Day One of NaNo! And now, let’s talk about STAP…

It’s Day One of National Novel Writing Month! I’m officially a NaNo rebel, because I’m writing nonfiction. (Note the “novel” part. 😉 The idea is that you write 50,000 words during the month of November. (Don’t worry! I’ve done it before.) It can be done with nonfic, of course, and a lot of people seem to be doing it this year. Still, we’re kind of the stepchildren of the site… we don’t even get our own forums.

Today, I wrote the first 2000 words, yes and YAY! I’m starting with the STAP debacle from early this year. Here’s a sample (and please remember that the whole point of NaNo is that you don’t edit until you’re done… 😉

When it comes to the issue of STAP cells (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells),here’s the impression that everyone pretty much got at first, which was January 2014, when the original papers came out. There’s this new treatment coming out any day now, and all that scientists need to do is to take regular adult cells and throw them in some orange juice, or poke at them with a straw and put them through a colander, and they turn into happy shiny new cells they can change into anything. Yay! Then you go to your doctor and he makes a new special treatment just for you for any disease that you could ever possibly have in the world.

Well I have to admit that this did, and does, sound good. How could it not? A special treatment just for you, and it’s that easy? A little TOO easy…

Is the phrase “I have a bridge to sell you” coming to mind yet?

Cathy Danielson
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Cathy Danielson

In 2011, my life was shattered when I was diagnosed with a mysterious, incurable disease that always ends in blindness. The only hope on the horizon was a drug that broke all barriers in early testing. This drug, which replaces damaged cells in the eye, comes from the new class of stem cell based treatments that could cure the incurable, providing hope for patients with cancer, heart failure, ALS, cerebral palsy, and many more fatal and disabling diseases.

I survived the disease, and I now have the only remission on record. But a remission is not a cure. The stem cell drug I need for a real cure is now rapidly moving towards approval in the rest of the world, but in the USA, it—and all other cellular therapies-- are still stuck behind prejudice, ignorance, and lack of funding. Hundreds of millions of desperate patients with incurable diseases need these drugs.

That’s why I’ve gone on to fight for greater public education on stem cell drugs, knowing that our laws must be changed so that all of us can get access to the best treatments instead of our health and our lives being held hostage by special interests.

I’m now a patient advocate whose work on stem cells and patients’ rights has been published in outlets such as the Oregonian. I am a manager at popular science and financial blog www.stemcellinvestor.com and a frequent speaker at many venues across the spectrum, including churches, scientific conferences, and atheist groups, and everything in between. I’m also an advocate for Right to Try laws that would allow access to experimental medication for terminal patients at the state level. Read the entire story in my upcoming book, And the Blind Shall See: A Skeptic Patient Surprised by Faith, Science, Family, and Miracle Cures.
Cathy Danielson
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