Journalist Patricia Prijatel and her family built a tiny cabin in a remote Colorado mountain valley where they embraced the silent, the wild, and the beautiful—until June 2013 and the East Peak Fire. Their cabin survived, but their woodlands became a burn-scarred landscape of splintered trunks and blackened branches.

After the fire, the ruin of the land and its people grew: flash floods on eroded land, invasive weeds crowding out grass and seedlings, hurricane-level winds breaking healthy trees, dangerous orphaned animals, toxic air, and stress leading to life-threatening diseases, including a second diagnosis of triple-negative breast cancer.

Burn Scars: A Memoir of the Land and Its Loss follows Prijatel and her family through six years of living in a changed ecosystem. It’s the story of a love of the land, of hope challenging despair, of climate grief, and the birth of a climate warrior. With searing honesty, Prijatel chronicles an unprecedented transition for America’s natural forests, the life they nurture, and the people witnessing their tragic loss. Her story serves as a love song, a warning, and a glimpse of the future we’ll all navigate as climate change remakes the places we’ve loved. It’s also a call to fight for a priceless treasure we can still preserve—if we act now.

“An honest and vulnerable meditation on the trauma of life in contemporary Colorado, put to the page with uncommon grace and insight. Prijatel is a compassionate guide in exploring that chaotic time. Most important, she offers hope for recovery and resilience.”
Laura Pritchett, Author, Sky Bridge, winner of the WILLA Award

“An elegy and a wake-up call. Prijatel writes a deeply personal and wrenching story of loss that touches us all. Like fire, her memoir is a reckoning that urges us to examine our priorities and recognize our first allegiance is to the earth, our one true home.” Karen Auvinen, Author, Rough Beauty: Forty Seasons of Mountain Living.

“A moving meditation on our connection to the land, and a potent wake up call to the devastating effects of climate change.”Tanja Pajevic, Author, The Secret Life of Grief, winner of Nautilus Silver Award”

“An important story. Prijatel chronicles her personal journey of loss and climate grief that touches our collective experience. But it is also a story of healing, for as we face this crisis, we are challenged to discover a resilience within ourselves and in the generative power of nature.” Leslie Davenport, Author, Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change.

Buy Burn Scars: A Memoir of the Land and Its Loss on Amazon

Get an autographed copy directly from the author.

From a News Release from ChristianaCare’s Cawley Center for Translational Cancer Research 

While radiation is successfully used to treat breast cancer by killing cancer cells, inflammation caused as a side-effect of radiation can have a contrary effect by promoting the survival of triple-negative breast cancer cells, according to research published online in the International Journal of Radiation Biology by Jennifer Sims-Mourtada, Ph.D., director of Translational Breast Cancer Research at ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Accounting for 15-20% of all breast cancers, triple-negative breast cancer is faster growing than other types of breast cancers.

Dr. Sims-Mourtada’s latest study shows that inflammation caused by radiation can trigger stem-cell-like characteristics in non-stem TNBC cells.

“This is the good and the bad of radiation,” Dr. Sims-Mourtada said. “We know radiation induced inflammation can help the immune system to kill tumor cells — that’s good — but also it can protect cancer stem cells in some cases, and that’s bad.”

She added, “What’s exciting about these findings is we’re learning more and more that the environment the tumor is in – its microenvironment – is very important. Historically, research has focused on the genetic defects in the tumor cells. We’re now also looking at the larger microenvironment and its contribution to cancer.”

Triple-negative breast cancer cells don’t have estrogen or progesterone receptors and also don’t make too much of the protein called HER2—cells test “negative” on all 3 tests. These cancers tend to be more common in women under age 40, who are African-American, Latina or who have a BRCA1 mutation. But older women, caucasian, those with no family history of breast cancer, and no genetic mutations can be affected.

“My work focuses on cancer stem cells and their origination,” Dr. Sims-Mourtada said. “They exist in many cancers, but they’re particularly elusive in triple-negative breast cancer. Their abnormal growth capacity and survival mechanisms make them resistant to radiation and chemotherapy and help drive tumor growth.”

She and her team applied radiation to triple-negative breast cancer stem cells and to non-stem cells. In both cases, they found radiation induced an inflammatory response that activated the Il-6/Stat3 pathway, which plays a significant role in the growth and survival of cancer stem cells in triple-negative breast cancers. They also found that inhibiting STAT3 blocks the creation of cancer stem cells. As yet unclear is the role IL-6/STAT3 plays in transforming a non-stem cell to a stem-cell.
For women living in Delaware, Dr. Sims-Mourtada’s research is especially urgent: The rates of triple-negative breast cancer in the state are the highest nationwide.

