The Panacea Project tells the story of Calla Hammond, a young woman who discovers that her immune system can cure cancer. She agrees to take part in a groundbreaking research study, but finds herself caught in the middle of a global frenzy when word about the study gets leaked to the press.
It’s an unfortunate truth that nearly everyone knows someone who has battled cancer or has battled it themselves. I am no different. Ten years ago this May, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had surgery to remove the tumor. The day I brought him home from the hospital, I learned that a close friend from high school had been diagnosed with stage 4 gastric cancer and was in hospice. She died a few days later. The one-two punch of her death and my husband’s diagnosis left me reeling.
When the pathology report on my husband’s tumor came back, it brought welcome news. His cancer was stage 1 and there was no evidence of spread. His oncologist recommended surveillance (scans and blood work every few months), but no chemotherapy or radiation. Eighteen months later, though, the cancer recurred, this time in an abdominal lymph node. My husband underwent proton radiation therapy to treat it and has been cancer-free ever since. We were incredibly lucky. His cancer was detected early (both times), it was highly treatable, and we had access to some of the best medical care in the United States. But the experience was harrowing and I drew on many parts of it when Calla’s story started taking shape in my mind and on the page.
I was also inspired by real-life stories about medical miracles—like Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and the story of John Moore (whose spleen became the subject of a landmark lawsuit about whether a person retains property rights to an organ or other tissue after it is removed from their body)—which examine the implications of cutting-edge medical research for both the subjects of that research and the wider world. When the source of great innovation is the human body itself, who owns the rights to that knowledge? Who benefits financially? Who controls how the products such innovation are shared with others?
These were just some of the questions that propelled the writing of The Panacea Project—a fast-paced tale that explores issues like self-sacrifice and bodily autonomy and provides an intimate view of what might happen to the person whose body holds the key to curing one of the world’s most dreaded diseases. I would be honored if you picked up a copy and hope that Calla’s story resonates with you!
Calla Hammond has always been a loner—a product of the foster system and avoided by others because of a skin condition. When doctors discover her immune system holds the key to curing cancer, she struggles to advance lifesaving research in a world that sees her only as a means to an end. Yet along the way, Calla gains the one thing she has always longed for: a chosen family. But when a group of unscrupulous people join forces to sell Calla’s blood to the highest bidder, she has to dig deep to find the strength to retake control of her life, her body, and her story.
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group
Hard Cover: ISBN: 978-0-9858579-9-8; 304 pages; $24.95
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