Tuesday, 8 July 2014

"I am not the Cancer" Art Installation

4 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

I feel privileged to have been invited to the "I am not the Cancer" Art installation in Central London part of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign commissioned by Novartis.
I used to go to scientific conferences all over, sporting a badge with my name and my research lab on it. But this time, I was invited as a Science Writer! How exciting to be recognized for your work!

I was contacted through LinkedIn by a member of the Breast Cancer Care. This charity raises awareness and funds for the care of women affected by Breast Cancer whose disease has become metastatic.
Before being taken through to the art installation, we were welcomed in a reception area where we were presented with the results of the Here and Now campaign.

The Here and Now campaigns are surveys commissioned by Novartis Oncology. In the UK, with 60 respondents living with advanced breast cancer and distributed in April and May 2014, the objectives are to understand the challenges experienced by the patients at each stage of their journey and understand the barriers to improved patient outcomes.

Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and accounts for a third of all new cancers diagnosed in women in UK!
A third of women with early breast cancer (EBC) go on to develop Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC).
ABC is uncurable and affects an estimated 30,000 women in the UK each year.
Average life expectancy after ABC diagnosis remains at 2 to 4 years, compared to 10 years for early breast cancer.

Here and Now Survey Results
The results of the HERE and Now UK survey were presented to us by Honey Langcaster-James, a lecturer in Psychology from the university of Hull. The results show that women with ABC often feel like many areas of their lives are negatively affected, such as their emotional health, the relationships with friends, family and partner.  Up to one in 3 women with ABC feel they do not receive enough support from their friends or parents.

Patients with ABC require a high degree of social and psychological support. 2 out of 3 women feel like no one understands what they are going through and that it's hard to find support groups for ABC. They feel isolated from other support groups that focus on Early Breast Cancer (EBC). With time, the support they received from friends and family when first diagnosed has faded.

Although, the majority of patients said they received enough support from nurses and their oncologists, they want more time to discuss their wider needs and get help to arrange for these such as emotional and financial support.

Regarding treatments, more work is needed to ensure greater access to new treatments for ABC patients. Almost half of the patients surveyed would like to know more about new treatments but are unsure of who to talk to, some of them don't even feel empowered to make their own decisions.
"These results call for Action... Health Care professionals (HCP) need to understand they can do more... Payers, regulators, commissioners need to work to improve the landscape... We need patient support groups... The Public needs to be aware." said Honey Langcaster-James
Leading UK experts
Gill Donovan, Breast Oncology Nurse specialist and Research Fellow at Cardiff University, also shared her experience with us. She explained that treatment options are not the same depending on your geographical location, the access to new treatments is limited because of costs. Although, she explained, nurses need to balance optimism and realities, one important role to play is the need to give hope, to concentrate on the living and not on the dying.
" We need a service to be redesigned on how to deal with the variety of tasks such as explain treatments, refer to appropriate services, talk to patients, manage their anxiety, manage emotional and physical effects" she says.
Diana Jupp, Director of Services at Breast Cancer Care, says the charity continues to campaign to improve the standards of care for people living with this complex disease. In the UK, we had 5 specialist nurses; this number increased to 32 recently. But it's 32 in the whole of UK! There's a lot of work to be done, collecting data in England, network with Wales and Scotland, sharing good practice, installing policies. A sentiment shared by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin who also came to talk to us about her continuous work to influence politics into opening up to ABC awareness.

The art installation
Then, we were led to the art installation itself: It consisted of 6 TV screens showing face and back of the head of 3 silent patients suffering from advanced breast cancer. Opposite each TV screen was a comfortable armchair; and above each armchair was a speaker from which you could hear their devastating story. So to hear their story, you had no choice but to sit in this armchair and look in the eyes of this silent patient on the TV screen (not a comfortable thing to do). The point of this art installation was to make you realize that, however uncomfortable it is, that’s how we should support friends and family as opposed to using escapism as a coping method. This art installation was created to make you feel differently, to question yourself in order to make you behave differently.

Are you affected by advanced breast cancer? Through a friend, family member, yourself? Were you aware of the lack of support for these patients? As usual, let me know in the comments box,

See you Soon for more Sexy Science,

Further reading

Monday, 30 June 2014

Inspire your daughters with Science, Technology, Maths and Engineering (STEM) subjects

6 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

I'm always on the look out for some amazing sciencey stuff across the net to share on Twitter. I use my twitter account as a list of links to really great reads, videos, pix, etc... So, really, this one should go on there but because it's so relevant, I wanted to share it with you on the blog too!
It's a video about how, from very early on, we can influence our children by repetitive actions or words. This one focuses on the fact that we tell girls they are pretty, not to get messy, that there's no point in exploring manual things, it's best to leave that to boys. This repetitive behaviour would shape a girl into thinking she's not fit for STEM subjects.

