Saturday in the PARP

PARP_DNA-RepairCan you parallel PARP?

Well, I can’t. I’m not really sure what it means.

PARP? It stands for poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase.

That’s a mouthful. No stroll around the PARP.

My sister is embroiled in yet another major brouhaha with breast cancer. Radiation. Chemotherapy. Nausea. Hair loss. Sometimes it seems the treatment is tougher on her body than the disease.

Over the past thirteen years, cancer has spread from Nancy’s breast, to her sternum, to her liver. Chemotherapy has been her primary weapon. A few months ago, she was released from a clinical trial that involved an inhibitor meant to assist fresh rounds of chemo. She appeared to be getting better.

Well, not so much.

Some patients involved in the trial were getting the inhibitor, while others were getting a placebo. A worthless imitator. That’s how trials work. Nancy got the placebo. Nothing to help the chemo. A few months after the trial, a pet scan revealed new spots on her liver.

Time for a new type of treatment.

Along comes another trial, only this time, researchers are offering EITHER chemotherapy, OR the inhibitor. They want to see if the inhibitor works well to fight cancer on its own.

We’re talking about a PARP inhibitor.

No PARPing on the dance floor.

Best I understand it, the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase family of enzymes works in the body to repair a damaged cell. That’s great if you’re talking about a normal cell. What you don’t want is for your body to repair a cancer cell. So, along comes the PARP inhibitor to keep the body from fixing the mutated cell that wants to kill you. Without PARP, the cancer cell dies.

There’s actually a lot more to it than that, but a more detailed explanation is beyond my educational level. Medical experts could tear my simple synopsis aPARP.

Anyway, there’s Nancy, the subject of another trial, at the mercy of chance. A computer would decide if she would be one of the test subjects receiving chemo, or if she would get the PARP inhibitor we thought she was getting during the first trial. More of the poison that’s scorched her body for years, or a new approach. Same old harsh treatment, or new and gentle.

The computer went to work.

Nancy’s loved ones took to social media in a plea for prayers. Friends and strangers offered my sister’s name up to the Lord. I have no way of knowing how many bowed their heads. I know I did. I didn’t ask that God influence the computer. I asked that God give our family the strength to keep Nancy upright in her time of need. I asked that He comfort my sister to accept her fate.

The answer arrived.

It’s the PARP.

The computer’s random choice set off a series of joyful texts between siblings and in-laws. Nothing could inhibit our excitement.

So, Nancy is off on a new adventure. For now, no more chemo burning through her veins. It’s all about helping her body work in total concert against a vile intruder.

It’s like a Saturday in the PARP.

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