Popular understanding holds that genetic changes create cancer. James DeGregori uses evolutionary principles to propose a new way of thinking about cancer’s occurrence. Cancer is as much a disease of evolution as it is of mutation, one in which mutated cells outcompete healthy cells in the ecosystem of the body’s tissues. His theory ties cancer’s progression, or lack thereof, to evolved strategies to maximize reproductive success.
Through natural selection, humans evolved genetic programs to maintain bodily health for as long as necessary to increase the odds of passing on our genes—but not much longer. These mechanisms engender a tissue environment that favors normal stem cells over precancerous ones. Healthy tissues thwart cancer cells’ ability to outcompete their precancerous rivals. But as our tissues age or accumulate damage from exposures such as smoking, normal stem cells find themselves less optimized to their ecosystem. Cancer-causing mutations can now help cells adapt to these altered tissue environments, and thus outcompete normal cells. Just as changes in a species’ habitat favor the evolution of new species, changes in tissue environments favor the growth of cancerous cells.
DeGregori’s perspective goes far in explaining who gets cancer, when it appears, and why. While we cannot avoid mutations, it may be possible to sustain our tissues’ natural and effective system of defense, even in the face of aging or harmful exposures. For those interested in learning how cancers arise within the human body, the insights in Adaptive Oncogenesis offer a compelling perspective.
Wisenberg may have lost a breast, but she retained her humor, outrage, and skepticism toward common wisdom and most institutions. While following the prescribed protocols at the place she called Fancy Hospital, Wisenberg is unsparing in her descriptions of the fumblings of new doctors, her own awkward announcement to her students, and the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors’ walk. Combining the personal with the political, she shares her research on the money spent on pink ribbons instead of preventing pollution, and the disparity in medical care between the insured and the uninsured. When chemotherapy made her bald, she decorated her head with henna swirls in front and an antiwar protest in back. During treatment, she also recorded the dailiness of life in Chicago as she rode the L, taught while one-breasted, and attended High Holiday services and a Passover seder.
Wisenberg’s writing has been compared to a mix of Leon Wieseltier and Fran Lebowitz, and in this book, she has Wieseltier’s erudition and Lebowitz’s self-deprecating cleverness: “If anybody ever offers you the choice between suffering and depression, take the suffering. And I don't mean physical suffering. I mean emotional suffering. I am hereby endorsing psychic suffering over depression.”
From The Adventures of Cancer Bitch:
I found that when you invite people to a pre-mastectomy party, they show up. Even those with small children. The kids were so young that they didn't notice that most of the food had nipples. . . . I talked to everyone—about what I'm not sure. Probably about my surgery. Everyone told me how well I looked. I felt giddy. I was going to go under, but not yet; I was going to be cut, but not yet; I was going to be bald, but not yet. As my friend who had bladder cancer says: The thing about cancer is you feel great until they start treating you for it.
An innovative contemporary history that blends insights from a variety of disciplines to highlight how a storied African cancer institute has shaped lives and identities in postcolonial Uganda.
Over the past decade, an increasingly visible crisis of cancer in Uganda has made local and international headlines. Based on transcontinental research and public engagement with the Uganda Cancer Institute that began in 2010, Africanizing Oncology frames the cancer hospital as a microcosm of the Ugandan state, as a space where one can trace the lived experiences of Ugandans in the twentieth century. Ongoing ethnographic fieldwork, patient records, oral histories, private papers from US oncologists, American National Cancer Institute records, British colonial office reports, and even the architecture of the institute itself show how Ugandans understood and continue to shape ideas about national identity, political violence, epidemics, and economic life.
Africanizing Oncology describes the political, social, technological, and biomedical dimensions of how Ugandans created, sustained, and transformed this institute over the past half century. With insights from science and technology studies and contemporary African history, Marissa Mika’s work joins a new wave of contemporary histories of the political, technological, moral, and intellectual aspirations and actions of Africans after independence. It contributes to a growing body of work on chronic disease and situates the contemporary urgency of the mounting cancer crisis on the continent in a longer history of global cancer research and care. With its creative integration of African studies, science and technology studies, and medical anthropology, Africanizing Oncology speaks to multiple scholarly communities.
A storyteller and avid fly fisherman, Jeff Metcalf is, for compelling personal reasons, an enhanced observer of the human condition, who finds himself often in the streams of the American West. Not only rivers run through his essays, his cancer does too. But so do camaraderie, adventures, reveling in nature and outdoor devotions, and the sheer bliss of focused engagement with the fish and the cast. Metcalf’s keenly observed companions are river guides, small-town locals, academics, and other city folk, all like him among those who run to the river for solace and joy.
