Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Haley Reading Group: “Of Mothers and Monkeys”



[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2018)]

In “Of Mothers and Monkeys,” Caitlin Kuehn details the journey of watching her mother battle cancer while she conducts medical research on monkeys. Kuehn struggles with a question of ethics and morals while trying to decipher how much research should be conducted on animals, even for the purpose of medical research that could potentially save someone like her mother.

Kuehn writes, “it is hard to remind myself that medical research has a purpose. Some days it is as clear as cancer. Some days I just do not know” (152). She compares the needles, procedures, and panic her mom endures to the way the monkeys are treated in her medical research facility. Although she is torn about the ethical questions, she settles for the idea of having more time with her mother on earth.

In brief, what’s one question you would now raise as a result of reading this article? How did this article prompt you to raise that question?

38 comments:

Alexis R. Austin said...

My question would be why is cancer still such a big thing in the world? We as humans claim the world to be ours but we can't seem to control what it does to us. With all the research for the cure for cancer, why hasn't anyone actually found it? With the claims that there has been a cure found but it hasn't been put into use considering people are still dying from it. My question is why are people still dying because of cancer?

Jaydyn Z. said...

My question is what are some other alternatives to conducting research on animals? Are these alternatives more ethical, or are there still some dilemmas? The author seems to struggle with her ethical beliefs, and I would like to hear of some alternatives from her perspective. Additionally, are these alternatives as accurate and beneficial?

Anonymous said...

My question would be by why haven't researchers put in more of an effort to find the cure for cancer? We hear all the stories about how the cures have actually been found but the person who found it always seems to just fall off the face of the earth and we're right back at square one. If we continue to spend millions of dollars on research efforts, were just going to put the United States in more debt and who knows where that will lead us.-S.B.

Kayla Person said...

Knowing animals have feelings just like us, why do we continue to test and conduct research on them? This article prompts me to raise this question because even though Caitlin has injected animals thousands of times, she feels completely different when she must do the same to her mother. It does seem like she has conflicting feeling about animal research.

Arielle Stallworth said...

One question this article left me with was, "Why are people not allowed to operate on friends and family when it comes to the medical field?"

-This question arose when she is in the hospital and she is seeing her mother struggling through her "chemo-cocktail" and wants so bad to touch her, I'm presuming she means to be able to help, but all she san say from the other side of the room is "You're going to be okay." As wells when she says, "I have done this 5,000 times... but now I am shuttering nervous". Are people not allowed to operate on the people they love because they may freeze up or do too much because of who it is? Or is there another reason?

Alleson Huntspon said...

As I read this article I came up with the question why is euthanasia ethical for animals and they can’t even give verbal consent. But it’s not ethical for humans when they can verbally partake in it . The procedure takes lives of animals and I feel like this just isn’t right. Taking any life due to testing isn’t right overall.

Unknown said...

Why don't we use modern technology to stop things like animal testing and cancer? The narrators mother was going through serious pain and suffering and the only thing they did was keep giving her more treatments hoping she would get better. The animal testing that Caitlin does is brutal, just like the condition her mother is in is brutal, and we have the technology to stop both, its just weird how we haven't used modern technology to get to and end
-Layden Dukes

Kaelyn Cupil said...

In brief, what’s one question you would now raise as a result of reading this article? How did this article prompt you to raise that question?

Are animal trials really needed? Why is animal life put below human life? If people really want this treatment, they should put their faith in the treatment and go on and use themselves at the test. The animal testing in the text isn't even humane, so an animal who doesn't even know why they're being tested on shouldn't be put through it; a human who knows exactly what's going on should. They know the stakes and they should be okay with it.

Vanessa H. said...

From reading this story I’m very curious how the writer was able to evoke so many emotions through this writing. This entire passage, although very specific to the narrators life, brought out many relatable relationships. Towards the end of the passage the narrator discusses all the little things she loves about her mother. This immediately brought me to the reality of my life making connections. It’s easy to get lost in the little details of a story but to me a good writing piece makes you think about much more than what you just read.
Vanessa H.

Jalen White said...

How is experimenting on animals a commonplace practice? I firmly believe that animal testing is quite horrific. You would think that after all of these technological advances, there would be more humane options for testing out medicine and other products. Domingo was exposed to a terrible fate, all due to tests that his mother, not him, went through. I understand that something as huge as finding the cure for cancer, but at what cost? It's so inhumane that I cannot imagine anybody still thinking that this practice is acceptable.

Jalen W.

Terence Jones said...

I feel as though we have become so much more advanced as a society, but we are still relying on animal testing and research to test products and new cures. With the new revelations of technology that have been developed each year there must be some alternatives to testing on any kind of life. Heartbreaking that daughter was having a moral conflict within herself of injecting her mother. - Terence J.

Brooke Harris said...

My question would be is there software that scientists can use in order to simulate illnesses like cancer so that it can be treated in order to prevent things like animal testing. Another question is that with all the fundraisers and such that raise awareness and money for research like this, is that money being used for the possibility of that software. The fact that in a sense humans desensitize to the idea of terminal illness and can do experiments regarding hurting something we deem "similar to humans" because we feel no emotional connection to is very frightening.