What do you think, my Sexy Readers, do you agree? Or do you think it's just a stereotype, it doesn't really happen? What other repetitive words or actions have you heard that influenced you throughout your life?
Let me know in the comments box, thank you for sharing your experiences, you're super Sexy!

See you Soon for Some Sexy Science,

Thursday, 26 June 2014

What is Sarcoma?

4 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

I stumbled upon this while working on a writing test for a job application (! I know, totally random!): this week 23-29 June 2014 - yeahhhh I'm not too late - is Sarcoma Awareness week!! I'm glad I found this because, although I knew the name, I didn't really know much about Sarcomas. And you know me, I love learning about new things and sharing it all with you.
This year's campaign is about Getting People "On the ball" for sarcoma. What is it? It's simple, you just download a Poster from their web page and order your "On the Ball" pack to bring to your GP to make him/her more aware of symptoms, signs, etc... I couldn't find any # to go with the campaign but if you type Sarcoma on the ball on Twitter, you get some results!
You can download this poster yourself from HERE and bring to your GP, along with an info pack
Sarcoma Fact Sheet (borrowed from the Sarcoma website)
Sarcoma is a group of rare-ish cancers that develop in the muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and the fatty and fibrous tissues.

There are around 100 different sub-types of sarcoma

There are around 3,800 new cases of sarcoma diagnosed each year in the UK

There are 13,000 people living with sarcoma in the UK

Sarcomas make up 15% of all childhood cancers (0-14 years) and 11% of all cancer diagnoses in teenagers and young people (15-24 years)

Sarcomas make up 1% of all cancer diagnoses in the UK

If you are interested or just want to know more about Sarcomas, check the charity's designated web page over HERE

Did you know about Sarcoma? Do you feel we should get more involved in the awareness campaign to get GPs to recognise signs and symptoms? Feel free to share your experience in the comments box, thank you for dropping and...

See you Soon for more Sexy Science,

Further Reading

Monday, 23 June 2014

What is Diabetes?

6 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

I've been working on the second installment of #MyBodyDoesWhat series which will be a new infographic on Pancreas (Previous ScienceSoSexy infographics)! Little did I know that beginning of June was Diabetes week. How timely am I? - Well, I'm 2 weeks too late, but it could be worse, right?! (If you don't know what Pancreas and Diabetes have in common, keep reading ;)

8th - 14th June was the week chosen to raise awareness to this common life-long health condition. This year, using the different social media platforms, the word was #ican! An initiative to show help and support to anyone with diabetes by gathering examples of things that this condition will never let you stop from doing. Check out their live story stream over HERE.

3.2 million people are diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 630,000 people have the condition, but don’t know it. In the world, the diabetic population stands at 365 million people, representing around 8.5% of the global population.

Diabetes is when our body either doesn't make enough insulin (produced by our pancreas) or cannot use its own insulin properly to help get the sugar (coming from food or our liver) to move from our blood into the cells of our body, causing build up of that sugar in our bloodstream.

Insulin glucose diabetes
The Insulin binds to its Receptor and makes the Glucose transporter move to the cell surface where it can open up a passage to let the Glucose come inside the cell. If there's no insulin or the receptor doesn't recognize or respond to it, the Glucose is stuck in the blood and accumulates = Diabetes
There are 2 types of diabetes
Type 1 is when the body doesn't produce insulin. It requires insulin to treat, is typically developed as a child or young adult, and is a disease that destroys pancreatic cells meaning no insulin production is possible.

Type 2 is when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the insulin produced is not working properly. It is considerably more common and typically affects people over the age of 45, who are also overweight.

If you have followed my first #MyBodyDoesWhat infographic, you know that I'm going to use this series to explore what our body does because seriously it is freakishly genius. I think I should know more about it so I thought I would share with my Sexy Readers whatever info I gather! My second installment on Pancreas is basically "in the making" stage.

