Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

WWHD

That is the acronym imprinted on the aqua-colored bracelet, a memento which I, along with a number of others, picked up yesterday at the registration table for the Never Give Up Hope 10K held at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, MD. The letters represent “What Would Hope Do?” This woman possessed the fiercest tenacity, the most vociferous outrage, the warmest affection, and a marvelous sense of humor. As a follow-up to Kevin’s post, here are a few photos and accompanying commentary.

At the registration table, we find a portrait of Hope and the basket containing the bracelets.

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Caught here at the ready, in a pose of characteristic gesticulation, is Kevin (black gloves, white singlet) chatting with Dave, the young fellow with the shades and tattoo on his upper left arm. Dave finished in fourth place, and is a pretty swift guy. He’s also rational, cynical, and funny as hell which gives me hope for the next generation.

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If he’s so inclined, Kevin can add his time to 8 significant figures here (not that he is anal retentive or anything about his racing data), but i’ll just note that he was the 1st place guy and overall winner. See…he’s so fast that the photo is blurred. Alternatively, this photo may just have been expanded from Beck as a speck.

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Among the one hundred runners was a surprise guest, and one who I can’t help but think Hope would have been thrilled to have running in her race. Her back is turned to the camera (a superb photographer I am not), but the woman with the long dark hair and the black and yellow attire who is chatting with Kevin and Dave (left) is Patti Catalano Dillon. Patti burned up the roads in the 70’s and 80’s, and hers is likewise a story of determination. Her presence at Hope’s race was fitting.

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Hope inspired many runners, and certainly, even as a fat old hobbyjogger, I admired her dedicated push toward athletic accomplishment. But more than that, Hope was, and continues to be, my muse. She placed a laughing, raging, insightful human face onto my abstract scientific pursuits of cancer targets. We would laugh and cry during lengthy phone conversations about her chemotherapy and how she felt about the disease. Hope’s breast cancer was of the Her2/neu (ErbB-2) positive type, that is, the ErbB2 receptor tyrosine kinase’s expression becomes dysregulated and feeds aggressively into cell proliferation and angiogenesis. Hope’s oncologist treated her with state-of-the-art medications, including Herceptin, a monoclonal antibody, which targets the ErbB-2 kinase. It’s one thing to think about the ErbB-2’s enzymology, how its regulation goes awry, and how its constituitive activity sets in motion the spread of the cancer. It’s another when your friend is describing her treatments, her worry that potential adverse cardiovascular effects will cut into her cherished time on the treadmill, and the looming question: will it work?

Many people at the race will wear that bracelet, and eck out more miles in their pursuit of faster race times or just plain fitness. Indeed, I will wear it for the latter, and I am assured that Hope would soundly kick my jiggling ass for allowing it to become so out-of-shape. I will also wear it to remind myself that I am engaged in discovery research not only for the gee-whiz-ain’t-this-interesting factor, but also to find more effective (and hopefully not astronomically priced) cancer treatments.

Thanks to Hope’s family and friends for organizing this event, and here’s a big hat tip to Hope herself. May her memory continue to inspire us in myriad ways.

Comments

  1. #1 Keith
    October 30, 2006

    Thanks for posting these, Dr. J. Really sorry to miss this.

  2. #2 Suesquatch
    October 30, 2006

    She got me off’n my middle-aged lard ass today.

    Kudos to Liz and Matei and the rest of the whole famn damily for pulling of such a well organized, USATF certifed, beautiful event. Hope would have been proud and tickled.

  3. #3 Mouth of the Yellow River
    October 30, 2006

    Ni Hao! Kannichi Wa!

    Thank you for this, when I hear the personal stories of this cancer beast and those of the AIDS beast, “my eyes are filled with tears, my lips are dry” (Dylan, Ain’t Talkin’, Modern Times, #10 at bottom), it solidifies my resistance against the gigantic and seemingly endless waste of resources and human talent down the wrong road of mindless single target data generation at the expense of new ideas and innovation that is so desperately needed.

    Hope’s problem can only be stopped by getting at the birth of the beast, anti-ErbB-2 and a thousand other single targets (other than that ever-shifting cocktail of fearful, toxic medications), are way too late, cut one off and like a Hydra up pops another. And a cocktail of two, three, tens, hundreds will do no better except in a very special case and then only temporary.

    See examples of my recent missives Sequencing in Wonderland Ad Infinitum and here (toward bottom).

    For the sake of Hope, can you help stop the bleeding.

    Those of us on the inside can only do so much to reform the disaster, who likes “cutting our own throat.”

    MOTYR

  4. #4 DK
    November 3, 2006

    It’s nice to see that Hope lives on in us.

  5. #5 Mike Warden
    December 18, 2006

    Hope was my cousin and when I was little her and Liz used to write me letters from George Jetson telling me to take my eye drops when I had a eye surgery operation when I was like 3 or 4 years old. I also remember when they would stay with us visiting that they would go running in the morning. It’s really nice what they did with the race to share parts of her life with other people. I did not see her in several years way before she got sick. You most likely didn’t know as well but she was like one of the top mathemeticians (sp) in the country at one time.

  6. #6 Doc Bushwell
    December 18, 2006

    Mike, thanks so much for dropping by the Refuge and posting. Your cousin was quite a remarkable woman, and writing letters as “George Jetson” is a riot! I’m not at all surprised that she was at the top of her field. She was an incredibly intelligent person.

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