2nd December 2008

Good health is vital to us all - indeed, it was the primary reason for our moving to a country where the health care is one of the best in the world. But, there is one affliction that looms larger than all others, and about which we all seem to fear more than anything else. Yes, it's that dreaded word: cancer. Every so often, hope is stimulated when reading about the latest advances in curing the disease, only to fall again when nothing obvious is happening. However, I was particularly interested to hear that the French PM, Francois Fillon, has just unveiled the world's most powerful cancer weapon: the Arronax cyclotron (named after the Jules Verne professor in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea). How the machine differs from smaller machines already in existence is that it can make much larger quantities of injectable substances which target cancerous areas directly, rather than the alternative chemotherapy, which is not targeted and doctors just proscribe and hope it works. In the past, typically a doctor would remove the tumour, if at all possible, and hope that the person gets better, but often the cancer would persist in the body, ready to fire up again. This new radioactive medicine would kill for ever those micro-tumours lurking in the body.
Having lost a brother earlier this year, plus a mother, grandmother, aunt and grandfather decades ago - all through cancer - I fervently hope that this new machine can do what all other measures have so far failed to do: stop the big C time-bomb. Of course, what I really hope and wish for is for someone to discover the fuse that lights the bomb in the first place. Now, if Jean-Francois Chatal, the professor of nuclear medicine who developed the Arronax, and the rest of the Nantes research team could only come up with that.....

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