Thursday, November 23, 2006


He is very weak today, presumably—or so my mother and I hope—a side effect of the Taxol® and other components of the chemotherapy cocktail administered on Tuesday. But even if only a side effect, his state reflects an inevitable and close future.

Taxol was brought to market in the early 1990s, to great fanfare, after it became possible to produce commercial quantities. The drug was known by the 1970s but production was limited because of difficulties in extracting large amounts from Pacific Yew tree bark, from which it was first isolated. Almost no other drug has been proven to be as effective in fighting cancer, both in terms of efficacy and spectrum. Until just two days ago, I never anticipated my father being a recipient. If only for its palliative effects, today I am thankful for Taxol.

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