For my STEAM project, I decided to compare cancer and its unrelenting growth to the concept of love and its infinite ability to grow. In its simplest form, mitosis is a process that allows cells to reproduce and replace damaged or dead cells. Without it, every living organism would cease to exist. With it, every living organism simultaneously faces the reality of mitotic error and its consequences- cancer. The key idea of mitosis becoming a negative process in a certain cell is that when a cell has defects at one of the checkpoints (Levine et al.,2018). This could cause the cell to have aneuploidy, a characteristic of cancer that is present in 70% of human cancers, meaning that they have the wrong number of chromosomes (Levine et al.,2018). More specifically, one of the sources of aneuploidy is error at the spindle assembly checkpoint, where the spindle assembles and the cells are sure to check whether everything is paired properly (Funk et. al., 2016). Another example of a cause of aneuploidy is lagging chromosomes, which is the event of some chromosome staying behind when the rest separate and go to each pole of thecell. This causes aneuploidy because it contributes to the rare occasion that all the chromatids don’t separate correctly during mitosis. While this explains the mechanism in which mitosis can go wrong, what could prompt these changes? Many factors can cause mitosis to cause aneuploidy in a cell. These include environmental factors such as asbestos and other carcinogens, and occasionally mutating genes (Hammerhoff, 2004). 

These several errors in mitosis can lead to different outcomes in the cell, including cell death, disease, and unchecked/increased growth. The outcome of increased growth leads to what we understand as cancer (Thompson, 2020;Hammeroff, 2004). On a more positive and optimistic note, the understanding that scientific research possesses today gives us a bright outlook on making headway in the treatment of cancer. With the knowledge that the reason some cells become cancerous is due to mitotic error, we have the incredible ability to figure out treatments that are both less toxic and more effective at inhibiting mitosis that is heading in a dangerous direction.

The idea of unchecked growth in the body is paralleled in our societal idea of the concept of love. The moment I could understand her (and probably before that), my Mom instilled in me that your heart always has room for more love, more room for growth. No matter how much I grow as a person and no matter how much love I have for the people around me, there is always room for more. The painting shows an anatomical heart with many non anatomical hearts surrounding it. This ismeant to represent an unlimited amount of love flowing out of the heart. Although there is some irony in comparing this to cancer as they have opposite connotations, they both show the concept of unchecked growth in a unique way. They also possess a strong juxtaposition of outcomes. While cancer isusually considered a negative outcome, unlimited love and personal growth can only lead to increased happiness and fulfillment.


Works Cited

Levine, M. S., & Holland, A. J. (2018). The impact of mitotic errors on cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. Genes & development, 32(9-10), 620-638.

Funk, L. C., Zasadil, L. M., & Weaver, B. A. (2016). Living in CIN: mitotic infidelity and its consequences for tumor promotion and suppression. Developmental cell, 39(6), 638-652.

Thompson, Noelle. (2020, November 19). What Happens When Mitosis Goes Wrong and in Which Phase Will It Go Wrong?. Retrieved from

Hameroff, S. R. (2004). A new theory of the origin of cancer: quantum coherent entanglement, centrioles, mitosis, and differentiation. Biosystems, 77(1-3), 119-136.

One Comment

  1. For Megahn’s STEAM project she compared cancers ability to grow rapidly to the concept of love and its infinite ability grow. I absolutely love this STEAM project and the idea in its entirety. From the artwork she drew, to the research, and her final paper. The way she is able to bond these two ideas to make a moving piece of work just wows me. In my humble opinion I think she knocked out of the park with her STEAM project, to the point where I wish I would have done something similar. Not only does she an excellent job in comparison to the social aspects of the growth of love and how cancer grows. She also did a wonderful job at explaining the details of how cancer does spread and the process that goes into it. From the excellent examples in detail of how cancer grows through the errors of splitting of chromosomes or of the lack of splitting from a chromosome. She also shows us how cancer is not only caused by our own bodies but by how external environmental factors can cause a role in contracting cancer. The best part of this piece is the very end however. She is able to the horrible effect of cancer to how we are able to grow our love for people to the point of infinity. Which if cancer had its away and way able too would do the same. For most of us, we have known someone with, battled, or died from cancer. So being able to example the facts of how it is grown and being able to tie it to the concept of love. Shows we should not be afraid of cancer, but also showing in a scary way.

    Tyler Whitmire

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