Monday, July 26, 2004

Playing the hand you've been dealt - the story of a cancer experimentalist

The New York Times > National > Heeding a Call to Test Breast Cancer Treatments
My father used to say, 'You play the hand you've been dealt,' ' Sister Mary Andrew said. 'I would like to have lived longer, worked longer. I'd like to still be president of the university. But it's not the hand I've been dealt'

This is an excellent NYT article about experimental therapies. It's not the usual tabloid "miracle cure" story -- it's the story of a brave, curious, and wise woman (an academic and a catholic nun) who chose to join clinical trials primarily as a way to make her death meaningful. Some of them may have helped her, some probably hurt. She may no longer be a candidate for further experiments; she seems a bit wistful about that.

One could do much worse than a family motto of "You play the hand you've been dealt." It covers a lot of ground. One may argue that changing the game or cheating are alternative options, but I think that reflects a misunderstanding of the game. As was once said of thermodynamics, "you can't win, you can't break even, and you can't quit the game". In life one doesn't change the game, but one may realize that the rules are less restrictive than commonly thought.

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