These essays are much more than fish stories; they reveal the community and communion of fishing and the bonds to place the author nurtured through it. Whether he recalls carousing and tale-swapping with friends or excellence found through the challenge of the cast, Metcalf’s words, sometimes roiling and turbulent, sometimes calm and reflective, like a western river, vividly convey the pull of the steelhead and the fight for survival. Whether or not you fish, Metcalf’s sharp-eyed, open and honest look at life will draw you in.
"These waters have been my home, and I fish them more than most. In truth, they have saved my life on more than a few occasions. I seek refuge in the quiet solitude of rivers, and in dark hours of my life—including this particular year—I need desperately to be fly-fishing." —From the book
“Illness, in the larger sense of mortality,” Don Hardy writes, “is an inescapable shared trait among all living creatures, and we humans know about it, whether or not we want to talk about it.”
Because I’d Hate to Just Disappear is a portrait of a husband and wife, Don and Heather Hardy, thrown into the physical and emotional machinery of Don being diagnosed with leukemia and going through chemotherapy and treatment over a period of close to two years.
In this thoughtful and exquisite account, Don and Heather narrate Don’s struggle in real-time. Disarmingly honest, they recount each intimate stage of a couple living through cancer together, the mental and physical struggles, the humor and visceral emotion to reveal how two very different personalities shape—and are shaped by—the experience of cancer and its treatment. Through these moments emerge a constant flow of human kindness and discovery that lifts them each day.
In 1985 the media announced a new therapy for cancer. It was expensive, labor-intensive, and toxic--but, they said, it worked. How it worked is the story Ilana Löwy tells in Between Bench and Bedside, a compelling account of the clinical trials of interleukin-2 at a major French cancer hospital. Her book offers a remarkable insider's view of the culture of clinical experimentation in oncology--and of how this culture affects the development of new treatments for cancer.
Löwy, a historian of science who trained as an immunologist, makes the life of the laboratory and the hospital comprehensible and immediate. Before immersing us in the clinical drama, she fills in the history behind the action--a background of chemotherapy and radiation, controlled clinical trials, and the long line of immunological approaches that finally led to interleukin-2. The story then shifts to the introduction of interleukin-2 in a cancer ward. Löwy conveys the clinical investigation as a complex, multilayered phenomenon that defies the stereotypes of modern biomedicine. In this picture, the miracle-makers and arrogant, self-centered professionals of myth give way to moving images of real people negotiating the tensions between institutional and professional constraints, the search for a scientific breakthrough, and the obligation to alleviate the suffering of a patient. The result is a rare firsthand look at the multiple factors that shape real-life clinical experiments and the institutional tangle and emotional muddle that surround such trials--an invaluable view at a time when medicine is undergoing such great and confusing changes.
Depending on one’s vantage point, breast cancer can be a very different experience, and indeed, a very different concern. It is, for some, a personal struggle; for others, it is a disease posing scientific and environmental challenges; and for others it is a highly charged and politicized issue around which policy wars rage. Beyond Slash, Burn, and Poison brings a unique perspective to breast cancer by recognizing the overlapping relationship of all these realities.
Drawing on the writings of Rachel Carson, Betty Ford, Rose Kushner, and Audre Lorde, this book explores the various ways in which patient-centered texts continue to leave their mark on the political realm of breast cancer and, ultimately, the disease itself. Ordered chronologically, the selections trace the progression of discussions about breast cancer from a time when the subject was kept private and silent to when it became part of public discourse. The texts included are personal accounts, written by women struggling to play an active role in their healing process and, at the same time, hoping to help others do the same.
Knopf-Newman also shows us how these writings eventually changed public opinion and the underlying tendency to blame women for their illness. She argues that changes in medical practice and public policy are linked to textual interventions, and makes a case for the politicization of cultural studies of disease through personal and literary expression.
Passionately written and well-researched, Beyond Slash, Burn, and Poison transforms how we think about breast cancer. Rather than facilitating forums for separate discussions, this book brings conversations into dialog with each other. It is essential reading for anyone concerned with breast cancer and its history, as well as for those interested in the effect of the environment on public health and the role that literature plays in public policy and medicine.
For nearly forty years, feminists and patient activists have argued that medicine is a deeply individualizing and depoliticizing institution. According to this view, medical practices are incidental to people’s transformation from patients to patient activists. The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer turns this understanding upside down.
