I studied science. I have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in biochemistry.
I know that cancer begins with the genes in a cell. The genes cause changes that make the cell cancerous.
Likewise, I know that a virus contains either DNA or RNA (not both, as in a cell). And the DNA or RNA in a virus can mutate. That is how, for example, we get variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus that causes COVID-19).
Now, this is where you might think I’m crazy. I sometimes wonder if the genes in cells and viruses are somehow sentient and know what pain and trouble they will cause people when they mutate. For example, one cell in Jenny’s breast tissue might be saying, “Hmmm. I think that in this gene, I will swap a guanine for a cytosine. Let’s see if that teaches her to wear such tight bras!” Bad, bad cell.
Or if the SARS-CoV-2 virus is saying, “Hmmm. Those people think they have beaten me with their vaccines, huh? I’ll just change an adenosine to a thymine over here, and…BAM! The vaccine won’t work and people will suffer again.”
Okay, I admit, that’s weird talk. I know that genes don’t think.
This is where this post turns serious.
Today would have been the 60th birthday of a friend who succumbed to cancer in 2019. He was taken too soon. I remember his funeral at our church: the huge auditorium was close to filled, the worship band played such powerful songs, his children and business partner and wife (a close friend of mine) gave eulogies.
Cancer is such a jerk. My mother survived it and, thankfully, is now in remission, but it made her suffer a great deal and I remember watching her suffer. It wasn’t easy on anyone in the family, especially Mom.
COVID, too, is a jerk. I don’t personally know anyone who died or was hospitalized from it, but I know of people who did. One gentleman I know spoke to me of a young man he knew who was afflicted with the disease. His ventilator was removed only because he had no hope of living and the hospital needed the ventilator for a person who did have hope. And I still can’t get over seeing images on TV of huge refrigerators being used to store bodies.
Sometimes I wish genes could think–specifically, of the horrible potential damage they can do just by mutating one nucleotide base pair. (There is a large number of diseases that can also be caused by gene mutations; it would take days to write about all of them, but the people who have these diseases suffer just as much, if not more.) Then maybe the genes would think twice before they mutate.