Followers of my blogs, and the readers who read the acknowledgement pages of my books, will know that I lost my partner Laura Herrmann to breast cancer in May 2006. I've been interested in cancer research since then and have privately made contributions to cancer related charities, but I've never put out any sort of appeal on my blogs to solicit for this cause, until now.
Last week, I received several cases of my latest book Dragonseed. One of the ongoing themes of Dragonseed is the idea of healing, both from physical and spiritual wounds. Within the book there's a miraculous object called a dragonseed: Eat the seed, and all your injuries will be healed. Even your oldest scars will vanish.
I have some science fiction hoodoo underlying the dragonseed. The technology to create a pill that will both diagnose and cure any illness is pretty far out in our future, if it exists at all. But, the part of this that isn't science fiction or hoodoo is that I believe that technology has the power to work miracles. We have MRI and PET scans that can look into a human body and see it working in minute detail. We have developed surgical tools and techniques that can remove diseased tissues from a human body without doing undo damage to healthy tissues. My father had a heart attack recently, and the doctors had to place stents in his arteries. The incision to perform the operation was small enough to cover with a band-aid. And, right now, there are researchers who are taking apart cancer cells molecule by molecule to understand the genetic engines that drive them to a degree unimaginable only a few decades ago.
We live in an age of miracles because we live in an age of knowledge. Modern computers are finally powerful enough to process all the complex data contained within a human cell. The only barriers remaining between our present understanding a cure for any disease you can name are time and money.
These are not insignificant barriers. New technologies are always expensive. And, to be blunt, the world has a limited supply of really smart people, and a nearly unlimited supply of problems for them to solve. For better or worse, money is one of the most important driving forces of where the smart people focus their energies. In the sixties, it was decided we would put a man on the moon. We threw money at the problem, and produced a glut of rocket scientists. In the eighties and nineties, computer technology was fed enormous sums of money by the stock market, and smart people focused their energies on designing hardware and software, and with the result that today my cell phone has more memory than I do. There is a lot of money today flowing into health care, but only a fraction of this money goes to research of any given disease. I'd like to invite you to increase the fraction going to breast cancer research, both due to my personal connection to the cause, and because I think that this is the right moment in history to truly make a difference. I firmly believe this is a disease than can be cured within our lifetime. I don't know if one day we will simply swallow a magic pill and be healed, but I do know that the day will come when we will be able to profile any cancer cell and match it with the appropriate drug to wipe it out.
To help bring this day closer, if only by a minute or two, I'd like to announce my "Books for Breasts" promotion. Anyone who contributes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation through the "Team Dragon" fundraising page will get a free signed copy of Dragonseed.
You can contribute to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer foundation by clicking here. This will take you to my personal fundraising page; just click the button that says "support James." Then, to get your signed copy of Dragonseed, just email me your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org. I've set aside 50 copies for this cause; if I give them all away by the end of July, I'm pretty sure I can get my hands on another 50.
I've set up a modest goal of raising $300* through this promotion. This means I need to average contributions of $6, which is less than you'd pay for the book on Amazon. However, I'll send you a book for a contribution in any amount, even if it's just a buck. Spend a buck, get a book, save some breasts. Who's with me?
*Okay, I obviously seriously underestimated the generosity of my readers. I hit $300 in under 24 hours. So, I'm going to raise my goal to $1000. Thank you to everyone who's given so far, and everyone who has helped spread the word via blogs and twitter. If I run out of books, I've had some interest from other writers in contributing their books to the cause. I'll keep you posted if it comes to this.