Dr. Sims-Mourtadato recently received a grant to continue investigating the role of cells immediately around a tumor in spurring the growth of triple-negative breast cancer and a possible TNBC-specific therapy.“Our next step is to understand the inflammatory response and how we might inhibit it to keep new cancer stem cells from developing,” she said.

Her research team previously identified an anti-inflammatory drug, currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, that has the potential to target and inhibit the growth of cancer stem cells and triple-negative breast cancer tumors. That research could set the stage for clinical investigation of the drug, alone or in combination with chemotherapy, to improve outcomes for patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

From A News Release from Science Daily
Brazilian researchers have developed a strategy that slows the growth of triple negative breast cancer cells by cutting them off from two major food sources.
Triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC, makes up approximately 15% to 20% of all breast cancers and is most common in African American women. These tumors lack estrogen and progesterone receptors and HER2 protein which are present in other breast cancers and permit certain targeted therapies. And because every TNBC tumor has a different genetic makeup, finding new markers that could guide treatment has been a difficult task.
“There is intense interest in finding new medications that can treat this kind of breast cancer,” said Sandra Martha Gomes Dias, a cancer researcher at the Brazilian Biosciences National Laboratory in Campinas, Brazil. “TNBC is considered to be more aggressive and have a poorer prognosis than other types of breast cancer, mainly because there are fewer targeted medicines that treat TNBC.”
In a new study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Dias and colleagues demonstrate that in addition to glutamine, a well-known cancer food source, TNBC cells can use fatty acids to grow and survive. When inhibitors that block both glutamine and fatty acid metabolism were used in concert, TNBC growth and migration slowed, Dias said.
To maintain their ability to grow at a breakneck pace, cancer cells consume nutrients at an increased rate. Glutamine, which is the most abundant amino acid in plasma, is one of them. Some types of cancer become heavily reliant on this versatile molecule as it offers energy, carbon, nitrogen, and antioxidant properties, all of which support tumor growth and survival, Dias said.
The drug Telaglenastat, also known as CB-839, prevents the processing of glutamine and is currently in clinical trials to treat TNBC and other tumor types. CB-839 works by deactivating the enzyme glutaminase, preventing cancer cells from breaking down and reaping the benefits of glutamine. However, recent research has shown that some TNBC cells can resist the drug treatment.
To see if alterations in gene expression could explain how these cells survive, the authors of the study exposed TNBC cells to CB-839, defined those that were resistant and those that were sensitive to the drug, and sequenced their RNA, Dias said.
In the resistant cells, molecular pathways related to the processing of lipids were highly altered, Dias said. In particular, levels of the enzymes CPT1 and CPT2, which are critical for fatty acid metabolism, were increased.
“CPT1 and 2 act as gateways for the entrance of fatty acids into mitochondria, where they will be used as fuel for energy production,” Dias said. “Our hypothesis was that closing this gateway by inhibiting CPT1 in combination with glutaminase inhibition would decrease growth and migration of CB-839-resistant TNBC cells.”
The double inhibition proved significant as it slowed proliferation and migration in resistant TNBC cells more than individual inhibition of either CPT1 or glutaminase. These results provide new genetic markers that could better guide drug choice in patients with TNBC, Dias said.
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Improving metabolic factors may help improve survival in postmenopausal women with triple-negative breast cancer, according to research presented at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. These factors, which include weight gain, reduced activity and insulin resistance, can be an issue for women diagnosed with TNBC and may have serious repercussions for health overall. 
Researchers compared these factors, also called metabolic syndrome, with survival rates in women diagnosed with TNBC who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), enrolled from 1993 to 1998. 
The average time from enrollment to TNBC diagnosis was 8.6 years; women with the most metabolic components had a significantly shorter time (7 years) to diagnosis than those without any metabolic syndrome components (9.8 years). Women with TNBC and 3 to 4 metabolic components had 10-year all-cause survival rates 35% lower than TNBC survivors with no metabolic syndrome components.
• 29% of the women (178 patients) had no metabolic syndrome components.
• 53% had 1 to 2 components (323 patients).
• 7% had 3 to 4 components (43 patients). 
• Those with the most metabolic syndrome components were often black. 
• Patients with income under $50,000 a year were more likely to have a greater number of metabolic components. 
The conclusion: Greater attention should be given to issues such as weight gain, physical activity, and insulin levels. 
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I just got a news release from the University of Connecticut about gene splicing and how that can lead to triple-negative breast cancer. It’s the beginning of what could be promising research for a targeted therapy for TNBC.

BUT, in the middle of the release is this utterly outrageous sentence:

Triple negatives are the worst breast cancers: they have the highest rates of metastasis, worst prognosis, and no targeted treatments. 

My edit

Triple negative breast cancer can be more aggressive than hormone-positive cancer, but it responds well to chemotherapy. Metastatic TNBC so far has no targeted treatment.

