Rose Day: Of love, hope and courage

Written By Dr. Ninada KC
Tutor, Dept of Anatomy
AJ Institute of Medical Sciences, Mangalore

Did you know that September 22nd is also celebrated as Rose Day? A very similar, different way of showing and showering love. Celebrating hope, happiness and strength in the lives of cancer patients across the world.

Rose day came into effect in honor of a 12 year old cancer fighter, Melinda Rose. Diagnosed with Askin’s tumor and an ultimatum of a few weeks to live, Rose did not lose hope. Braving up against her odds, Rose battled on for over 3 years, making positive impacts in the form of letters and emails to other cancer fighters. Rose was an inspiration, a beacon, a friend and a counselor to those that attended cancer camps with her. She took to the internet, creating a space for children and any cancer fighters to communicate, find help or support groups, with the website:

Her impact lasts till today, years after the young warrior has succumbed to her illness.

Today, thanks to medical advancements, we do have remedies and treatment protocols to a wide range of cancers. However, the psychological and emotional impact a diagnosis of cancer has on the patient and the family is yet to be addressed. That is exactly where the Rose day initiative aims to step in. It serves as a reminder to the cancer patients as well as their caregivers that a major part of a cancer battle is also the determination to beat the disease. Wishes, cards and smiles are exchanged all around while rendering the necessary emotional strength and psychological support.

In the spirit of Rose day, a vital part of it is raising awareness, increasing outreach and screening. This Rose Day, the fraternity has much to celebrate. A recent study by Andrea Cereck et al (PD-1 Blockade in Mismatch Repair–Deficient, Locally Advanced Rectal Cancer Andrea Cercek, M.D., Melissa Lumish, M.D., Jenna Sinopoli, N.P., Jill Weiss, B.A., et al), Jun 2022 has brought hope in abundance to all cancer patients by “curing” cancer in 100% of the study sample. Composed of 12 patients diagnosed with locally advanced rectal cancer, the study involved treatment with single agent dostarlimab, an anti-program death (PD)-1 inhibitor- a monoclonal antibody administered for 6 months. With a minimum of 6 months of follow-up, the entire study pool showed a clinical complete response, with zero evidence of tumor
on any clinical/ pathological and radiological examinations. Thus rendering the participants of the study cancer free!

In other joyous news, Lennon AM et al (Feasibility of blood testing combined with PET-CT to screen for cancer and guide intervention) have been evaluating the feasibility of employing Multi Cancer Early Detection (MCED) tests for management of cancer. MCEDs are blood tests that will complement as well as enhance the existing screening tests by identifying circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), DNA mutations and other cancer signals specific to specific cancers. The study promises a detection of over 50 types of cancer in asymptomatic patients, while successfully detecting 31% cancers for which no standard screening
protocols currently exist. The study has documented a good sensitivity and an excellent specificity rate, thus paving a simpler, less invasive and economic method of screening.

However, both studies only brush the surface of a much deep rooted disease. Several questions stand to be answered, with the need for more substantial results.

Both studies have involved very small study groups, with several controlled parameters. While it remains to be seen if cancer can indeed be cured without the fear of a relapse at every corner or if it can be diagnosed and tamed much before its onset, for now all this gives, is hope to the cancer patients. A hope that one day they too may be cured of cancer, and hope is what Rose Day is all about!

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