The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukerjee is a brilliant book that combines masterful storytelling with the story of the history and biological underpinnings of cancer. I was planning on suggesting this book when I started talking about cancer on this blog, but Ken Burns has partnered with Barak Goodman and PBS to transform this book into a three night miniseries “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” starting tonight (see the trailer and visit the website).
In lieu (or in advance) of reading the book and our discussion here on the blog about cancer, I encourage you to watch this film. I read the book quite a while ago, but some of the stories still stick with me. Stories about massive, disfiguring surgeries to remove breasts, lymph nodes, and chest muscles to treat breast cancer before trials were done to prove that smaller surgeries had the same effectiveness. Stories about the discovery of the first chemotherapy – from work in a dye factory. Stories about scientists and physicians who pushed the bounds of knowledge to find better ways to treat patients.
Use this as a backdrop as you think about genes, hereditary, and biology as we move (soon – very soon!) into our discussions about cancer, it’s causes and cures.
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