June 20, 2013 by Kevin Keras
Mike, Cancer & Chaos Theory
My friend and colleague Mike Williams was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine cancer. Also known as carcinoids, these slow growing tumors are often found in the digestive system (can also be found in the lungs and other organs) and are referred to as 'cancer-like'...but make so mistake, they are cancer by every definition of the word and those receiving a diagnosis similar to Mike's are often told to 'get their affairs in order...'
Unlike Russ, another friend of mine who lost his 2 year battle with a similar cancer last week, Mike was diagnosed over 6 years ago. Mike has endured multiple surgeries and chemotherapy regimens as well as a long list of experimental drugs and drug cocktails. Last month, he presented at the Midwest Lab Robot Interest Group meeting (LRIG) and spoke eloquently about the role automation and instrumentation has had on cancer patients from a first person perspective. His talk can be viewed by clicking here.
In his closing comments, Mike points out that what many of us consider to be routine or mundane activities have real world implications for patients. It's sort of like the butterfly effect... postpone an instrument service call or back order a critical component and you might delay an assay run that could yield novel data about a promising compound which could effect follow up studies, that then delays publication, resulting in missing a journal submission deadline that moves out the dissemination of clinically relevant info that might effect otherwise terminally ill patients...etc.
Mike is a shining example of perseverance, hope, faith and applied science. I am so happy to see him presenting and grateful that he could take the time to share his journey with us. I'll never look at a service request the same way again... Godspeed Mike Williams.