Having dome something special like, being the recipient of a $1.1 million dollar grant to develop cancer treatment involving lasers and nonparticles may seem like Hadiyah-Nicole Green is ‘special’er’ than the rest of but in fact, Green doesn’t feel like she’s more special than anyone else. In her own words “When opportunity found me, I was prepared.”
You see Hadiyah did something that most people who invent/things do: focus on themselves and their tangible surroundings and find solutions to problems though sometimes for themselves, ultimately work out for the world around them-despite how laser focused and selfish with themselves they may seem while in their process.
While the world around us is laser focused on adopting the how-tos of #relationshipgoals/ #squadgoals/ #friendshipgoals and other “goals” of lives of other people who in actuality and reality we know nothing about, the key word of it all is lost in self-identity and social media jargon, thus, getting its original dictionary definition diluted deep in hashtag drones in droves.
Once upon a time, a “goal” simply meant something one sets out to do or obtain and came with a start + expiry date with which that goal was to be obtained (or reinvented). Well given the nature of the fickleness of flesh, it’s quite hard to fathom how we place “goals” of obtaining lives and lifestyles ‘like’ that of people we don’t even know or have a personal rapport with—to even know the truth about how even they themselves are living behind these “goals” we set out to have like them. That being an overwhelmed digitally, trite case, I’m all for goals set out for the traditional way-and when I find that rare anomaly these days, I’m all ears.
You see when realistic goals-authentic and true to our own experiences are “the #goal” great things can happen.
Hadiyah Green earned a bachelors in physics with a concentration in fiberoptics. From there, she continued her education with a full scholarship to UAB. It was then that Hadiyah got the idea to use lasers to treat cancer without the side effects of chemo and radiation–having seen first hand the awful experience and opposite that, the refusal to be treated because of [the awful side effects].
Like gangrene, cancer was all around Green and plagued her two closest loved ones who (after the death of her own parents), were in charge of caring for her. This, in turn fueled her desire for wanting a cure for it (or at bare minimum) how to treat it-less the nearly equally harmful side effects that often times force cancer patients to elect to die it on out.
Such was the case of Hadiyah Green’s auntie, Ora Lee who, along with her husband, three months later, General Lee Smith, was diagnosed with cancer as well yet Ora Lee refused treatment after seeing the side effects of chemo and radiation treatment endured by her husband. “She refused the treatment because she didn’t want to experience the side effects. It was heartbreaking, but I could appreciate she wanted to die on her own terms.”
After taking some time off from school to help her uncle through chemo and radiation, she saw-first hand-how devastating it was and at that point, could respect her aunt’s decision to make the decision to die with cancer.
With a mission at and, Hadiyah went to work trying to find a way for cancer patients to be treated less the harmful side effects. Spending seven years during her master’s and doctoral programs at UAB, Hadiyah began to study developing a way to target cancer cells without bothering the healthy cells around them.
“I’m really hoping this can change the way we treat cancer in America. There are so many people who only get a three-month or six-month survival benefit from the drugs they take. Then three or six months later, they’re sent home with no hope, nothing else we can do. Those are the patients I want to try to save, the ones where regular medicine isn’t effective for them.”
With her desire, know-how, and vested, personal interest in finding a way for this to work as she envisioned it, a few months ago, she applied for, and was awarded a $1.1 million dollar grant to work on the technology that targets, images, and treats cancer.
“I was completely overwhelmed with joy, with thanksgiving, humbled at the opportunity that a group of my peers thought that my work was worthy for such a grant. This is a huge door opening. It outlines a path to take this treatment to clinical trial,” expressed Green.
This technology is an FDA-approved drug that contains nanoparticles and is injected into the cancer patient. Under imaging equipment, this causes the patient’s tumor to fluoresce (glow). Hadiyah’s goal is for the nanoparticles to be heated when the laser activates them.
“They are not toxic, so without the laser they won’t kill anything, and the laser by itself is harmless, so without the particles it won’t hurt anything. Because of their need to work together and their inability to work apart, I can ensure that the treatment is only happening to the cancer cells we target and identify.”
