Employee’s courage inspired by our cancer patients

Origin Print – MDAnderson.org


 Angelina was Shamsha Damani’s best friend for three years. A constant in the MD Anderson program director’s daily life, well-known to her large family and even some of her co-workers, Angelina wasn’t someone Damani met in school, a mentor at work or a beloved pet.

Angelina was her wig.

A new look

Just after starting her job at MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center, Damani noticed that her hair was falling out at a rapid pace. She didn’t worry initially. She’d had autoimmune issues in the past, and it had always grown back.

This time was different. Within a month, she’d lost all of her hair on her head, even her eyebrows and eyelashes, due to an autoimmune disorder called alopecia.

“I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror, and it was really rough at first,” she says. “Whenever I looked at family photos, it was painful because I knew I’d never look like that again.”

There is currently no treatment or cure for alopecia, but her family’s support kept her moving forward and discovering how to live with her new condition. Her sister found the wig makers who created Angelina (named after actress Angelina Jolie); her son was the voice of positivity throughout everything.

“When I was upset about how I looked different from before my alopecia, he told me, ‘Mom, pretend you were born this way, and let’s make new memories for our photos,’ which was great advice, especially given he was 7 at the time,” she recalls.

Wanting to make a difference

When she was younger, Damani wanted to help find the cure for terrible diseases like cancer. So after earning a degree in biology, she was excited to start work in a research lab at the Baylor College of Medicine.

“I walked in my first day and had a terrible reaction,” she remembers. “I’m apparently very allergic to mouse dander, and since I was hired specifically to work with the mice, the lab had to rearrange to get me into a research role that didn’t involve them.”

She stayed in research for a few years before deciding she wasn’t interested in becoming a scientist. Her knowledge of medicine and diseases was put to use in her next role here, as a librarian in our Learning Center and then in our Research Medical Library. In every position, she liked how her work allowed her to make a difference to our patients.

After some changes at home, Damani decided to make a change at work as well, and went back to school full-time, earning her MBA from Rice University. Upon graduating, she wanted to try something new, so she set about trying to make a difference through a recycling and sustainability program.

“I had great experiences there, but it just wasn’t like working at MD Anderson,” she says. “I got back here as fast as I could.”

Inspired by our cancer patients

Still, Damani was growing self-conscious at work. She wore Angelina every day and was taking great care with her appearance, but she suspected she wasn’t fooling anyone.

“Can you tell I’m wearing a wig?” she thought. “Everyone can tell I’m wearing a wig!”

But coming to work at MD Anderson day after day helped put things into perspective for Damani.

“Our patients are such an inspiration to me,” she says. “Compared to what they have to go through for treatments, simply having a bald head is nothing.”

Damani decided to come clean to her co-workers last year. She wrote an email warning her colleagues that she’d look different the next Monday and was stunned at the outpouring of support she received when she showed up without her wig. She hasn’t worn Angelina to work since.

“Everyone was so incredibly kind to me,” she says. “It’s really opened up my relationships with my colleagues and created an environment where we can support each other even better.”

Feeling herself again

Coming to work without her wig has let Damani get more comfortable with her true self: She’s not hiding behind Angelina.

The only drawback? “Sometimes my head gets cold in conference rooms!” she says.

But she’s found she connects better with others through her alopecia. A bald head can be a conversation starter, and she’s learned that by making herself vulnerable, others feel more able to do the same.

“Everyone has scars they carry with them from their life, but some are more visible than others,” she says. “Mine’s obvious, and I use it as a way to help people when they want to talk but don’t know how.”

How does Herceptin work for breast cancer?

Origin Print in: Medical News Today
Last updated
Herceptin is the trade name of the drug trastuzumab. It was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 1998 for the treatment of metastatic HER 2 over-expressing breast cancer.

In 2006, it was approved for use in early stage breast cancer, in combination with standard breast cancer chemotherapy.

Studies have indicated that Herceptin improves survival rates in both early and late-stage breast cancer, known as metastatic cancer. In 2014, it was reported that Herceptin, combined with chemotherapy, increased the 10-year chance of survival among breast cancer patients from 75 percent to 84 percent.