Maren Klawiter analyzes the evolution of the breast cancer movement to show the broad social impact of how diseases come to be medically managed and publicly administered. Examining surgical procedures, adjuvant therapies, early detection campaigns, and the rise in discourses of risk, Klawiter demonstrates that these practices created a change in the social relations-if not the mortality rate-of breast cancer that initially inhibited, but later enabled, collective action. Her research focuses on the emergence and development of new forms of activism that range from grassroots patient empowerment to environmental activism and corporate-funded breast cancer awareness.
The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer opens a window onto a larger set of changes currently transforming medically advanced societies and ultimately challenges our understanding of the origins, politics, and future of the breast cancer movement.
Maren Klawiter holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently pursuing a law degree at Yale University.
At age 42, Barbara L. Gordon was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. Two years later, it appeared that the cancer had metastasized. Along with her oncologist and other experts, Gordon has written the book that she wished she had as she faced late-stage breast cancer and the prospect of dying from the disease. Filled with information and advice, and designed to enable informed decisions and improved quality of life, this comprehensive guide gathers in one place authoritative medical information about recurrence and late-stage breast cancer, and it addresses the practical, emotional, spiritual, and interpersonal aspects of dying and death.
This indispensable book aids those diagnosed with recurrent or late-stage breast cancer, those wanting to reduce the chance of a recurrence, and those with other types of late-stage cancer. It is also a valuable resource for healthcare professionals, friends, and family members.
Topics covered include
• Types of recurrence, their symptoms, and ways of minimizing the chance of a recurrence • Diagnostic tests, potential surgeries, and treatments to manage late-stage cancer • Getting the best care, evaluating complementary therapies, and alleviating pain and depression • Cessation of treatment and what one may experience as the disease progresses • End-of-life issues including dealing with financial and legal matters, communicating with loved ones and hospice workers, and planning memorial services
Breast Cancer Recurrence and Advanced Disease includes a glossary of medical terms, appendices on nutrition and integrative health centers, and links to current Web sites addressing matters such as clinical trials, patients’ rights, and medical expenses.
The first comparison of the breast cancer and the prostate cancer movements
Cancer Activism explores the interplay between advocacy, the media, and public perception through an analysis of breast cancer and prostate cancer activist groups over a nearly twenty-year period. Despite both diseases having nearly identical mortality and morbidity rates, Karen M. Kedrowski and Marilyn Stine Sarow present evidence from more than 4,200 news articles to show that the different groups have had markedly different impacts. They trace the rise of each movement from its beginning and explore how discussions about the diseases appeared on media, public, and government agendas. In an important exception to the feminist tenet that women as a group hold less power than men, Kedrowski and Sarow demonstrate that the breast cancer movement is not only larger and better organized than the prostate cancer movement, it is also far more successful at shaping media coverage, public opinion, and government policy.
Cancer. It’s the diagnosis no one wants to hear. Unfortunately though, these days most of us have known or will know someone who receives it. But what’s next? With the diagnosis comes not only fear and uncertainty, but numerous questions, and a lot of unsolicited advice. With A Cancer Companion, esteemed oncologist Ranjana Srivastava is here to help, bringing both experience and honesty to guide cancer patients and their families through this labyrinth of questions and treatments.
With candor and compassion, Srivastava provides an approachable and authoritative reference. She begins with the big questions, like what cancer actually is, and she moves on to offer very practical advice on how to find an oncologist, what to expect during and after treatments, and how to manage pain, diet, and exercise. She discusses in detail the different therapies for cancers and why some cancers are inoperable, and she skillfully addresses the emotional toll of the disease. She speaks clearly and directly to cancer patients, caretakers, and their loved ones, offering straightforward information and insight, something that many oncologists can’t always convey in the office.
Until the early 1960s, cancer treatment consisted primarily of surgery and radiation therapy. Most practitioners then viewed the treatment of terminally ill cancer patients with heroic courses of chemotherapy as highly questionable. The randomized clinical trials that today sustain modern oncology were relatively rare and prompted stiff opposition from physicians, who were loath to assign patients randomly to competing treatments. Yet today these trials form the basis of medical oncology. How did such a spectacular change occur? How did medical oncology pivot from a nonentity and, in some regards, a reviled practice to the central position it now occupies in modern medicine?
In Cancer on Trial Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio explore how practitioners established a new style of practice, at the center of which lies the cancer clinical trial. Far from mere testing devices, these trials have become full-fledged experiments that have redefined the practices of clinicians, statisticians, and biologists. Keating and Cambrosio investigate these trials and how they have changed since the 1960s, all the while demonstrating their significant impact on the progression of oncology. A novel look at the institution of clinical cancer research and therapy, this book will be warmly welcomed by historians, sociologists, and anthropologists of science and medicine, as well as clinicians and researchers in the cancer field.
