Monday, May 19, 2008

I am in the Newspaper!

I got my picture taken for the newspaper last week, and the story ran today. I think this is really cool. If you want an idea of what I spend some of my time at work doing this is it.

If you want to see it on the Gainesville Sun site, click here.

New hope for fighting cancer

Published: Monday, May 19, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 11:48 p.m.
Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

Molly Strickland, a biological scientist with the University of Florida Department of Urology, demonstrates the process of working with cell culture media in the Urology Cancer Immunotherapy Lab at the UF Cancer and Genetics Institute where vaccines are created by a patient's own stem cells to fight prostate cancer.

Clinical trials
  • A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment are safe and effective.
  • Treatment trials test new treatments, such as a new cancer drug, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, new combinations of treatments, or new methods such as gene therapy.
  • Quality of life trials (also called supportive care trials) explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for cancer patients.
  • A number of cancer trials currently are being conducted through the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center.
  • For information, please call the Florida Cancer Trials matching site at 800-584-9976, or visit the Florida Cancer Trials matching site to find clinical trials being conducted in your area.

  • - National Cancer Institute, Shands Cancer Center

You might describe Dr. Jorge Galante as the ultimate educated medical consumer.

The 73-year-old orthopedic surgeon has been dealing with prostate cancer for a decade. After two years of conventional treatment, including surgery and radiation, his cancer recurred.

The Chicago resident went searching for an alternative to undergoing more of the same treatment.

His search brought him to a clinical trial involving immunotherapy now under way at Shands at the University of Florida, under the direction of Dr. Johannes Vieweg, professor and chairman of the department of urology.

Galante flies to Florida once a week to receive an injection of an experimental vaccine that enlists his body's own cells in the battle against cancer.

Every year, 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that Florida will rank behind only California and Texas in the number of new cases diagnosed this year.

Vieweg brought his studies of the potential prostate cancer vaccine with him from Duke University when he joined the UF College of Medicine faculty in 2006.

He says the customized therapy overcomes many of the obstacles and side effects of other forms of cancer treatment because it uses the patient's own cells.

Blood is drawn from the patient and the dendritic cells are isolated from the white blood cells. They are then genetically manipulated to detect the antigens that mark tumor cells before being reinjected into the patient.

Antigens are protein fragments produced by invaders such as viruses or bacteria that trigger an attack by the immune system. Vieweg characterizes them as "a red flag" at the surface of tumor cells.

The antigen telomerase is overexpressed in prostate cancer and other human cancers, Vieweg explained.

Dendritic cells activate the immune system by capturing the antigen - in this case, telomerase - and presenting it to the body's killer cells, called T cells.

The custom-made vaccine is prepared in a $4 million "clean room" in the UF Cancer and Genetics Research Building. It's not a vaccine in the traditional sense. A patient can't get a shot or two and prevent cancer. But it does enlist the body's immune system to battle against cancerous cells.

"We have something unique here," Vieweg said.

Because the dendritic cells can be programmed to seek out tumor cells with pinpoint accuracy, they can combat cancer without causing further harm to the body, unlike radiation or chemotherapy.

Could be widely used

The strategy being tested in the current clinical trial is not limited to prostate or kidney cancer, but is potentially applicable to all cancers, in Vieweg's view.

"We just haven't done the studies to determine which forms of cancer respond best to this therapy," the researcher said. "I'd have to say we're almost there."

"Almost there" is close enough for Galante.

As part of the clinical trial, Galante is helping to prove that the vaccine is safe and effective for use by others.

But for him, the immediate benefit is that he is able to lead a normal life.

"I have a wife, children and four grandchildren whom I want to see grow up," Galante said. "I have been waiting for this vaccine to come on line."

Diane Chun can be reached at 352-374-5041 or

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Prayer Request - JOBS!

Well I am breaking out the prayer request again. I normally don't write much about my job, and with good reasons. I deal with some really confidential stuff and the rest of my job is fairly boring to most people and those that it isn't to boring makes them want to pull out their hair with me in frustration when things don't work.

Well there have been circulating rumors that three of the four positions in our group are being closed. Mine is supposed to be one of them. I am not panicking like I should be because I know it is all for the best and that God has a plan for it all. Also, there are some deep undercurrent issues that if you want to know about you will have to talk to me. So I am not to unhappy about all this. The problem is I need some prayer that God will provide another job for me either in the short term until AJ can find a job, or in the long term that will allow us to go ahead and move to Orlando and allow AJ to job hunt down there.

