A fellow animal-rescue friend died early this morning. Lynn had lung cancer that metastasized to her brain. She was a nurse, and a nonsmoker, and didn’t live downwind or downstream from the old Manhattan Project nuclear-waste disposal sites here in St. Louis that apparently have caused a cluster of rare cancers in certain areas that ARE downwind and/or downstream. I used to inspect those sites, so I’ve been trying to help with scientific info on their Facebook pages. What makes the potential radwaste victims unique is the statistically unlikely number of cases of appendix cancer in a small geographic area. Similarly, another radwaste disposal site across the Missouri River coincided with an extremely high incidence of childhood leukemia. Some stuff you can throw away but it never really GOES away…
Sometimes these things pop up out of nowhere. The odd comedian Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer, which also invaded his brain, at age 35, but it was the effect on his kidneys that finally did him in. He wasn’t a smoker either. Warren Zevon, a favorite, and also rather odd, musician, died of pleural mesothelioma, as I’ve discussed on here before, but he never worked around asbestos or ethylene oxide. Go figure.
My old anthropology professor referred to cancer as a “disease of civilization,” i.e., we’ve cured or ameliorated so many common diseases that used to wipe out our forebears at younger ages that we simply are living long enough now to eventually get it in one form or another. Cancer can be caused by all sorts of factors: asbestos, radiation, chemicals, viruses, genetic predisposition or mutations or errors in DNA transcription in cell division, possibly the erosion of telomeres with age, etc.
Then there are chemicals that can cause birth defects (teratogens), and ones that cause mutations (mutagens), and others that affect specific body systems (hepatotoxins, nephrotoxins, hemotoxins, neurotoxins; the list goes on and on). Everything is toxic in the right dose; some things are just way worse than others. Some of us are more susceptible and some more resistant to certain environmental factors. Being alive is a risky proposition.
Anyway, Lynn’s dog and her two cats are with family members and friends, which makes me happy. I think she had as many online friends as she did in the 3-D world. I myself never met her in person, but had a great dialogue online over 3 or so years; we just never got around to hanging out with mutual rescue friends for lunch at a Mexican restaurant we all meant to go to. And we live(d) in the same damn town, grrr. The lesson is to make time to hang out with the exceptional and extremely nice people in your life, because they’re in short supply.
The first photo is recent, of her with her dog Meg, soon after she’d been diagnosed. The second is an old shot on a canoe on the Meramec River. Makes a nice farewell glance, I think. RIP, Lynn, and may your journey in the next plane be joyful.