Research to Reality – a personal share

By Jennifer Nickel 11/05/2011

Cancer research is what I do.  It’s all pre-clinical, in the laboratory.  I deal with cells, reagents, chemotherapy drugs, radiation, and so on… almost daily.  Yet oddly enough, until 6 weeks ago, I had never actually met anyone who had cancer and knew that it was terminal. 

The reason for my recent break from blogging was due to the fact that I was visiting my grandmother in Germany for the last time.  My parents and I immigrated to New Zealand 16 years ago and this was my third visit back.

It was as great a holiday as it could be under the circumstances, and I was very glad to have had the chance to say goodbye.  Yet it was really enlightening:  I used to firmly believe that knowing the end is near would be best as it would give you the chance to say things to people you might not otherwise have said;  However, in my time there I noticed that when there is too much time (to dwell and contemplate your imminent death, along with everyone else) then this also opens the gates to say many things that needn’t be said.   

Few of the many cancer related facts and theories I had learned at work prepared me for the reality of the disease in human.   But grandma did what grandparents do best; broaden the views of the younger generation!  Now back to the research and back to the blogging 😀

0 Responses to “Research to Reality – a personal share”

  • Jen, I’m so very sorry to hear about your grandmother. Your post reminded me of my own similar experiences when my mother was dying (also of cancer). We had about 6 weeks from when it became clear that her illness was terminal & death imminent. It was actually quite difficult as while we had many things we wanted to say (& ask), until the last few days mum just didn’t want to talk about her life & death. I guess we all approach our inevitable end in different ways.

  • So sorry to hear about your grandmother, Jen.
    I remember when my Aunt was on her last (7th I think) course of chemotherapy for ovarian cancer she would ask me about the latest cancer therapies and having to explain that science is a very slow process, much slower than most people think. I remember feeling so frustrated that science doesn’t move faster.
    Still, I learnt a lot from her as she approached everything with grace and good humour.
    I guess the one good thing about terminal diseases (as opposed to sudden unexpected deaths) is it can give everyone the opportunity to say things that need to be said.