Yesterday I received a sample in the lab for processing and imaging. It’s for a paper we are trying to publish, and as part of the peer review process, the referees that have read our paper have asked us to recapitulate some of the results from the lab in human samples. So it was that we received a small portion of human tissue. Where did it come from?
Obviously it’s anonymous and confidential, but I can tell you that it came from a teenage girl who had Ewing sarcoma, a form of cancer. This poor girl had to have an amputation as part of her treatment, and was generous enough to allow us to take some tissue from the removed limb for our experiments. It’s heart-breaking just to type the words and think about it. I have teenage children as will many of you. What an awful, terrible thing to have to go through…..and yet this girl has given us a gift at this time. She has literally put her body on the line to help advance our scientific knowledge and understanding. She will get no direct benefit from it, but every experiment done increases our understanding, brings treatments closer, and makes it more likely that in future some other teenage girl will have her cancer treated WITHOUT having to lose a limb.
Given the incredible way this young person has given us a gift, how can we not give just a tiny fraction of what she has by putting our bodies through a small amount of temporary discomfort over a weekend and/or donating a few pounds to a charity that helps ensure such gifts as hers aren’t wasted?