Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced they will cover Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) for cancer! This is a major victory for all cancer patients.
I feel so 21st century. I’m streaming my first Amazon Prime movie on our home TV. Not a bad bit of tech work for a 60-something.
It’s amazing how many choices, purchases, technologies, services, and connections this effort required:
- research and buy a digital TV (years ago)
- research and buy a Blu-Ray player (many months later)
- research and contract with a high-speed Internet service provider
- upgrade Comcast service to faster Internet
- order upgraded cable modem from Comcast
- activate new cable modem and upgrade its software
- buy new Wi-Fi router with range and bandwidth to reach the TV
- ensure I have all necessary cables (whoops, another trip to the tech store)
- set up router
- wire modem to router and confirm connection
- set up home Wi-Fi network
- wire TV to Blu-Ray player and confirm connection
- connect Blu-Ray player to home Wi-Fi network
- update Blu-Ray player software (from version 2007 to 2021)
- use networked PC to subscribe to Amazon Prime
- install Amazon app on Blu-Ray
- find Amazon app amidst other apps on Blu-Ray player
- login to Amazon app
- use Blu-Ray player find and select a movie
- start streaming …
… and discover that so many neighbors are streaming movies at the same time on Comcast that your movie won’t play.
Who knew home entertainment could be so complicated?
Good thing fixing healthcare only takes some quick legislation.
In some ways, my father was ahead of his time. An engineer, aviator, inventor, WWII vet, and medical doctor (Ok, he was an overachiever), Dad wanted all of his children, regardless of gender identity, to have a good science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education because he believed it would be essential for thriving in the future economic and political landscape. “Education is something that no one can take away from you,” he told me more than once.
Dad (and Mom too) fought school policy to make sure I was allowed to take science instead of being forced to take Home Economics with the other girls. Dad taught me how to use a slide rule, and when my math class did not cover essential concepts–like using π to calculate the area of a circle–he taught me himself (though at the time I would have much rather gone to bed). He advocated so that I and some other advanced students could take algebra and chemistry a year early, which allowed us to cram all the available STEM classes into four high school years. And he made sure that I could afford to attend my choice of colleges that focused on science and engineering.
In his sparse free time (he was a practicing family doctor while working as chief engineer at his father’s company on the side), he showed me how an oscilloscope could analyze an electronic circuit, taught me how to find the constellations using a telescope, took me and a classmate out in his boat to collect plankton for a science project, and talked to my physiology class about medicine.
True, he missed most every ball game, skipped a lot of music concerts, and often wasn’t home to read to me (thankfully Mom picked up the slack). True, I had issues with his insistence on perfection and lack of positive feedback. Still, I am the happy, inquisitive science geek I am today in large part because my father made sure my scientific curiosity and abilities were nurtured.
So, thanks, Dad, for believing in me. Despite your humanity and parenting missteps, you made a positive difference in my life. I wish 60-year-old me could talk to you face to face and make sure you knew how much I loved you–and love you still–and reassure you that I know how much you did for me.
To all who have been, will be, or wished they were fathers; who stand in as a loving father figure; or who had or wished they had a good father ….
may you spend Father’s Day remembering or making happy memories.
Yesterday (September 7, 2016) marked the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek’s first airing. I can’t count the ways in which this show has influenced me. The biggest conscious influences:
- encouraged me to pursue a career in science and engineering
- motivated me to write my own stories
- helped me to accept that being analytical, making mistakes and expressing emotions are all OK
- showed people using logic and science to solve difficult problems (yeah, OK, and sometimes emotional convictions, intuition and force–that’s human too)
- showed me that others also value an upbeat vision of a future based on exploration (concepts as well as new places and people), tolerance, celebrating differences, and the scientific method.
Thanks to Gene Roddenberry and the multitudes of dedicated, creative people who helped bring the world of Star Trek to screens big, small, and flat.
Here’s an example of technology making a huge positive difference in healthcare, with very little fanfare.
