Way back in the first memories I have of school I can still remember this incredibly curly haired girl. I remember she had red hair, which even back then signified and inspired all thoughts Irish to me. I remember she talked about being a doctor one day…along with about everyone else in our class. Everyone wanted to be a doctor, a fireman, a nurse, a police officer, or some professional at some sport…so, why Shannon´s confessed dream of a doctor stood out to me is anyone´s guess…except for the fact that she seemed like she could already have been one. You see, I remember while I was off mis-using big vocab words that even stumped the teacher, and the rest of the class was playing in the world of Playdo, Shannon was studying anatomy charts for fun. I mean, let´s be honest, I don´t know how much she retained, but, she was pouring over them nonetheless. So, that was Shannon.
I met with this amazing girl and still wonderful friend just a few days ago for some coffee at a local Peetes. I wonder if you can guess what this girl is now doing…hint…it rhymes with doctor. She is actually following up, almost exactly as she said she would in high school, on her way to becoming a fully accredited Doctor…in Genetics!
So there I was, sitting with one of the handful of the brightest women in the country, who touts an incredibly younger age than her accomplishments would lead you to believe…someone who still laughs at herself and everything funny in the world as she did in kindergarten…and someone who is heading up one of three leading teams smattered across the U.S. in an effort to achieve genetic breakthroughs for the greater scientific/medical community.
So, seeing as how I had this amazing woman of medicine before me, haha, I couldn´t help myself. I asked her to explain to me ,as she would a child, how things like HIV and AIDS work…if there were such things as miracle cures to end all cancers, gene therapy, gene manipulation, stuff I saw on CSI, stuff I saw in Gattaca…haha, even threw out some Jurassic Park questions. And God love her, she humored me and answered every single one, simply, beautifully, and most importantly, in a way that I can turn around and very simply explain now to someone else.
Most interestingly to me, and there was SO much to choose from, was probably how HIV and AIDS works, and why exactly it is so darn effective at what it does…bringing about death.
The AIDS/HIV virus invades us first and foremost as a simple, seemingly unimportant virus…often disguising itself as something else, even hitch-hiking a ride into our bodies via another virus. Imagine that…AIDS tagging alongside what you think is a common cold. Now most of us already know that you can only get HIV/AIDS through sexual intercourse, or infected blood through a most unfortunate transfusion… just to be clear, you can´t contract it as you would a common cold, or pnuemonia…only as AIDS. Still, you gotta admit, the way it makes its way into our bodies is stealthy, smart and impressive from the get-go.
She went on to say that it then does probably the smartest thing any virus could ever hope to do, (most of which can´t do)…it hides…in an easily overlooked, single, little, cell. It not only instinctively shacks up there, but then it stays dormant…so even if the body did a thorough overhaul of the area and managed to catch the interesting guest of the always single cell, it wouldn´t pose any threat.
Then, she went on to say, it goes and subtly chats it up with a part of the immune system…just a part. It starts to seduce this wayward piece of immunity and essentially convinces it to show it (AIDS) how it (immunity) does its replicating thing. After it learns this, and it always does, it then goes back to its old friend the single cell. It is from here that it starts to, just subtly enough, so as to not attract any attention from the immune system, reproduce more of itself. It fills this single cell to the brim with a million little viruses, all flaunting the AIDS virus.
And thus begins the seriousness of its long, incredibly painful and deadly plan. It produces itself so many times over that when it does finally announce itself to the body, synchronized mind you, it is no longer a single deadly virus, but hundreds of thousands of them.
It´s ingeneous and malevolent sense of things carries on with precision and potency as it immediately launches this army of virus directly into the blood stream (again, something not every virus does). This allows the most effective transportation throughout the body. This is why doctors inject medicines meant to combat this and other sicknesses into the same place. This dark, poaching army moves quick and fast as it makes its way directly toward the immune system. Again, I couldn´t believe how smart this thing sounds when I heard this…but it actually concentrates all of its power and effort on killing the “starting block” of the immune system. It´s not immobilizing a car without a steering wheel…a car could still theoretically run…and it´s not even like removing some vital wiring…there are even ways around that to arrouse a car.
This is removing the entire engine craziness!
The immune system sits and watches, all its power in rank, as it is unable to give any orders and unleash any energy needed to fight this all-at-once charging army. And so, the genetic trojan horse wins…and kills…touting an unbelievable toll into the tens of millions since its epidemic rant began in the early 90´s.
Shannon propsed back in community college, before she went to UC Davis to all her professors and their respective colleagues, that the medical community should consider trying to re-create a “starting block” for the immune system. Instead of trying to head AIDS off, because of it methodical and incredible execution once it´s in, she contended that only something like a new starting block being introduced to the body, and or course prevention of contracting it altogether, are the best possible ways to cure it. Some laughed, some scoffed and some simply thought it impossible…but not Shannon, She is sure that someone, somewhere would do well to really pour over that possibility and possibly provide the world with the miracle cure they think is so very close.
All I know is that if you believe this world came into existence the way I do as a Christ follower, then you don´t really give much clout to the impossible…that´s usually just another word for something that hasn´t been tried by either the right person, or at all.
I invite any of you who feel convicted to pray for Shannon and her fellow doctors around the world… that they would find a cure to any and all the diseases the enemy suredly takes so much pride and joy in.
May God be manifested in such possibilities of healing…both the medical and miraculous.