Today, July 13th (I’m still up y’all) is Geekness Day or “Embrace Your Geekness Day” – what better excuse for a quick post on why I am TheCancerGeek (my current username on the internet). I actually didn’t know about this geek celebration day until SingleHop (a cloud hosting company) contacted some geeky bloggers including me, and gave us a couple of prompts for a post on geekdom.
“What makes me a geek?”
My journey into cancer geekdom started as a freshman in college, now almost 10 years ago, when I took a non-majors cancer biology course where I got a taste of basic cancer cell biology, and some insight into certain causes of cancer like genetic factors, environmental causes or oncogenic viruses (HPV and the like).
Fast forward to today. Geekyness about a scholarly topic means a deep and broad interest into something complex yet fascinating and you don’t care whether others share this obsession. To me cancer biology fits that definition – both something that is intrinsically interesting and yet a major societal problem to be involved with finding solutions to.
Even though in the lab, I study a very particular aspect of targeting inflammatory breast cancer, my overall cancer geekiness makes me seem a bit unfocused at times. I love reading about other aspects of cancer biology that span other disease contexts as well – how treatments have evolved over time, new areas of discovery in cancer immunotherapy, cancer metabolism, mechanisms of cancer cell plasticity, genetic screens for new combinatorial strategies etc. The research seems endless at times! I probably spend much longer than the average post doc reading both clinical papers and more translational articles about many topics. One of things I do in my “free” time is volunteer as a science advocate in 2 facebook groups run by the IBC Network. I love being challenged by members to explain something in lay terms, debunk badly written articles about research and especially love it if I’m asked a tough question that I don’t know the answer to — great excuse to go to pubmed or UpToDate and figure it out. Usually I learn more than what I set out to figure out (after all, that is truly what graduate level training is about – not simply knowing a set of facts about the problem you studied). And that’s how it goes when you are a geek – digging and digging yet some more.
“Favorite geek quote”
Confession: I am a quote collector! A few that I like about geeks/geekyness:
“Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter.” (Marissa Mayer)
“Being a geek is a great thing. I think we’re all geeks. Being a geek means you’re passionate about something and that defines your uniqueness. I would rather be passionate about something than be apathetic about everything.” (Masi Oka)
“If your culture doesn’t like geeks, you are in real trouble” (Bill Gates)
“Who is my geek role model?”
I would say none other than Dr Sally Church, of Pharma Strategy Blog (and founder of Icarus Consultants). Like me Sally has broad interests in oncology and it is really fun to discuss new research papers and talks from conferences with her. Even when she admits breast cancer is not her favorite disease site 😉 Not to mention Sally is a discerning user of the latest Apple technology like me! 🙂 #GeeksRule!