Dedicated to the women of La La Land, a “Beauty Room” in Madison, New Jersey
Journalists are followers: they follow leads. Those who we often think of as leaders are often follower too: they follow polls, trends, opinions, statistics. True leaders are a rare breed: they pay for it by spending a great deal of time alone asking themselves, “Am I on the right path, a path that others might want to follow?”
Some leaders are actually walking around disguised as average citizens. They don’t have big titles, fancy degrees, or certificates from prestigious institutions hanging on the wall. But make no mistake, they are leaders. The women of La La Land come immediately to mind. They’ve taken the lead along with Bea Henderson of “San Francisco” in spreading the word about the breast cancer virus.
There are others too, women I haven’t ever met but who are undaunted by the task of moving out in front of something new and worthy – newsworthy, that is. Len Soriano comes immediately to mind. She’s a breast cancer survivor who really had no choice but to go “all in” when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the email I received from her yesterday, reprinted with her permission.
“Good evening Kathleen, Thanks for your kind email. How delightful to be able to talk to a breast surgeon and author! I have started reading your amazing book and it is very interesting indeed. I’m also from the Philippines so your first chapter brought back a lot of memories from the not so distant past. Also Stage IIIC, the only difference was that I had 6 months of neoadjuvant chemo to what was originally thought as States IIB IDC [invasive ductal carcinoma], ER/Pr+, but I did not respond to the chemo well and ended up with a bigger tumor (3 cm became 4 cm), and multifocal and extensive lymphovascular invasion, 15/21 lymph nodes all with extra capsular extension. Needless to say, I was devastated with the outcome of the neoadjuvant chemo and found it hard not to think about the high probability of recurrence with the sad result. I am curious about the breast cancer virus and what it means to someone in remission like me. Warm regards, Len”
I wrote back to Len and explained that completing the research on the breast cancer virus means that once we have final proof that it causes breast cancer (in conjunction with other factors like the presence of favorable genes and co-carcinogens like estrogen), we can then move forward to develop a vaccine that is capable of preventing breast cancer and one that might be used therapeutically, in addition to antiviral therapy, to prevent recurrences in women who’ve already been diagnosed with the disease.
Leaders are aren’t always found ‘a the top’ of the social strata. Often they are peppered throughout the crowd, inconspicuously moving civilization forward, in the direction where it ought to go. I’m all for precision medicine: I wish we had something more precise to offer Len right now, and others like her. But let the record show, I’m passionately in favor of precision prevention. Fund the virus. Build the vaccine. Pray that some journalist who is a follower is brave enough to take the lead on this story. The sooner the better.