Tyler Bean-Catencamp said...

I think that my question would have to be "Why is animal testing, such as the one described in the article, even legal?". The way the article described the testing that took place is brutal. Why is it allowed? The article told us what really happens inside a lab with animals as test subjects. With how it was portrayed, it's nearing the line of animal cruelty.

-Tyler B.C.

William Shanklin said...

One question that came to mind while I read through this passage is, for how long are humans going to test on animals even though we are much more advanced in technology than in previous decades? This question came to mind due to the mother testing on monkeys, although I do not see a problem with testing on animals before human tests, I feel like due to the technological innovations, society should be able to find another way to preform tests rather than using animals. - William Shanklin

Bria B said...

My question from this article is that "Why is cancer still so prominent?" We live in a world full of research and theories, so why isn't there a cure? Why must we as humans tolerate this unjustice when there is so much "hidden" money to find something to at least reduce it or close to a cure. This is our planet and there are various resources so why not just try out scientific methods but try experimenting with what the Earth has given us? The resources are right here. We continue to put millions of dollars for scientific research for cancer but where's the proof? Where are the answers? It's just a waste if nothing is truly getting done.

Eboni G. said...

How does working in a profession where testing on animals change someone's perspective or regard for animals? The article prompted this question due to the narrator's mention that they're the most reliable of the assistants. Also the narrator talking about their first few experiences and how they handled them.

Nia Marshall said...

After reading this article "Of Mothers and Monkeys", by Caitlin Kuehn its' left me with the question of where the cut off is for our morals in general. The author mentions many similarities between her mothers sickness and her career with researcher with cats and monkeys. Her mother is sick and in pain, and undergoing treatment. However, these animals are showing intelligence, they feel pain. So why are researchers still subjecting them to such pain for understanding. That's one question I would like to understand.- N.M

Charlie Brown said...

The question that I have after reading this article is why are we still running tests on animals in this day in age? As humans, we have come up with and invented all kinds of machines, software, and simulators that could possibly replace the practice of using animals as test subjects.

Unknown said...

After reading the article Like so many others the question I'm left asking is, Is there an alternative to animal testing. I'm not an animal activist and I do not believe animal lives are equivalent to human live; however, I do believe that animal testing (especially to this magnitude) is inhumane.
-Jacqueline Smith

Kevin P said...

After reading my question would be "what was exactly being experimented with the animals?" because in a bio class that I have taken in the past scientists have a sort of hierarchy when experimenting on animals and usually like to withhold for using house pets and primates unless it is extremely important. It seemed that it involved cancer research but was research the only reason available that these animals being euthanized?

Keaira C. said...

From this article I can takeaway that there are many commonalities in medications, approaches and dealing with red flag procedures between animals and humans. I believe that when handling animals, affection and ensuring care is important for the human to animal connection. The author, Kuehn, shows that there is still a need for care and intimacy with animals, comforting them when you expect them to be in fear (pg.154), but this article does somewhat imply that there is more gentleness and support in human interactions in medical situations, especially when it comes to people we love and care about (which makes sense).
But the real difference between working with humans and animals, seems to be humans having the ability to physically show emotion (with facial expressions), and to vocalize discomfort/pain when in medical situations. This leaves me with the question of why aren’t we doing more to address that animals do have emotions and feelings like us, and why do we train students working in medical animal research to maintain distance and non-attachment? We should be working on more ways to learn and safely experiment with animals, not getting used to death just because we expect experimental failure.
-Keaira Cox

Deja Lane said...

My question is "Why can't cancer genes be prevented?". Caitlin mentions how her mom's dad had cancer and now her mom has cancer and it's probably genetic. I feel that with the technology we have today, we should be able to prevent genes associated with diseases that we can pass on to our biological children.
-Deja Lane

William Akpan said...

After reading this, I would ask how they think it would be best to educate the public about animal testing. In situations where animals are being tested on in order to find a cure for something as I can see where the scientist would have to do something that is distasteful in order to benefit the greater good. I would want to learn more about the conditions these animals are kept under, and if euthanasia is only used when absolutely necessary.
-William A.

Shamon Seals said...

Based on all of the technology that we have today, "Why haven't we found a way to simulate tests of cures and vaccines using computer software instead of humans and animals. Caitlin has injected animals over thousands of times and has potentially killed them. Although animals cannot give consent, they have feelings too. Using technology would reduce both human and animal deaths from experiments and research.

Anonymous said...

After reading this article, my question stems from the perception of morality as it relates to testing on animals. Overall, animal testing has a very negative connotation due to an animals innocence and lack of say in medical situations as mentioned; however, this article made me think of possible alternatives to yielding the same types of information by using more ethical practices. This article prompted me to compare medical testing on animals to the testing of beauty products on animals- although both are inhumane, one seems more promising in regard to the future well-being of humans. Similar to other questions posted, I also wonder how have collective efforts from numerous countries only resulted in chemotherapy, radiation and preventative measures as forms of treatment?

Madison M.

Evan Senat said...