In the meantime, if you would like to share your own experience with fellow readers, feel free to hit the comments box, so

See you Soon for more Sexy Science,

Further reading

Friday, 20 June 2014

Feeling like a Sexy Scientist with my DNA earrings

6 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

Today, I've got something very special for you!
The other day, I was tweeting away, reading awesome things, when I got a message from a Sexy Scientist called Camille!! We chatted and we got to talk about her Etsy shop called "Tout doucement" and her very special designs. I thought "Oh My, these are perfect for my Sexy Readers!". So she sent me a pair of her Rainbow DNA earrings for me to try them out! Got them all the way from Montreal, they arrived in perfect condition! I was so excited to receive them, I teared the envelop open and put them on straight away!
I've had them on for about 2 hours now, and they are so light, you barely feel them and my ears haven't gone red - which it's what usually happens when I wear the usual heavy earrings for too long. They are quite sturdy, you won't mess up the helix by playing too much with them, and there's no funny ends sticking you in the face as it's usually the case with handmade jewellery.
My partner has been commenting on them a couple of times already saying how pretty they are and how they suit me so well!!
Let me tell you, my dear sexy readers, I do feel like a Sexy Scientist right now!!!
Check them out
Rainbow DNA earrings
Rainbow DNA earrings

No make up selfie Rainbow DNA earrings
Excuse the no make up selfie!

These are part of her Rainbow collection because the DNA ladder is made of amazing and brightly coloured glass beads. This pair is 1.8 inches long and retails at £13.81 on her Etsy shop. She also makes longer ones which I bet must make you feel even sexier!
If you'd like something to go with one frock or another, she does make other DNA earrings of different colours, I particularly like the Amber genes ones because I think they would look very stylish and clever on an evening gown.

Let me know, my dear Sexy Readers, what kind of earrings do you like wearing? Fun, statement, stylish?

See you Soon for more Sexy Science,

This item was sent to me for the purpose of review but views are my own :)

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Real Big Bang Theory #Pint2014 Review by Phil

14 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

During the Pint of Science festival, I was lucky enough to go to the very popular and sold out talk by Prof John Ellis entitled 'Blowing up the Universe'. What a treat, I felt so privileged to see that eminent scientist explain the Big Bang Theory to us in the amazing surrounding of a central London pub! Very surreal! I got home, super psyched and shaking from adrenaline!

If you don't know who Prof John Ellis is, let me tell you he's one of those people who will be mentioned in Physics book in at least the next 200 years for his involvement in understanding our Universe and of course the extraordinary CERN's Large Hadron Collider. 

So, my Sexy Readers, let me introduce to you Sexy Scientist Phil who was there with me that night, and knowing his larger memory capacity, I thought it would only be fair to Prof John Ellis to ask a brighter mind to summarize our evening! Here is his review:

Prof John Ellis ScienceSoSexy
Prof John Ellis
In ‘Blowing Up The Universe’ Prof John Ellis took us on a journey through the ever expanding Universe. 

It turns out that the Universe has been expanding ever since it came into being with a great Big Bang, and that we are in a period of exceptionally rapid inflation right now. 
Curiously, all the exciting stuff in the Universe seems to have happened in the very first few fractions of a second, even before most particles let alone atoms ever existed. 

The problem is that 13.8 billion years later, it’s not entirely trivial to work out what exactly did happen back then. Clever people like John Ellis give it a go anyway; they come up with theories for which they amazingly sometimes even find evidence in the here and now. 

BICEP2 telescope in the South Pole from HERE
For example, a good chunk of the white noise you get with a badly tuned TV set is caused by cosmic background radiation which originated at the time of the Big Bang. 
As if this was not proof enough, the aptly named BICEP2 experiments (basically a huge telescope at the South Pole) has recently measured this in a slightly more sophisticated fashion than a 60s TV set and now found definite proof for the ultra-rapid expansion of the early Universe – unless of course the measurements were contaminated by galactic dust (star dust’s ugly sibling) which apparently is a real possibility. 

John Ellis was a very engaging and entertaining speaker and I really enjoyed the talk, although I won’t claim for a second that I understood even half of what he said. 

To answer the question why the Universe only ever expands and never contracts, he produced my favourite analogy: the Universe is a bank you can withdraw money from that you never have to pay back. 
Now that is my sort of bank!

"A" Big Bang Theory - by

Thank you Sexy Phil for your review. I hope you, my Sexy Readers, found it interesting and that you wouldn't want to miss talks down the pub by such eminent Scientists!!

