I am a soldier: my battle with cancer

I am a soldier: my battle with cancer

Mikhail (Misha) V. Blagosklonny

Rapamycin is the most effective cancer-preventive drug  [1, 2]. 


Brief introduction to my forthcoming article (or book)

On January 12 (my birthday is on January 13) 2023, I was hospitalized to Mass General Hospital in Boston (the most famous hospital in the world) with multiple brain metastasis of lung cancer and dysarthria. Ironically, a small mass in the lung was seen by X-ray in the summer of 1991, and it had changed very little eight years later. Therefore, it was decided to ignore it. It was ignored by me and anyone else for the next 24 years. As an MD/PhD and professor of oncology, author of 300 articles on cancer progression and therapy, I felt invincible and could not believe that cancer could happen to me. (After all, I was taking rapamycin and other anti-aging drugs and quit smoking.) Subconsciously, I may have been anxious and suppressed any thoughts of the asymptomatic harmless mass.  I never looked at any X-rays until 2023.

In March 2022, I shrugged off the possibility of lung cancer, when I was hospitalized with stroke, resulting in left side (leg and arm) paralysis. My account that the mass had been in the lung for three decades made everyone relieved. Instead, all efforts were focused on finding the source of the thromboembolism.  Futile.  In retrospect, I am now convinced that stroke was caused by lung cancer embolism. {Navi, 2021 #1}{Navi, 2009 #2}

 After the initial shock of being paralyzed on March 2022, I decided that if life gave me lemons, I should make lemonade, and I developed a successful recovery strategy (for me and other stroke survivors). 

My recovery was spectacular: from wheelchair to swimming to walking to running and even jumping (swimming is easier than walking). I even learned new motor skills, such as golf. (I will tell recovery strategy later). The summer/fall of 2022 was the happiest time in my life.  I had the goal, and life had its meaning.  

Meanwhile cancer was silently growing in my lung and creating metastases in the brain, which finally manifested as speech dysarthria (inability to be understood) by January 12, 2023. 

Why was it so long (more than 3 decades) between the detection of a benign small mass in 1991 and advanced metastatic lung cancer by 2023?

First, lung cancer could develop for 20 years [3].  For example, smoking-related alterations were found in cancers of former smokers who quit smoking 20 years ago. [3]

Second, remarkably, I was taking rapamycin, and rapamycin delays cancer [1] [2]. Although I was taking rapamycin irregularly, not consistently,  and at suboptimal schedules for cancer prevention (I will discuss schedules later), cancer progression might have been slowed down [2].  I was not specifically taking rapamycin to delay cancer, but mostly to delay aging and all age-related diseases including cancer [4]. I was the first scientist who proposed (in 2006) that rapamycin is a ready-to-use anti-aging drug and how to use it for longevity without additional trials [5, 6]. After 2006, I switched my research from cancer to aging. Later I will tell the fascinating story of my discovery and validation of rapamycin as anti-aging drug.  Remarkably, rapamycin was a prediction of the hyperfunction theory of aging, which now is replacing the theory that aging is caused by free radicals and molecular damage [5].  Rapamycin is replacing antioxidants and NAD boosters as an anti-aging drug in healthy humans. (It is noteworthy that, whereas rapamycin and its analogs are cancer preventive and anticancer drugs, both antioxidants and NAD boosters may, in contrast, promote cancer growth.)

This “science and life” article is a personal account on numerous scientific advances in cancer and aging research. It will cover new insights on cancer, anti-cancer drug combinations, selective protection of normal cells from chemotherapy and therapy-driven tumor progression. I will mention why anti-cancer drugs are also tumor promoters, whether carcinogens can be anti-cancer drugs. I also will discuss the aging and age-related diseases that are a continuation of developmental growth.   

I will start in a reverse chronological order, because I must tell new, yet unpublished notions on how my metastatic cancer could be treated with curative intent. This is very important for me, as a patient, and I will present it first, just in case I will die too soon, unable to finish the article.  

Diagnosed with numerous metastases of lung cancer in my brain in January 2023, I felt that I must accomplish a mission. Among numerous unfinished writings I must select and complete a few most important. If everything happens for a reason, my cancer in particular, I must find how cancer can be treated with curative intent. This is my mission now, and the reason I was ever born. In February 2023, I understood the meaning of life, of my life. I was born to write this article.