Later in the release, they call TNBC “this most dreaded form of breast cancer.”

I am livid! This is irresponsible and wrong. I was diagnosed in June 2006, 13.5 years ago. I had a second cancer in June 2015, 4.5 years ago. I’m doing fine. I didn’t like the experience, but I survived, as do most women with TNBC. 

Aurghhhhh. 

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WE HAVE A WINNER! CHECK OUT THE PUBLISHED BOOK ON AMAZON.

Can you help me choose the best title and subtitle for my upcoming memoir on the aftermath of a wildfire? The titles are all illustrated below, but I am not married to any design or photograph at this point. To vote, just leave the number of your preference in the comments. I’d love to hear your rationale, if you care to share, but that’s not essential. I’m not asking about design yet, but that will come in the next step. If something especially trips your trigger here, though, let me know. Here’s background on the book; it also explains the meaning of “burn scars.”

  1. Burn Scars. An Insider’s View of Climate Grief: After the wildfire came the floods, devastating winds, invasive plants, extreme heat, stressed animals, and anxious humans.
  2. Burn Scars: After the Wildfire. Then came the floods, winds, weeds, cancer, loss of wildlife, fear stress, grief. And the bear.
  3. Burn Scars: A Memoir of the Land and its Loss
  4. Burn Scars: A Memoir of Land, Loss, and Grief
  5. After the Forest Burns: The Wildfire Was Just the Beginning
  6. To Heal Our Wounded Mountain. After the Fire Burns, (With review blurb on cover.)
  7. Burn Scars: A Insider Look at Climate Grief. After the wildfire came the floods, winds, weeds, stressed animals, and anxious humans.
  8. Burn Scars: An Insider’s View of Climate Grief. After the wildfire came the floods, winds, weeds, cancer, loss of wildlife, fear stress, grief. And the bear.
  9. After the Forest Burns. An Insider’s View of Climate Grief

In an extensive survey of more than a million cases of breast cancer diagnosed between 2010 and 2014, researchers have reaffirmed that triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is most likely to affect black and Hispanic women and women younger than 40. This is nothing new, but the large number of the group studied gives significant support to previous research. According to the study, published in the journal Cancer, 8.4 percent of all cases were triple-negative, a smaller number than in previous research that showed that 10-20 percent of all breast cancer cases were TNBC. READ MORE

Thanks, Louise Penny, for reminding us of what’s warm, 
welcoming and a bit silly.
It’s usually winter in Three Pines, a village hidden in a forested Canadian valley somewhere between Quebec City and Montreal. The enchanting hamlet doesn’t actually exist, although it should, and many of us prefer to think it does. Author Louise Penny created this tiny burg out of her imagination and bits and pieces of the Eastern Townshipsof Quebec, Canada, just north of the Vermont border.

Having read all of Penny’s books about this quirky but welcoming place, I understand why Penny seldom sets her stories in spring or summer.  The frigid Canadian weather allows the residents to gather around fires in the bistro or in the home of one friend or another, to share bowls of steaming soup and fresh bread, to demonstrate physical and emotional warmth and, of course, to help the wise and indestructible Chief Inspector Armand Gamache work out his latest mystery.

The warmth is more potent when pitted against intense cold. The light is stronger when compared with the dark. And it’s easy to overlook that Penny writes a good deal about evil and violence because those become just dark shadows in an otherwise hospitable world. The mystery part of her novels is incidental. We’re there for the people.

The hub of Three Pines  is the village green around which the bistro, bookstore, bakery and B&B are all grouped and where the three trees grow, within walking distance of the homes of the oddball inhabitants: Ruth, the renowned poet who nurtures nothing but her foul-mouthed duck; Myrna, a retired psychologist who owns the cozy bookstore; Clara, the artist whose work is far more complicated than it appears; Gabri and Olivier who run the bistro and B&B, gay men who have found a home in this tolerant town; and Armand and his wife Reine-Marie, who adore one another 35-plus years into marriage.

The group meets often for meals and drinks and problem-solving, often related to crimes, often related to their personal lives, always related to food. Book by book, these characters become closer to one another, grow more fully themselves, and build a community too delightful to be real, although readers can dream.

Travel bureaus in the Eastern Townships know a winner when they see it, and they provide mapsweb sites, and formal tours of favorite places in the Gamache novels. The bistro where the gang meets? It could be one of several in Knowlton. The church where the body of the mysterious debt collector was found? It’s just outside Sutton. The monastery where Gamache investigated the death of the music director? It’s the gorgeous Abbaye De St-Benoit-Du-Lac, or St. Benedicts on Lake Memphremagog.  Try to say that with a mouth full of brioche. READ MORE.