How does Herceptin work?

Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody, and it interferes with the HER2/neu receptor.

[breast cancer survivors]

Herceptin is a drug that is helping women to survive breast cancer.

A monoclonal antibody is a biological treatment that is used for some kinds of cancer, either with chemotherapy or alone.

Cells produce proteins, and the monoclonal antibody recognizes and attaches itself to a particular protein.

Human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) proteins affect the growth, adhesion, migration, differentiation, and survival of cells.

HER is found at high levels on cancer cells. This may explain why cancer cells divide so rapidly.

Different antibodies work in different ways, depending on their target protein, so that different antibodies will be used for different cancers.

The antibodies used in cancer therapy have various ways of attacking the cancer cells.

These include:

  • Triggering the immune system to attack the unwanted cells
  • Blocking the signals that tell the cancer cells to divide
  • Blocking the molecules that prevent the immune system from working
  • Carrying radiation or cancer drugs to the cancer cells.

HER2 is a type of HER that can play a role in the development of breast cancer.

The task of an HER receptor is to transmit molecular signals to the insides of cells from the surface. These signals switch genes on and off.

In breast cancers, the HER2 receptor is faulty. Its “on” switch never goes to “off,” so the breast cells reproduce uncontrollably, and breast cancer results.

Herceptin sticks to the HER2 protein, and it prevents the epidermal growth factor from getting into the cancer cells.

In this way, Herceptin stops the breast cancer cells from reproducing uncontrollably.

Who can use it?

Patients should only take Herceptin if they have overexpression of HER2. It does not benefit patients without overexpression of the HER2 protein.

Around 20 percent of women with breast cancer have Herceptin-sensitive tumors.

Tests can determine whether a patient has too much HER2.

How is it taken?

Herceptin is normally given as an infusion, intravenously. Sometimes it is administered by subcutaneous injection, which is an injection under the skin. It is normally given at intervals of between 1 and 3 weeks.

Currently, patients with early stage breast cancer are treated with Herceptin for one year. Studies have shown that treatment over one year is more beneficial than treatment over 6 months. Extending treatment beyond one year does not appear to add any benefit.

Care for metastatic patients may combine therapies, using pertuzumab, trastuzumab, and paclitaxel together.

For patients with metastatic cancer, it will be used until it is no longer effectively controlling the cancer.

Adverse effects

Herceptin is known to be cardiotoxic, which means that it can damage the heart. In rare cases, it can damage heart cells, and it can lead to congestive heart failure (CHF).

Because of this, patients usually need to be assessed for heart function before they can use this drug. Additionally, they will need to have their heart function assessed throughout their treatment. Patients with a pre-existing heart condition should not take Herceptin.

Cardiac damage is the most serious potential side effect. However, recent studies show that most women will recover after stopping the drug, and that long term effects are unlikely.

Another potentially serious side effect is lung problems. Rarely, a patient experiences severe shortness of breath or fluid on the lungs, among other symptoms. If lung problems occur, the patient should contact their physician.

A low white blood cell count has also been reported among patients taking Herceptin, and this can be life-threatening. The doctor may check the white blood cell count of patients who are receiving this drug.

Flu-like symptoms appear in about 40 percent of women who use Herceptin , but these are reported to be less severe after the first dose.

Possible side effects of Herceptin include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart problems
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Aches and pains.

In rare cases, a patient may develop an allergic reaction and experience breathlessness, itching, and a rash.

However, Herceptin is generally well tolerated. Most patients do not experience significant side effects, and most of the adverse effects can be relieved by medication.

