The Precision Medicine Show: Episode 1 – TV’s Next Big Hit

By Diya Ramesh (‘23)

If you love WandaVision, enjoy the references made to it throughout this series. If not, pretend they’re not there!

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP! As usual, you wonder why alarm clocks haven’t yet been declared a form of cruel and unusual punishment. All the same, you slide out of bed, albeit very reluctantly. Bleary-eyed and half-asleep, you stumble into the bathroom to brush your teeth and get ready for school. Yup, it’s just another Monday. By 7:30, you’ve been perked up by the colossal power of caffeine and walk up to your best friend at their locker. You open your mouth to start a conversation, when they turn around, and you catch sight of their face. Your friend’s eyes are swollen and puffy, their face tear-stained and flushed in grief. You inquire what happened, and then they drop the bomb. Their beloved grandmother has died from her battle with cancer. Your friend idolized their grandmother, who was your friend’s entire world. You can feel your friend’s pain radiating off of them and wish to take it all away for them, but knowing that you can’t, you gloomily remark, “If only we had a cure for cancer!”

Wait a minute! Plot twist, because all of the events you just witnessed are part of a TV show. Thank goodness, because watching your friend suffer so much was really painful. So, let’s hit rewind on this TV show that is your hypothetical day. The key word here is “hypothetical”. Not all of us can create worlds that are the products of our magical powers. We can’t all be WandaVision, people. I digress. Anyway, let’s go back a bit and think about your statement. Why do we always refer to, discuss, and hope and wish for a cure for cancer. “A” implies singularity and that we are aiming for 1 cure to save the entire planet. In 2018 alone, 9.5 million people died from cancer, and the world faced 17.0 million new cases of the disease. Now, mentally conjure up the image of the last person you spoke to or saw. Think about how many differences there are between you both, how each of you are unique and distinct in various ways. The same definitely holds true for your health. So, how does that mentality of having one cure for a disease with such a widespread impact logically apply? Hint: It doesn’t. Based on the numbers alone, it is clearly illogical that one or even a few treatments will work for everyone with a disease. Furthermore, let’s not forget that cancer is not the only ailment that plagues humanity. There are so many other debilitating diseases and conditions to consider, as well. 

Now, the question of what we can do about this issue remains. Well, the answer’s name is “precision medicine”. Precision medicine is a form of healthcare, in which treatment and prevention methods are administered to a patient, based on their genetics, environment, and lifestyle. It was previously called “personalized medicine”, but this name was modified due to worries that people may misunderstand and believe that precision medicine involves actually creating treatment and prevention methods for each person, which is not what it is. Broadly speaking, precision medicine is about customizing these treatments and prevention strategies based on the aforementioned factors that are variable from person to person.

Now that you’ve gotten a little taste of the basic principle of precision medicine, it’s time to wrap up. Like any high-quality series, naturally, we end each episode on a cliffhanger. Yes, you can’t just binge all the episodes in one day, because we drop our episodes one-by-one. For your post-credits scene, just know that precision medicine has numerous benefits and… it’s facing a large problem, but we’ll save that for next time. Not all of us can formulate the nuanced subtleties that WandaVision sprinkles into its episodes. Finesse wasn’t accumulated in a day. Once again, I digress, but remember to stay tuned for the next episode of PrecisionMedicine

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