I have to mention that the evening then turned into a Physics stand up comedy with the very funny and of course Sexy, Lieven Scheire who explained some Physics to us using humour! Very entertaining indeed, and I hope to see my fellow Belgian again very soon,

See you Soon for more Sexy Science,

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Designer babies #Pint2014 Review by Debbie

12 Sexy People gave their opinion
My Dear Sexy Readers,

I'm sure you are all sexilly aware by now of Pint Of Science festival that happened this year all over the world between the 19th and 21st of May (my review on the liver talk, my review on the probiotics talk). You can also look up #pint2014 on here or on your favourite platform.

Because so many talks were happening at the same type all across my city - London - it was impossible to be everywhere, so I asked a few friends to report to me on what they learnt down their local pub ;)

May I introduce to you Sexy Debbie who went to the Imperial College Union Bar to a talk entitled 'Creating Life: Test Tubes and Ethics'. Here is her review, and don't forget to leave your thoughts in the comments box:

"When does life begin? Who has the right to decide on the fate of an embryo? Is genetic enhancement necessarily a bad thing? These are hotly debated issues surrounded by controversies and impassioned views. They are not easy questions and they have no easy answers, yet they are just some of the many contentious issues faced by the field of medical ethics and reproductive science.

At a sold-out Pint of Science event I was lucky enough to be in the audience for Mr Stuart Lavery and Professor Raanan Gillon’s talks on ‘Creating life: test tubes and ethics’, in the unlikely surroundings of the pub. Mr Stuart Lavery is the director of IVF Hammersmith, one of the world’s largest IVF units, and Professor Raanan Gillon is Emeritus Professor in Medical Ethics at Imperial College London. Together they are two of the world’s foremost professors in the field of medical ethics and reproductive science.

IVF Hammersmith has pioneered the reproductive technology of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, whereby couples undergoing IVF can have their embryos screened for genetic diseases so that only embryos free from the genetic mutations will be implanted. On a scientific level, the procedure is ground-breaking. By removing just one cell from an 8-cell stage embryo, enough DNA can be extracted for genetic screening and the embryo will continue to develop unharmed. At IVF Hammersmith, every member of lab staff has been genetically screened so that if any of their cells accidentally fall into the vials they are working with their DNA will be detected and not confused with that of the embryo.

Baby Designer Healthy Happy Mother SSS
'All parents hope for a healthy baby'

All parents hope for a healthy baby and will do what they can to help minimise any risks, giving up smoking, alcohol and caffeine for example. Selecting an embryo that is not predisposed to a genetic disease is another means of increasing the chance of having a healthy baby. The concerns and objections tend to arise based on the fate of the embryos that do have genetic mutations and when the possibilities of what the technology is capable of are considered.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis currently screens for specific serious genetic diseases. This isn’t because that is all that the science is capable of, this is because that is all that is legal in the UK. It is possible to screen embryos for risk factors for particular diseases, such as the risk gene for breast cancer. Would it be right to select against embryos that may get a disease when they equally may not get it? Likewise, it is possible to select for a female or male embryo, to screen for eye colour or hair colour, and even to genetically modify the DNA of the embryo and develop so-called designer babies. As more genes are identified, personality traits could also be screened for. What is the line? Who should decide where to draw it? Should legislation be the same across different countries? Should legislation be in place at all, should public committees be used to make ethical decisions or should parents have the right to decide?

As much as the right of the parents is respected, this was over-ridden in the case of a deaf couple who requested for their IVF embryos to be screened for the deaf gene. They felt they could raise a deaf child better than a hearing child, but it was decided that this did not value the welfare of the child and so the request was rejected. The process of reaching ethical verdicts such as this was explained by Professor Raanan Gillon, who described four principles that provide a moral framework within which to make ethical decisions.

This was a fascinating evening full of discussion and debate. I came away with many more questions than I started with. Clearly the development of reproductive technologies has increased the options for couples at risk of having a child with a serious genetic disorder. However, the use of techniques such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis is expanding, creating new ethical and legal dilemmas in need of regulation and legal frameworks.

How often do you get to discuss such hot topics in the pub with two world experts?! Thanks Pint of Science, I will definitely be back again next year!"

Useful links/further reading 
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
A guide to preimplantation genetic diagnosis
IVF Hammersmith
Pint of Science
Professor Raanan Gillon Imperial College profile

I hope you all Sexy Readers enjoyed Debbie's review on this super hot topic and let me know what you think in the comments :)

Stay tuned for Sexy Phil and his review on the Big Bang Theory talk by none other than Prof John Ellis, one of the most famous theoretical physicist of our time (a real - slightly older - Sheldon if you like ;))!

See you Soon for more Sexy Science,