Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Stem Cell Evie
On the third day that I was there, he announced to his disciples that his body was in pain, that it was arthritic, but that he still had work to finish on this plane. He said he was going to leave his body the next day at 3 pm and take on the body of a younger person. He said that someone would slip on the street and crack his head. "I will take up that body," he said. I listened as I usually do, and we couldn't wait for the morrow to come. Nobody cared that he was going to die. We wanted to see if he could do what he said.
At 3 pm the next day, he was sitting in the lotus posture, he stiffened, and he did die! I felt for a pulse but there was none. I pinched him. Nothing happened. His body was an empty shell. We fooled around with his body for about a half hour to see if we could bring him back to life. Nothing.
We heard a commotion outside. Sure enough, a young man had slipped on the street — it was raining — and hit his head. A crowd had gathered and a doctor was there. He was pronounced dead. All of a sudden, the young man got up and ran into the forest. No one ever heard of him again…
Anything is possible.
Never believe that something is impossible.
It limits you.
Even if you haven't experienced it yourself, have faith that within you lie infinite possibilities.
Robert Adams, The Mountain Path article, 1993.
You don’t have to believe Adams’ story, though I find that I can’t dismiss it out of hand.
I share it now to put into context the point worth making: don’t let beliefs limit you.
Anything is possible… which brings to mind a word I love: “totipotency”.
Do you realize we all begin as “totipotent” cells?
That’s how a biologist would say “anything is possible.”
And from totipotency we descend into the merely “pluripotent” – stem cells that can become any tissue in the body.
I also like Adams’ story because it is such a “control-alt-delete” moment.
That is exactly where Evie finds herself today as she embarks upon her stem cell transplant.
From the moment I heard about the transplant specific words and an image came together in my mind.
I heard “Stem Cell Evie” and I saw her photo: age 6 or 7, young and strong and whole.
So I dug the photo out of the box it’d been stored in for years and propped it up on my dresser.
I wanted to see her every day in all her pluripotency.
I wanted to reinforce a simple fact: Eve possesses every gene she needs to be perfectly healthy.
It’s just that some genes have become encumbered or entangled in their programming.
One of the first discoveries we made as we started reading up on Hodgkin’s lymphoma was totally surprising to me. Hodgkin’s isn’t so much a case of some critical gene or genes having mutated and become permanently dysfunctional. Rather, a few cancerous cells are being nourished and supported by a host of non-cancerous cells that are producing inflammatory products.
What this means is that the disease can be eradicated if those support cells simply shift their physiology: some genes need to be turned off and others need to be turned on.
This is very doable. Why? Because genes get turned on and off all the time.
Biologists like to speak of the “program of development” we all go through as we mature.
We don’t go through life using all of our genes all the time.
There is a constant up and down regulation.
Some genes are off most of the time. Some are on most of the time.
Some are off, then turned on. Some are on, then shut off.
You can even adjust the volume, so to speak – way turned up or just barely on.
Stem cells represent the original setting of the genes. By going for a transplant we’re admitting that the programming has gotten all screwed up. There’s been such fiddling with the controls that it’s easier now to simply hit control-alt-delete and start at the begining.
So, I have set out two pictures of my “Stem Cell Evie.”
It’s my way of seeing and affirming, “Yes. The genes are all there and working fine.”
It’s my way of re-enforcing the resetting of Eve’s genetic program.
I see these photos and am flooded with love and that too flows to those genes.
This is biology and this is prayer.
And this is the Song of the Day.