Frangos and Stem Cells

In the age of technology, there are lots of ways to find support for those of us who need it. There are always the strengths coming from friends and family, caregivers, clergy, and therapists. Fortunately, I have these resources in great abundance—almost more than I could have imagined, and certainly more than I can comprehend on some days, even now. Last week when I came home from my daily trek to the Confusion Clinic, there was a box of Frango dark chocolates lying on my couch along with a note. I didn’t even notice the surprise for almost an hour—I even moved the box so I had room to sit. Then it occurred to me: I certainly hadn’t purchased Frangos for myself—a Hershey’s Kiss is about the limit of my self indulgence.

Sure enough, the box was from my old friend GB, who had stopped by while I was out. “Enjoy,” he wrote. And I did, marveling at his thoughtfulness and my own lack of discernment–”A box of chocolates? For ME? How come?”

I am learning, however slowly, to ask for support, or go out and find it when I need to. For me, one of my techy solutions are on line support groups—I first found them ten or more years ago, when I went to an on line AA meeting because I really needed to find help quickly. On line support was an innovation then, but a satisfying solution to my immediate crisis, whatever that was at the time.

Today I just Googled “on line support groups” and came up with 29 million responses, many of which were health related. In my own current example, I have been subscribing to a Total Hip Replacement email list called “Totally Hip”. I enjoy the group discussions on techniques and hip replacement issues from around the world—there’s no better way to get over the feeling that you are alone in the problems you face.

Last night there was an interesting posting on Totally Hip from a group member who had watched the ABC Nightline (click here to go to the video) show on a new bone surgery technique that involves orthopedic stem cell surgery. The stem cell surgery involves drawing the patient’s own stem cells from his bone marrow, and then using the cells to create new bone growth–in the video example, a hip repair for someone who had had 7 surgeries all ready (sound familiar?)

ABC calls this technique “controversial” and underfunded research because it is so often confused with embryonic stem cell research, and subsequently bogged down in right-to-life issues. In fact, no embryonic stem cells are used in the ABC surgery report: the patient’s own cells create new bone growth.

Now I have long been interested in the area of stem cell research…ever since the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures presented its persuasive arguments at a local Chamber of Commerce Meeting. At that point in time, the stem cell subject was not particularly relevant to my life, I thought, and was merely an exercise in logic—if we have a chance of curing Alzheimer’s, or juvenile diabetes, or Lou Gehrig’s disease—what’s the issue? Of course there are arguments about cloning and killing unborn babies—arguments which do not pertain to the use of stem cells in the medical research cases I am talking about.

But now, along comes a technique which repairs bone damage by growing new bones. It can also repair articular cartilage, and heal ligaments and tendons. I think, from the vantage place of my wheelchair, that we need to pull out the stops in researching the potential of stem cell technology. It’s an even more important imperative to those of us in Michigan, where our state laws are repressive and discouraging to research initiatives. The Detroit Free Press reports:
“The Stem Cell Ballot Question Committee in Michigan wants to authorize the use of
excess or unsuitable embryos from fertility clinics that “would otherwise be discarded unless they are used for research.” In contrast to legislation aimed at opening up research on stem cells, the ballot proposal affirms Michigan’s law prohibiting human cloning.”

Well, we’ve got to support this ballot initiative issue in our state—not only to explore new cures, but also to keep our research facilities in Michigan (and attract new business). According to the Michigan Citizens for Stem Cell Research and Cures (MCSCRC),
“Michigan’s current laws on stem cell research are considered within the scientific community to be more restrictive than federal laws and policies enacted by many other states. The Houston Chronicle described Michigan in 2005 as one of five states with the most severe laws and called Michigan a “non-player” in the world of stem cell research.”

You can help by going to the Ballot Question Committee website at<a and request a petition which you can sign and circulate, supporting placement of this measure on the ballot in November.

Even I can do that from a wheelchair.


One thought on “Frangos and Stem Cells

  1. Judith,

    Thanks for sharing this information on regeneration of tissue through use of stem cells.

    If you haven’t yet read Chapter Seven of my book Taking Charge, I recommend it to you. It explains how protein is used to regenerate tissue and how important it is for people who are healing from surgery or decubitus ulcers to eat 1.5 times as much protein as they would normally eat.


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