Knitting Trials

short beach 06.11.13My shawl design was giving me a lot of trouble. It just wouldn’t be what I wanted it to be. No matter what I did, or how many times I started over — and yes, I frogged a completed shawl — it vexed me. I’m using the most delicious yarn, Brigantia, and my favorite DyakCraft Interchangeable needles, and listening to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild as I knit. You would think that those three factors would make the knitting work. But no.

So I let it go. I put the latest incarnation of the shawl aside for a couple of days. I wanted to think about it. Then it came to me: what I was doing was over thinking.

I frogged the few inches I’d started, and went back to the beginning, to the motif that made me want to do this in the first place. I removed all the extras, and began to refine what I had. Then I cast on again, and before long I was seeing something I really like. I like this shawl, and now we’re on good terms. The trials are over.

Clinical Trials

In the middle of the knitting trials, I spent last Sunday morning at the third Celebration Breakfast for clinical trial participants at Stony Brook’s Cancer Survivor’s Day. This small part of a much larger event has become more and more important to me as the years pass. I’m incredibly proud of my contribution to the research that improves treatment and outcomes for women with endometrial cancer, and I’m honored to have been able to be part of a clinical trial.

This point was made more than once by the morning’s speakers: Without clinical trials, and patients to participate in them, there would be no new cancer treatments, and no discoveries that make treatments tolerable, or that make some cancers curable.

My feelings of pride and gratitude surprised me, but why? Some part of me is always aware of what I went through, and what it was for, and that I did it in part so that the path I took would be of value to someone else some day. It’s neither altruistic nor selfish. I needed treatment, and all I had to do was go one step further and say yes to Dr. Pearl when he asked me to join.

GOG 209 — “my” study — is changing the way women with advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer will receive chemotherapy. Because chemo will be the best treatment option for a while yet (until more research and clinical trials show the way down a new path), my participation could help make it more tolerable and less toxic for many women — “for my sisters,” as Dr. Pearl says.

One other important point was made by a speaker at the breakfast: In the time that has passed since he was in medical school, about 25 years ago, none of the cancer treatments that were in use then are used today. Not one. Research and clinical trials made that possible.

I guess this is why I am grateful to the women who came before me, and proud of myself on behalf of the women who will follow me.

Now back to knitting.