While waiting for the dentist to see me during my recent checkup, I asked the hygienist if they had an old printer running a large print job–I could hear a continuing buzz from somewhere in the office. I was imagining a 1970’s style printers with those spiky little wheels feeding long continuous sheets of paper and a dot-matrix ink cartridge zipping back and forth, like those that ran our card batch jobs during my college days (yeah, I’m that old).
Turns out, it wasn’t an OLD printer. She took me into the next room and showed me a device the size of a microwave.
My dentist can now create a custom crown using a 3D printer during one office visit. The system designs the crown using 3D imaging to ensure a good fit in your mouth–no more temporary, ill-fitting crowns. More on the process is here.
So we have a new variation on Precision Medicine–custom crowns designed while you wait. Technology is so cool.
If you are a cancer patient advocate interested in attending ASCO 2016, consider applying for the Conquer Cancer Foundation Patient Advocate Scholarship Program.
I have attended ASCO’s annual meeting in Chicago for the past two years. While the five-day conference can be exhausting, it’s perhaps the best way to learn what treatments are up and coming for your type of cancer, become educated about the science behind research and clinical trials, and discover (and even chat with) the experts in your type of cancer. It’s also a place to meet the people in your cancer community who you might only know online.
The ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) 2016 Annual Meeting–held in Chicago June 3-7–will bring together over 30,000 cancer professionals from around the world for sessions about state-of-the-art treatment, results of clinical trials, as well as policy, advocacy, and survivorship issues. You might strike up a conversation with a world-class expert in your type of cancer at a poster presentation or even walking between sessions. The exhibit hall is a great place to learn about new biotech technologies (such as genomic testing panels and liquid biopsies) as well as what’s in each pharmaceutical company’s drug pipeline.
The Patient Advocate Scholarships are intended for expenses related to air or train travel, lodging, and meeting registration for advocates traveling from outside the Chicago area to attend the meeting (which can add up to $2K US or more). Eligibility is based primarily on financial need as well as advocacy experience and current activities. Applicants will need to demonstrate why they would not be able to afford to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting without a scholarship award, and are encouraged to provide a compelling reason why their attendance at the meeting is vital to their advocacy role(s).
Although the application period for the doesn’t open until April 4, get an early start now on preparing your application –the application period will only open for three days!
The Norwescon 39 Science Fiction Convention happens March 24-27, 2016, in SeaTac, Washington. I will once again be a science panelist. You can find me on the panels listed below, or maybe hanging out in the bar with other writers and science geeks, scarfing down a snack in the Green Room, or wandering the corridors on my way to the art show, dealers room, a friend’s reading, or an interesting panel. hope to see you there!
BIO21 – Blinded by Pseudoscience
Fri 6:00 PM-7:00 PM – Cascade 3&4
Gregory Gadow (M), Janet Freeman-Daily, Caroline Pate, Dr. Misty Marshall, Jake McKinzie
TEC05 – Real Radiation for Writers & Readers
Fri 8:00 PM-9:00 PM – Cascade 5&6
Mike Brennan (M), Janet Freeman-Daily, Arthur Bozlee, Daniel P. Lynge
BIO20 – Facts & Fictions of Cancer
Sat 1:00 PM-2:00 PM – Cascade 5&6
Janet Freeman-Daily (M), Dr. Misty Marshall, Vickie Bligh, Nicholas Maurice
BIO16 – Ask the Experts: Biology
Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM – Cascade 5&6
Alan Andrist (M), Janet Freeman-Daily, Caroline Pate, Dr. Misty Marshall, Nicholas Maurice
TEC01 – Remembering In Tomorrow
Sat 7:00 PM-8:00 PM – Cascade 9
Sean Hagle (M), Janet Freeman-Daily, Michael Ormes
BIO19 – Evolution Is Just a Theory!
Sun 10:00 AM-11:00 AM – Cascade 5&6
Dr. Ricky (M), Janet Freeman-Daily, Alan Andrist, Michael McSwiney, Jake McKinzie
BIO03 – Future Pharma
Sun 2:00 PM-3:00 PM – Cascade 5&6
Janet Freeman-Daily (M), Caroline Pate, Vickie Bligh, Nicholas Maurice