The End of Free Speech

Well Markie Zuckerberg spoke in front of the mindless and clueless politicians we call Senators and it was a completely joke folks.  First of all Markie insisted that they only “filter hate speech” … so what is Hate Speech.  For Markie it is any comment or view outside or different from the way he thinks according to the actual results of what Facebook is actually doing.  A good example is I wrote piece the day before MZ was to appear before the Senate.  It thanked MK for proving me right, ONCE again.  He proved me correct because what he is doing is actually illegal censorship.  When you block or remove speech, comments etc that differ from another option is the same as blocking hateful verbiage using slang to shine hate on a people or a race.  They removed my comment in less than 5 minutes.  Folks that is pure censorship and that is illegal.  Technically, no one can filter any speech in this country.  There are some comments that are illegal, like threatening the government or the President directly… WAIT… I guess that is yet another law that has been revoked since 18 people since the election have threatened the President and not a damn thing has been done.  If that was Obama being threatened the police would be out in force.

So Tex, what is your fucking point you are asking yourself?  Well let me tell you.  In our country we have the right of free speech period.  Since Sal Alinsky’s motives have been in the Liberal progressive agenda (since the 60’s) censorship from the left is the norm.  Block any speech or communication that contradicts or exposes the left’s agenda (the 8 rules of radical take over – READ THEM).  This is exactly what Facebook is doing.  They are prohibiting free speech, and also trying to get our guns at the same time.

Folks I urge everyone to get involved more in this government.  Join your local “Convention of States” (https://conventionofstates.com/) As it is written in the constitution this is a group of states that are formed to take control of a tyrannical government that has abused their powers as our government.  The Liberal progressive agenda is being thrown in your face daily from the news, propaganda that they are only allowing to be seen on the internet (they are even censoring google and other search engines to block out conservative websites).  Act now Americans.  If the liberal progressives socialist agenda gets back in power this country will be lost forever.  We have a chance to correct that today.  So please care.

Religion and Politics

What strikes me is how in our own government we are taught at an early age that there is a separation of Church and state… but that does not apply in the US folks.  We have two factions… the Republicans with the strong Christian viewpoint mostly on their side, and the Democrats with the mostly atheist base groups (as well as some religions but not as a whole per say).  One side is so stout about gay marriage and abortion that they even try to quote the bible to prove their view points. Here is my concern to that.  Folks…. there are over 2900 version of the book we call the bible.  It is not the true word of God after it has been manipulated and reproduced to include and remove items from it to appeal to any new religion that pops up.  History also shows that the bible is not the real word of the Lord since it was created 300 years AFTER the death of Christ and the disciples.  The Council of Nice was put together to create what we call the bible.  However, let’s not forget that several gospels from Jesus and key disciples where not selected to be in that book.  Why is that?  Simple the bible was put together by pagans and new age Christians who wanted peace and see that there was some type of order of ethics in an age of disorder.  Since that time the bible has been modified over and over again to meet the needs or desires of the people in charge back in those years. The opposition to Gay Marriage was added, abortion was added, and things like baptism at birth, the only key scripture from Jesus himself, was removed in some religion’s bible (NIV mainly). So with all these changes to a simple book, who actually knows what God wants or is displeased with… I will tell you… Simple research on the history of religion will explain that… I would HIGHLY suggest that be done to understand what God really wants.  One of the key things is not to judge someone on earth.  Saying a gay person will burn in hell is a great example of that.  Gay lifestyles are as old as dirt… even before Christ days on earth.  It would not have existed if God had an issue from what I understand. So with the religious chat behind us here is the point of this rant/blog.  STOP Pushing laws for ethical or morality… period!  Why, simple we spend billions of tax dollars on Gay issues and abortion and other moral based topics… all for nothing.  How about this… we only concern ourselves with the ACTUAL issues of the nation, poor economy based on jobs going to other countries because the US taxes big business too high, getting rid of the unions… they are useless these days, strengthening the borders, fixing our foreign policy that were destroyed since 2008 and moving to a flat 10% tax across the board (should be eye opening to most that the Democrats are the ones who hate this proposed solution… why… because they are hiding the most $$$ they steal I bet).  Leave morality to God.  If gay marriage is a sin, then let God deal with it… it is not a reverend from a fake protest church in the bible belt to condemn someone.  Morality is something for an individual to deal with in the eyes of the Lord… not ours. Once we stop with the morality fights, we can actual get some things done right I hope… so let Gay’s Marry… they are not harming you… If a woman wants an abortion provide her a safe place to do so… it is just that simple folks… study the history of religion and get the real message of God… see that there are 1000s of scrolls that were not in the bible that were from the actual people who mannered… you can either look them up or take a trip to the Vatican to see if you can get in their library where they all reside.  But either way we need to stop bitching about religion in politics and get the actual problems solved.

