today Magazine, states that physicians
and scientist are using many techniques to fight cancer. One of which is bone marrow transplants
a method used to treat nonsolid tumor cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple
myeloma. Bone marrow transplants is a fairly new procedure between 10 to 15 years old. Today,
individuals up to the age of 75 can be treated and the bone marrow can be their own, cleansed
and prepared for reentry into the body. Because the elderly cant handle such major doses, they
are administered lesser levels of medication. Knowing what we have been told about leukemia,
its only a childs disease, adults dont get this disease, or that only chemotherapy can help

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someone with the disease. These accusations are all false. Not only is it not a childs disease,
adults do in fact get leukemia and chemotherapy is not the only way to help with this illness. It is
but yet an aid to help with the sickness. Come to find out from research found in our studies bone
marrow is also a way to help those who have leukemia.
There are four types of leukemias that affect adults in significant numbers, and there have
been dramatic improvements in survival rates in two of them according to the National Cancer
Institute (NCI). Bone marrow transplants also have been important in halting the problem of
relapse in myeloid leukemia. Secondly, allogenic bone marrow transplants provide a person the
best chance for the cure of chronic myelongenous leukemia. With this type of leukemia it has
been a death sentence in the past, but now have about a 95% cure rate. According to several
University of Michigan Cancer Center researchers have discovered that one of the genes
involved in the development of leukemia makes two different proteins- one that causes cancer
cells to divide and grow, another that inhibits cancer growth. (USA Today)
Being that there are a few types of leukemia, they all have a success rate of surviving. All
that we have known in the past is that people who have cancer will at some point die. There used
to be no help for patients with cancer. Now that research has come a long way, there are many
survival rates with these types of cancer in adults. Not to say that this cancer is the only one that
people have survived from, researchers are still finding new ways and performing test to figure
out how to stop cancer completely. For example, with chronic myelongenous leukemia it used to
be known as a death sentence and now that time has passed it now has a 95% survival rate!
We can only hope and pray for the best for our loved ones who have cancer, but with the
help of researchers and scientist we have a higher hope of them surviving. Even if we dont
know or have a loved one personally with cancer, we should still support cancer research and be

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an advocate for those who do have cancer. Who knows it may be someones friend, classmate, or
co-worker who has cancer or their loved one. If they had a loved one who had these diseases
they would want them to care and support them. So we should all do the same in supporting
others and take a little time to learn and be an advocate for those who cant advocate for
themselves.

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Works Cited
Clegg, Ellen. Cancer And Its Treatment ChemoBrain: Cancer Therapies Can Affect Your Mind
New York: Amherst, 2009. 19-36 Print.
Geddes, Linda. Underfunded, Undertreated. New Scientist 214.2871 (2012): 6-8. Web
Greenwood, Veronique. Immune Supercells Purge Leukemia. Discover 33.1 (2012) Web
Harris, P. Russel. Starting a New Discussion About Screening for Lung Cancer Journal of the
American Medical Association 4 (2015): 717-718. Print
Laszlo, John. Cancer Statistics: The Big Picture Understanding Cancer Lung Cancer,
Leukemia New York: 80-83 Print.
Leonard, Kimberly. Taking a New Look at a Killer Disease. U.S News Digital Weekly 5.48
(2013): n. pag. Web
Morra, Marion, Potts, Eve. Is Cancer Inherited Choices: The most complete sourcebook for
cancer information. 74 Print.
Transplant Can Save Cancer Patients. USA Today Magazine 132.2701 (2003) 6-6 Web
Were Winning the Battle Against Cancer USA Today Magazine 121.2568 (1992)