Am I inundating you with too much science lately? Are there too many facts to keep straight, is there too much advice to follow? Have you remembered to nag your spouse to slow death by cancer, for example, or to let your coffee cool before you drink it to prevent cancer altogether? I trust you’re taking notes because my work here is never done.
A reputable research lab reported compelling findings recently that I felt worth sharing. Turns out bi-valves can spread a leukemia-like illness to one another. Not only that, this transmission may occur within and between species. That means a sick mollusk can infect another mollusk, or even a poor unsuspecting clam.
Before you panic and stop ordering clam linguine at your favourite Italian restaurant, you should know that you, dear human, cannot get cancer from a cancerous bi-valve. A bi-valve can infect only another bi-valve, not a person. Do you feel better now?
In contrast, there is no evidence that cancer can spread from one person to another. People with HPV are more prone to certain cancers, and that’s why the HPV vaccine is now routinely administered in early adolescence. But you can’t catch cancer germs. We can still hug and kiss (no tongue, though, since I’m not married to you) and you won’t fall ill, or at least not from cancer. So don’t fear me, dear friend, only my laughter is infectious, not my cancer.
I’m glad you can’t get cancer from me because I appreciate the odd hug, even though I’m an awkward hugger at best. Do you remember Dr. Woman? (Bear with my apparent free association here.) Our contact was fairly brief and she was always going at full speed–when we met following Easter, she mentioned she’d spent her weekend in the hatchery–so I worry she didn’t know how much I appreciated her care of me. Sometimes saying thank you, however many times, doesn’t feel like enough.
At the end of our final appointment, when she ditched me (sometimes breaking up with a doctor is a good thing), we both got up to leave. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she asked if she could give me a hug. Who am I to refuse a hug from a doctor, especially one who has cared for me so diligently and with such compassion?
I spent a lot of time wondering what prompted Dr. Woman to initiate that hug. Did she know she likely wouldn’t see me again because I no longer needed her care but, also, I had leukemia and might not be around forever? Was she acknowledging my challenging health journey, and celebrating, in this context, my no longer needing her care? Was she picking up on my deep appreciation for her? Maybe she just needed a hug herself, although somehow I doubt that. I’ll never know and it doesn’t really matter, but it’s a gesture I’ll never forget.
Would she still hug me today in light of that new research? I can only hope she would.