The US and it’s failing government

Well, as an American it is hard to write this blog post, but I have to get this off my chest.  First of all since 2008, our nation has been failing miserably at just about everything… from economy to foreign policies.  Now is this all Obama’s failure… NO.  It is spread out to all the Senators and Congressmen who have aided in the conspiracy to ruin this great nation.  What good as come since 2008?  Seriously?  The lies about the economy being stable in the last State of the Union is a farce and middle class America knows it!  They even had a fake there as an example of how well the economy is doing… but she works for the Democratic party… and is doing very well I might add.  Our socialized programs at Obama demanded and got passed EVEN THOUGH the violated the constitution of the United States… they pushed them through… like ObamaCare.  It is also a complete failure.  Expensive, doctor reluctant to work with it since they are NOT getting paid, and several clauses that prohibit health care for the elderly is all just scratching the surface of that mess.  Our Foreign policy is a joke as well.  Obama constantly snubs the Prime Minister from Israel, a STRONG ally in the world for BS reasons?  Then they do nothing in the Ukraine, Middle East and he even snubbed France after their attacks.  But for all these failures in the Obama administration, Congress and Senate what do we constantly hear now (in 2008-2010 all we heard was “It’s George Bush’s fault”), is that the reason for failure is because America is racist and we all hate Obama because he is black.  Seriously… is that what we get?  How about the truth… He has NO real experience leading no exercise in decision making or no real experience in Foreign policy… he was elected solely because he came off as a great speaker, and seems to have the “juice” American was needing.  The problem is again perception.  He was and is a HUGE failure solely because of his lack of experience and knowledge of things inside, around and outside the US.  He has an agenda, one that is severely flawed and never had a chance of being beneficial to the US… just an agenda he wanted… and the fools of the same party and the lack of backbone Republicans backed him.  Finally if we all hate Obama because he is black… then why wasn’t he impeached after his first 6 scandals and failures?  Solely because of he is Black… he was not impeached because that would come off as a racist action and everyone knew it.  So instead of trying to restore order fast and get someone in the white house who would truly lead this nation out of the crap we are in now, we still have the socialist activist that has an agenda to get done.

What is funny is now with a mostly Republican house and senate I see nothing getting done still.  Why you ask?  Simple.  If the two parts of the government vote to have things like the Keystone pipeline, abolish ObamaCare and work on a real immigration plan, Obama will still veto the actions… thus again showing that President Obama is not here for the US people.. .he is not helping the middle class or the minorities… he has an agenda and dammit it will be done.  But let’s remember this everyone… the economy is still in the crapper, we have still the largest unemployment number ever (the treading they show is for new government jobs that require taxation to pay for them), ObamaCare is not working, our foreign relations are dying…started for the failures of Hillary and are being followed up by the failures of Kerry, to our lack of border control.  We are worse than we have ever been since Jimmy Carter… folks it is time to stop listening to the media and research everything… and start to stand up for your rights as a citizen and get rid of the trash that is ruining our nation… they are in the Congress, Senate and the White House… We the People vote them in… and we can remove them legally too… so do what is right and start to get the word out that we are not upset that our president is black.. we are upset because he is a moron and has no interest in fixing our nation… only making it worse… as he has proven.

Welcome One and All!

Well this is the first post on the Wilson Zone Blog.  I have to say that this will be an adventure for me since I have never dabbled in the world of blogs, but I hope this will be an informative and fun ride.  This is a site that is family oriented so please refrain from typing in bad language if all possible…. but I know (like myself) some topics can get heated and tempers arise… but please try to do the anger without the bad words… if all possible.  Look for some initial topics coming up soon…  Until then, enjoy the space.

You got a Complaint, Issue or a bug up the backside… Topic or need to be heard… drop it here… however watch your language… we have kids you know.