Sounds like a plan to me! Good for Hadiyah!
While we often hear (or adhere) to the redundancy of the words: “go to school, get good grades,” Hadiyah adhered to that and took it seriously, and too, feels a sense of responsibility to be an inspiring example of how black women do retard the growth of mounting, trite and typical stereotypes having all of nothing to do with education and science and instead, daily-are portrayed in the media one such way:
“People told me to make good grades and stay in school, and I always take good advice to heart. There are black female scientists who don’t get media exposure,” said Hadiyah.
“Because of that, young black girls don’t see those role models as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj. It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more than fashion and entertainment and music, even though arts are important.”
Although Hadiyah is putting the money where her hopeful ideas are, as well, she is pounding the pavement and putting a face on such an unusual thing having happened-in hopes of inspiring others.
While moving forward with her research and teaching at Tuskegee U, Green takes the time to attend speaking engagements at Boys & Girls Clubs, schools, and youth events, all the while having mentored several young women, many of whom have gone pursue degrees and occupations in science related fields.
“It takes a village to raise a child. I repeat that because a village of people helped raise me and instill values in me, and encouraged me to get to this point. I did not get here by myself. Because of that clarity, I know my responsibility to encourage and mentor the next generation.”
That being the case, Hadiyah says that whenever she receives an invitation to be a guest speaker for professional groups, non profs, and schools, she almost never declines the offer: “Usually if there is an invitation to speak at a forum like that, I accept it because I feel like it’s a responsibility. There are so few of us (black women in STEM fields) I don’t feel like I have the luxury to say I’m too busy.”
The former Homecoming Queen of Alabama A&M University who earned her Ph.D degrees at University of Alabama at Birmingham and who (currently) is an assistant professor in the physics department at Tuskegee (slash) the lucky recipient of a $1.1 million grant won by fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country to further her patent-pending technology for using laser activated nanoparticles to treat cancer; under no uncertain terms Hadiyah is indeed busy by all measures, means (and hopes) as, a lot is riding on her shoulders and depending on her vision to work as planned as her goal.
Although Green respectfully declines being seen as any different than anyone else, she is, in many ways unusual. Not just for having been granted such a grant at a relatively young age and for being a black female in a field often dominated by white men. Although she doesn’t focus on that part in her day-to-day life, her laser focus is what got and is keeping her where she is and hopefully in the tops in her field for having done something not done yet.
And no, Hadiyah Green isn’t the first to think of using lasers and nanoparticles to treat cancer, unlike all others though, she merely has been able to work the kinks and bugs out of the parts of the technology that for all hose before her had been problematic and’ve run into brick walls trying to solve e.g. successfully delivering nanoparticles in living animals (in Green’s research: mice).
“As a physicist I’ve created a physical treatment that is not specific to the biology of the cancer. It’s a platform technology. It’s not cancer type-specific, though it can treat the cancer specifically. That’s a concept my friends who are biologists struggle with.”
You see the moral of the story is this. Where others before Hadiyah have tried and failed, for Hadiyah, her connection to the desire for this was authentic…intrinsic..personal.
It wasn’t just a a convenient, academic or scientific random accomplishment, “goal” (or #goal with a hashtag to brag out and show to the world for digital cred: an experience of someone else’s desire for herself).
Hadiyah witnessed first hand, two loved ones with cancer: One having gone through chemo and radiation and the side effects involved, and the other who declined treatment and choosing to bow and go out gracefully (like many with cancer who can’t stand to endure the side effects of cancer treatment).
You see when an experience is exclusive to your own authentic desire (rather than someone else’s) what you desire out of that experience can, will, (and does) bring greater a rewards for yourself and sometimes: others.
So stick to you own #goals conducive to your own authentic experience and desires and your laser-focus of it will break through nanaoparticles …and all that others can’t touch and couldn’t reach-like Hadiyah did.