I will start with a literary art piece that I have written as part of the personal statement for our cancer – art project. This non fiction named “Cancer” was one of the winners in the “creative non fiction” category of literary art competition organized by the Business council of art of North Texas. It addresses a part of my emotional response to cancer. Later I did two mixed media pieces on this.
My NYC dream is getting delayed from turning into a reality. After a lot of time, not writing anything, I thought why don’t I make my little NYC in Dallas itself? I have made some reasonable contacts in art – science collaboration field, read a lot of sci-artists’ biography, am involved in a cancer – art collaboration project. I can write about them. I can create a small part of my NYC dream with them anywhere.
“With the light in my eyes,
I have seen beyond my sight,
Today I shall see into my heart,
In the absence of that light”
– An attempt to translate from Rabindranath Tagore
Beyond my sight
I have seen cancer as I walk to my lab, in patients waiting in the radiation therapy wing, wrapping their bald heads in pieces of cloth and wrapping their hands around their loved ones. I have seen cancer as I look under the microscope, at the cell lines derived from the patients, to aid research for personalized therapy. I have seen cancer as a complex disease, a combination of multiple diseases, where the healthy cells from our own body turn into our enemy. How do we fight an enemy who is our own?
Light in my eyes
It takes courage to devote your life to fight an unknown, complex problem. My courage is my best friend, my supporter, my mother. I learnt from her – a problem is not worth your whole life’s attention, unless it seems larger than you. Five years back, full of hope and excitement of learning and conquering a complex problem, I have approached cancer. I learnt the ten distinct biological properties, hallmarks of cancer, shared by all types of cancer in varying degree. I further learnt there could be variability within and among cancer cells for each of these properties.
Absence of light
Next came the darkness, crushing all the excitement of learning complex problems, flying me thousands of miles away from my lab, my research, standing me by the bedside of my mother dying of brain cancer. Then she was gone, leaving a bit of her in me, and, a vacant, empty space in my mind. I did not let grief take that empty space as the pain was unbearable. I realized it was up to me to fill up that space with what I want. My profession became personal to me and I started rethinking about cancer.
See into my heart
Today I see cancer as manifestation of life itself, trying to survive a stressful condition, inside the body’s harsh environment. Is there a way to reeducate these cancer cells, so that they understand the host body would be unable to contain them and they would eventually cease to exist? The key may be hidden in the multidimensional complex experimental data. We are unable to find it now, as we see what we know we see. Visualizing the data represented in a different media may help us. Hopefully, this alternative way of “seeing” will guide me towards “how to see” in the empty space between God and Adam’s fingers.