Tuesday, May 26, 2009

3 words:

willy, wonka, and intercostalitis.

those are my excuses for being such a lame blogger lately. oh, and a lame friend, housekeeper, employee, gardener, cook, phone-call-returner, and .... pretty much everything else.

willy wonka
this last weekend was opening weekend for the christian youth theater musical that i'm accompanying. oh, the stories i could tell! it has been so much fun, and i highly encourage you to get tickets to see us this weekend! ;)

another pearl on my string of odd and unpleasant ailments, intercostalitis is what can happen if you get a really bad chest cold/cough when you're super stressed out, don't have time to sleep, and your fluid intake consists mostly of soy mochas (interspersed with straight coffee for variety). add a little bit of luck to that recipe, and the muscle and cartilage inside your ribcage will become inflamed and tender, which is about as awesome as it sounds. i'm still figuring out how to heal from this (today's experiment of "healing by going to work and sending out a churchwide mailing" has failed) ... so until i'm on the upswing, i'll probably be a little scarce in these parts.

happy blogging to ye!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

fighting genetic capitalism with the aclu...

read the blog before freaking out at the title, please ... ;)

last week i shared with y'all about my brca1 genetic mutation, which puts me at very high risk for breast and other cancers.

to be considered for brca testing, you usually must exhibit several risk factors, since the large minority of cancers are related to gene problems. in my case, my mother and grandfather had already tested positive for the gene, and i had a very strong family history of breast cancer.

if your family history is deemed suspicious enough by the big cancer kahunas, then you begin the joy of the BRACAnalysis test through myriad genetics lab in utah.

myriad is the only lab in the world that tests for the brca1 and brca2 genetic mutations. why? they patented those genes. yup, a gene that runs through my body, my mother's body, my grandfather and aunt and thousands of others, has been patented by a company that charges $3000 per (teeny little pin prick) blood test. may or may not be covered by insurance.

gene patenting is not new - living things weren't patentable before 1980, but that year a landmark 5-4 supreme court decision regarding genetically engineered bacteria started a spiral of gene patenting. there are definite positives: gene patenting encourages the sharing of information, reduces duplicated research, and encourages funding. however, the negatives include allowing private companies to monopolize testing (charging exorbitant amounts and taking months to send results), and the fact that, when it comes down to it, humans are patenting other humans.

this morning, i was delighted to read the following headline/article:

the american civil liberties union is "arguing that patenting pure genes is unconstitutional and hinders research for a cancer cure," and i couldn't agree more.

i understand that the issues surrounding gene patenting are complex, that there is no easy answer. but i can't support a system that allows companies to patent parts of people, then make it difficult for those people to access information about themselves! i am not a political person; i do not agree with aclu in all (ok, most) things. but there is only one being i know who holds a legitimate patent on the human body, and He is not employed by myriad genetics.

for more info on gene patenting, click here

Monday, May 11, 2009

at least the calcium's healthy, right?

seen at the gresham station subway:
a small girl of 7 or 8, eating a 6in sub.
contents of sandwich: cheddar cheese
bread: italian herbs and cheese
side dish: cheetos

Thursday, May 7, 2009

genetic mutant ninja me

i can't count the number of times i wrote a first sentence to this post, deleted it, wrote a different one, deleted it, then walked away from my web browser.

how do i begin the most self-revelatory blog post i have ever written?
how do i, all at once, share with the entire electronic world a secret that only a few friends have known?

my secret isn't sensational tabloid material: i'm not secretly popping vicodin, i'm not actually a guy, i don't need a bailout, and i'm definitely not getting adopted by angelina jolie. nothing like that.

my secret is ... i might get cancer.
there. i wrote it. lame secret, huh?

actually, my secret is that i am a genetic mutant. probably just like you.
someday, maybe, scientists will understand the entire makeup of our dna, the purpose of every gene, the secrets locked in every chromosome. that day, i think they will find that every person has wayward wiring and errant genes ... adam and eve fell and we've been genetically tumbling ever since. my opinion aside, despite the scientific advancements of the tech age, it's still rare to be diagnosed with a genetic mutation. i'm 1 in 800.

my mutation, brca1 (along with its associate, brca2), is a poster child for cancer-causing genetic mutations. why? most discovered mutations cause a slight to moderate increased risk for cancer. in contrast, brca1 carries up to 44% risk of ovarian cancer, 2-3 fold increased risk of melanoma, possible increased risk of pancreatic cancer, increased risk of prostate cancer, and (the zinger) a whopping possible 87% risk of breast cancer.
that's 9 in 10.

... as in strangle-me-with-your-powder-pink-ribbons-nine-in-freaking-ten.

so ... what's a girl to do?
this girl has had some time to think, (i was diagnosed last summer), to talk to some "experts" (another blog, another time), to get used to the idea ...
but, you know, it's kind of hard to get used to something that hasn't happened ... to make peace with a hypothetical ... to accept something that resists acceptance for the simple reason that it doesn't exist - yet.

i'm not saying peace is impossible; in fact, i know that, though elusive, it's not impossible.
how do i know?
because "neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation [... even genetic mutations], will be able to separate us from the love of god that is in christ jesus our lord." (romans 8:38-39)

so i'm in the process of making peace with genetic mutant me. and who knows - maybe i'll get superpowers out of the deal!

“be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is god's will for you in christ jesus.” (1 thessalonians 5:16-18)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

yo amo cinco de mayo!

i love cinco de mayo.
for the second year in a row, i celebrated in authentic style - food, music, language, the works ... minus the tequila.

gcc's hispanic sister church, comunidad cristiana, partners with a church planting ministry called hispanics for christ every year for a ministry update/fundraiser/feast/concert/party/cinco de mayo fiesta! the music is led by cecilio, tim, and a group from comunidad, plus a certain flute player who gets to join in on the fun. ;)

playing with this group is as different from my orchestra, choir, and evangelical worship band experience as ... water and tequila!

first, there is the not-so-minor detail that all conversation and direction is in spanish. some of the group members (and leaders) don't speak english.
my spanish consists of two phrases:
yo amo esta canciĆ³n! (i love this song!)
yo amo este pollo! (i love this chicken!)*

one of these is more useful than the other.

next, there is the not-so-minor detail that all the songs are in spanish. and they sing them really fast, and don't pronounce all the letters. i encourage you to try to follow a handwritten chord chart for a song in a foreign language - it's harder than it sounds.

third, these songs are not 3 chord wonders. run and hide, chris tomlin. the styles range from cuban to afro-peruvian, from the coasts of south america to the andes mountains. tricky rhythms, non-intuitive chord progressions, complicated instrumentation .... it's a beautiful thing to my challenge-deprived musical soul.

... and even more beautiful, is coming together with people i can't even share words with and laughing together over goofy musical mishaps, concentrating together at attempts to communicate, smiling knowingly together when we meet the same musical wavelength, praying together to our god who understands every language and culture, and worshipping together as we will for eternity.

happy cinco de mayo!

*and any other obvious derivatives (e.g. yo amo tequila! yo amo switzerland! etc.).