The question I pose is why must cancer patients be subjected to such harsh, painful, and almost medieval methods of treatment? With all of our technological advancements, how have we not created a reliable treatment with little to no side effects for cancer patients? Not only does it exacerbate the suffering of cancer patients, but it also makes it very hard for the patient's family and friends to watch their loved ones suffering in the hopes of being cured. -Evan S.

Torian henry said...

The questions I have is, what alternative do we have to testing research on animals, are there any humans that will be first in line to be test dummies? The conflict I had with this is that medical ethics play a huge role in how we test possible groundbreaking research on animals and people. I understand that humans have made great strides in the medical technology but I think there our steps when it comes to designing research and there will always be tough waters where side affects will be aggressive and may not have positive results.
-Torian H

Anonymous said...

My question from this article is at what point does a profession like this desensitize you to death in general and the motives of others.

From reading the article the author seems to address most situations pragmatically instead of with emotion. Even the initial instance of her mother saying that she is doing treatment for her because she loves her and her sister that much. She is initially upset that she is the catalyst for her mother's preservation. It must be hard when you are constantly bombarded with life and death to separate the scientist from the person. Chris W.

Kendall Dow said...

After reading this article, one thing that came to concern is the mother. Are women more emotionally attached to their children and why. Is it because the pain that they went through to deliver the baby or does it have to do witht the stereotype that women are more emotional than men.

Anonymous said...

My question would be why do we continue to run these test on animals if we wouldn't do the same ones on humans. Animals have rights and feelings just as much as we do so why harm them? This article leads me to this question because although she is trying to save her mother these animals are going through a lot. -Mikayla Kinnard

Laurel White said...

is the test of animals really accurate? Instead of using machines and any other things for human testing's. See if the animals testing's really work. I love animals so therefore for them to be test subjects you can see which tests work on them and which doesn't. It shows what happens inside a lab and how they get treated. -laurel white

Anonymous said...

Why do we subsidize medicine, I was thinking maybe if we somehow forced companies into competition we’d get better medicines rather than them getting an absurd amount of money anyways. Like Formula One, the competition forces the manufacturers to step up their game if they want to win the championship and the prize money at the end to gain a edge next year. At least America isn’t as bad as say Britain or Canada who basically doesn’t create medicine at all because it’s all subsidized which is probably why according to nhs.uk, “NHS patients are 45% more likely to die than patients in the US. The Telegraph says that data "over more than 10 years found NHS mortality rates were among the worst of those in seven developed countries". However, just because we are good doesn’t mean we can’t be better, what triggered that thought from the article was the fact that they are struggling to contain her moms cancer and her mothers father already died from it and they didn’t stop it sooner. Like I have said before, more competition leads to accelerated progression in technology and practices and potentially lower cost while subsidization leads to stagnation, when you are guaranteed income (or cant afford to improve) you won’t improve. It is why technology rockets during war. - Curtis G.

Carah F. said...

Why do parents make their children their reason to push forward in times of distress? The author’s mother said, “Your sister and you are why I need to keep fighting. I love you both so much.” Why would you tell your children that when you are dying? While I understand it’s meant to be a motivator and some sort of reassurance that things will get better. However, if you were to die, you kids will feel as if they weren’t enough to fight for. I feel like that’s extremely selfish. Both groups are emotionally vulnerable, and it would be too much handle.
- Carah F.

I'Lysa Walker said...

What I would like to understand is how subjecting the animals through experiments where even the healthy animals are put down is ethical? We cannot handle the idea of loved ones dying, yet we are willing to allow animals to endure torture that we take hand in. Why should Big Mamma's life be "defined by her maternal moniker" (156)? Why should Big Mamma be put down for not being able to devote herself to her child when humans fail at it too? We are selfish of our own wellbeing; however, we go about slaughtering animals.

Anonymous said...

After reading this article, one thing that came to concern is the mother. Are women more emotionally attached to their children and why. Is it because the pain that they went through to deliver the baby or does it have to do witht the stereotype that women are more emotional than men. - Kendall D

Christopher Yancey said...

How can the author still be brave enough to continue her work with animals while her mom is fighting for her life? Her work is literally on the other side of the hospital, she had encounters with her mom going through sever reactions when she is rarely attending these procedures. Is the author not that worried that she would not be able to know if something as bad as her mother losing her fight in the same building and she probably wont know for hours due the her already working in a mildly emotionally stressful laboratory.

Noah Jones said...

I wonder after reading this why don't we have better treatments that aren't harmful than Chemotherapy. I understand what it does and why it is used, it is just difficult to accept that this is really the best treatment that we have. I hope to see one day soon a treatment that works better and isn't so hard on the bodies of the people suffering with cancer. - Noah Jones

Abdul Nelson said...

The question I have is why is there a proper treatment for cancer yet. When I reading this article I was thinking, scientist have been at this for years. They have done many test on animal but yet, they can't find something to stop the cancer. What's the point of doing all this research if we are going to continue to get the same result. With all the technology we have in our current society we should have been found a treatment other than chemotherapy. Through our discovery for looking for a cure we have affected many different animals and what's the reasoning behind that.