We are just in a state of flux and chaos. Luckily AJ's job has allowed him to start working up to 30 hours, which the plan is to use the extra money to pay off his school loans and such. I have been following I've Paid For This Twice Already advice about snowflaking. So I have been squirreling away small bits of money and extra income for a little while. I also want to thank again the people who have contributed to me being able to snowflake this money. It has given me a sense that financially we are going to be ok and that money is going to be there, just not as much and as freely.

The main thing I am worried about is my health insurance. I have some weird health problems and loosing that coverage is going to stink, but I am not panicking about that really either. I have already started looking into personal health insurance plans and their coverage. They are more expensive, but that is what emergency funds are for, right?

So, again I ask that ya'll be praying for mine and AJ's job situation and that God will just keep us calm and provide the same way He always has.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weight Update

The new weight total is 213.8lb! I am thrilled. I know that I didn't do an official weigh in last week, but I am still happy that I lost almost 4 pounds in 2 weeks. Especially with all the stuff going on in my life. The biggest of which is AJ had his wisdom teeth taken out. That means that I have been home trying to get things ready for that and also being his "nurse".

This being home has made me realize that unless my day has a set schedule I graze all day! When I am at work I am much better about 3 meals and 2 snacks. Being home... I eat almost no real meals and munch all day. This has lead to me going over my points 3 days this week, but luckily I have done some major pint building with exercise and I did bank some points early this week. So all in all I still have a positive point balance and I plan on keeping it that way through today. That means that I can have a little bit of whatever yummy is at Betty's house for Bible Study tonight.

Speaking of Betty... I need to start calling her more often to go walking with. She is a great partner and since the offer is there I need to take her up on it. I need to start making this exercise thing a priority and not just a "oh I have got time during work to do it." Because I am feeling a lot better, well at least as well as possible for me which still makes me very happy.

I am wondering if I can fit into some of my jeans that were getting to tight again. I am still kinda scared to try because I don't want to have a failure in clothing size just yet. If I don't try I can keep it in my head that they are still too small and then when I do try them they will either fit very well or they will be a bit to big. I think I will wait for that and then let people know.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Playing Catch Up - Rapid Edition

Wow! It has been a while since I posted and a lot has been going on, so since I don't have much time a list of all the stuff in no particular order:

  • AJ and I spent the day with AJ's friend from Peru, Dan. He was here in FL for Wycliffe training.
  • AJ bought me flowers. They are beautiful, and I have yet to take pictures of them. They are still in full bloom a week later.
  • We went to see Clue: The Musical. It was a blast. They gave you clue cards and everything. So COOL!
  • We went to a baseball game with Callie. I am convinced AJ and I make the Gators lose baseball games, but Callie can get them to win.
  • AJ officially graduated from UF! With a GPA I would round up to a 3.0, but AJ is a legalist and it is a 2.99 to him.
  • I have been walking a lot lately. A lot equals about 7.5 miles a day. Go Me!
  • AJ is going to be having his wisdom teeth out on Friday. I am slightly nervous, but I know it is all going to be ok.
  • Our new Super Wal-Mart opened today. I am very happy to have another place to buy food. Between them, Save-a-Lot, Publix sales, and coupons I should be able to get our shopping done much cheaper. Also, when all else fails there is still Sam's
  • I have lost about 11 lbs. total. I am not exactly sure what the exact total is since I wasn't home on my weigh in day and the scale I used was off weight wise all weekend. It kept saying that I had gained all the weight back in 24 hours. I don't think so. This means that I won't post an official weight until this Sunday.
  • I got 2 free trial sizes of Clinique Happy today with a coupon.
  • I got a free 8x10 picture from Walgreens with their Mother's Day promotion.
  • We went to Busch Gardens. Their new area Jungala is very cool. I wish I was 10 and it would be awesome.
  • I saved $14.33 at Publix between sales and coupons this week. That made me very happy.
  • I forgot I like playing trivia with Jamey and Scott. We have gone twice in the last two weeks. It is nice since certain people aren't there.
I think that is a pretty god wrap up of what has been going on lately. It has been a very full time.