When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I had this mental image of an invading army of cancer cells, careening around my bloodstream, looking for a new place to set up shop. I thought a lot about stories I’ve done about invasive species. I also kept flashing on an old New Yorker showing a globe with arms and legs, sitting on an exam table with a thermometer in its mouth. The doctor standing nearby says, “You’ve got humans!”
I can’t find that New Yorker cartoon, but apparently the “You’ve got humans!” line has done its own bit of metastasis, finding its way onto YouTubeand into the posts of numerous blogs. It’s even a thread in the new TV show, Terra Nova, about humans setting up shop on a new planet.
Now, this week, comes a scholarly paper that shows how a mathematical model of competition between invasive species can be used to show how prostate cancer cells invade bone.
Turns out that my gut feelings may be actually scientific: I am my body. And my body is an ecosystem. Cool.