What did one man call 'the emperor of all maladies, the king of our terrors'? Another the 'most relentless and insidious enemy' - the 'quintessential disease of pathological hyperplasia?' Still further: 'An implacable, shape shifting foe... the greatest scourge that has ever assailed the human race!'
Quote: What first was seed, becomes grass, then an ear, then bread, chyle,
blood, semen, embryo, man, a corpse: then again earth, stone, or some other
mass, and so forth.Here we perceive something which changes in all these things,
and ever remains the same.. Matter, considered absolutely, comprises all forms
and dimensions. But the variety of forms which it assumes is not received from
without, but is produced and engendered from within. - Giordano Bruno 1500s
What was the thing that finally extinguished 'the fire of life' from Napolean - that ended the existence of that King of kings, who could conquer Nations and create Empires, yet could not, in the end, conquer this?
In 50 BC a Persian queen, ravaged, heartbroken, and destitute, grabbed her favorite slave, handed him a knife and said 'begin cutting'. She exposed her breast, and the slave commenced.
The queen had the slave ‘extricate’ (literally cut) a cancerous tumor, a bump on the woman's chest, from her bosom, and today, some 2,000 years later, this method - 'the cold knife' is still the most affective cancer treatment. (The other, often done after the cutting, just to prevent any chance that some rogue cancer cell escaped to other distant parts of the body, is to shoot radioactive particles at the person in a cold chamber. They lose their hair, but during the process they get to listen to music.)
'Cells possessed with an autonomous will to divide' . This is how one definitive medicinal dictionary terms it. Another describes it as “cells refusing to commit cell suicide”. In order to understand the illness one must first one confront a mystifying truism – you and I, what we think of as a whole, complete selves, are really the assimilation of 9 trillion entities. They’re cells, which once started just as one long ago in the womb of our mothers. Ever since the ‘chosen first one’, “we’ve” been replicating geometrically ever since. Another worthy mention is that shortly before we begot arms and legs, toes and forefinger – we had gills. (Though just for a little while). Also prominent, a tail stub (hence ‘the tailbone’) – but programmed destruction of this rudimentary feature happened shortly thereafter, and now our bodies adorn appearances more suitable. These two things are examples of how, without destroying, and alternatively ‘begotting’ new cells, there would be no development, no healing, no mystifying property of ‘life’ – this is why life isn’t inert. The veil shown to us from Cancer is that without ‘all cells agreeing’ to work as a whole in the environment we call the body[cells agreeing to kill themselves at designated times without shooting out their innards], the whole ‘body ecosystem’ will collapse, one part necessary to ‘give life’ to another will falter, and from there the jenga blocks fall.
The disease, or pest, you can think of it, is one rogue out of the trillion, (through whatever the initial mechanism) refusing to sacrifice himself for the others. 'Why ought I', says the cell, 'lay down and split, make a copy and end my life'? 'Who are you, dear ones, to require me to kill myself?' 'I will learn to get my own food, I will create my own blood vessels (angiogenesis), move to my own territories (metastasis), do all I need to do, as Emerson said, to 'never imitate. Live in my own fashion' .
The fun begins when you consider the implications. The distant past shows themes of cooperation:
Genes joined to form genomes, prokaryotic cells incorporated protobacteria asThis means, in our distance past, one ‘original’ might’ve been immortal – never dividing, always living – a fountain of youth by natural disposition! Who are we to tell them to die, to 'lay down their lives' for some distant offspring! Could it not be, that through some 'unfortunate mutation' , some would 'split', giving the 'elder forebearer' death, and the young one life! who would've thought - death, our notion of life and its counterpart, are really just the forced consequences of the extinguishment of the 'immortal propensity'. Death evolved, aging evolved. One mutation to a common pathway can double the lifespan of a species, and it all relates to the mechanisms of cell death, and why things die in the first place. Scary to think that the unveiling of a mystery which has plagued hundreds of millions up until now, in our current age and epoch, might reveal clues to those seeking an answer to another - the end of aging.
mitochondria to become eukaryotic cells, single-celled organisms joined together
to become multicellular organisms, multicellular organisms became eusocial
societies, and multicellular species joined with either unicellular species or
other multicellular species to become interspecific mutualisms 1