If you didn't see 60 Minutes on Sunday, you missed one of the most remarkable stories they've covered. And given the program's lofty history, that's says more than a lot. It wasn't an investigation uncovering anything, but rather a fairly straight-forward, though detailed report on a medical study at Duke University that is...well, stunning.
How stunning? The story was entitled, "Killing Cancer." It concerns a program where they believe they are on to discoveries that could lead to curing a deadly form of brain cancer, along with some others. And it's beyond the wait and hope stage. In the very first test case -- a point at which the doctor in charge said that the general expectation of any medical experiments is just to try and get the dosage right and build from there over a great deal of time -- the virulently deadly brain cancer in the patient...disappeared to near nothingness. And has remained that way for three years -- to a degree that some of those involved were so wary about saying not that it was in remission, but...cured.
There are moments throughout the report that will likely have you in awe, with tears of joy and cheering.
To be clear, as the report states, not every test case has gone as well, and there have been significant setbacks and losses. But at this early stage , those were expected, and the successes have been breathtakingly stunning..
Equally stunning is what is behind this process. It uses -- polio! What appears to be the case is that polio cells change the chemistry of the cancer cells, and that allows the body's natural immune system fight it off.
I'll admit to an addition joy from watching this story. My mother had polio, and it also returned late in her life as what's called "post polio," so if that disease can play any part in potentially curing cancer, it adds a sense of joy knowing that such a benefit can be derived from it.
I'll admit too that it was impossible for me to watch this report and not think of all those who today try to deny science and demean its discoveries and advances. It's hard not to think that there is a space in hell deep enough for them. And that God isn't looking down and saying, "Why in the world do you think I created scientists?!!"
Here is the 60 Minutes report, broken into two segments. It runs for about 26 wonderful minutes.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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