An innovative theory proposes a new therapeutic strategy to break the stalemate in the war on cancer. It is called cancer stem cell (CSC) theory, and Lucie Laplane offers a comprehensive analysis, based on an original interdisciplinary approach that combines biology, biomedical history, and philosophy.
Rather than treat cancer by aggressively trying to eliminate all cancerous cells—with harmful side effects for patients—CSC theory suggests the possibility of targeting the CSCs, a small fraction of cells that lie at the root of cancers. CSCs are cancer cells that also have the defining properties of stem cells—the abilities to self-renew and to differentiate. According to this theory, only CSCs and no other cancer cells can induce tumor formation.
To date, researchers have not agreed on the defining feature of CSCs—their stemness. Drawing from a philosophical perspective, Laplane shows that there are four possible ways to understand this property: stemness can be categorical (an intrinsic property of stem cells), dispositional (an intrinsic property whose expression depends on external stimuli), relational (an extrinsic property determined by a cell’s relationship with the microenvironment), or systemic (an extrinsic property controlled at the system level). Our ability to cure cancers may well depend upon determining how these definitions apply to different types of cancers.
In this narrative collection, ten children and teens use their own words and colorful drawings to share their personal experiences with cancer. This diverse collection of patient stories provides insight into the unique lives of these individuals; some are recently diagnosed and undergoing treatment for cancer while others are in remission or have relapsed. These children and teens are honest and perceptive, their stories told with heartfelt emotion.
This book is a resource for all those interested in learning more about childhood cancer, including health practitioners, family, and friends. These stories also have the potential to help other youth diagnosed with cancer.
All of the proceeds received by the University of Michigan Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology for this book will be donated: 50% to the Block Out Cancer campaign for pediatric cancer research at the University of Michigan and 50% to the Child and Family Life Program at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
When a patient is diagnosed with a gynecological malignancy, she and her doctors must make urgent, high-risk decisions about her course of treatment. In selecting an appropriate plan of care, physicians must weigh the patient’s individual needs, the tumor’s specific characteristics, and the treatment’s potential side effects. Because there is no one-size-fits-all treatment solution, a plethora of clinical trials have been performed on ovarian cancer patients, but clinicians may struggle to keep up with this ever-growing body of research.
Collecting and synthesizing research findings from a wide array of medical journal articles and book chapters, Clinical Trials in Ovarian Cancer provides physicians with an invaluable resource. Gynecologic oncologist Christine S. Walsh systematically outlines each of the seminal Phase III trials that have shaped the treatment of ovarian cancers, detailing the rationale for the trial, the patient population studied, treatment delivery methods, efficacy, toxicity, and trial conclusions. She provides a clear overview of established treatments, as well as still-controversial experimental approaches.
The first book to organize this cutting-edge research into an easy-to-use reference, Clinical Trials in Ovarian Cancer should help medical personnel at all levels provide their patients with the highest standard of care.
"The author's multiple voices--scholar, sociologist, victim--provide an academic, yet personal, professional, yet poignant, story....Readers face...the 'contradictory meanings' that an especially articulate woman brings to the final chapter of her life."
--Women and Health
In 1988, Marianne Paget published the Unity of Mistakes: A Phenomenological Interpretation of Medical Work (Temple) in which she argued that error is an intrinsic feature in medicine--an experimental and uncertain activity. Her subsequent research focused on medical negligence and on miscommunication and silence a as cause and product of error in medicine. While pursuing her research on negligence, she found out that she was an example of it. Chronic back pain that had been misdiagnosed as muscle spasms turned out to be a symptom of a rare and fatal cancer that claimed Paget's life in December 1989. This collection of her personal and professional writings on the phenomenon of error in medicine chronicles a young scholar's courageous struggle to make sense of a tragic coincidence.
Discovering that she was living the charges and painful topic that she had studied so deeply, Paget write poignantly and analytically until the last week of her life about this uncanny parallel. "It is very tricky to come to terms with the reality of death without becoming trapped in that reality," wrote "Tracy" Paget to her friends. In this book, she describes "the odd way my life began to mirror my work"; her search for "life rites" when face with tasks involving wills, last rites, and farewells; and her indomitable and forthright attempt to remain intensely alive in the face of death.
A Complex Sorrow, her final project, comprises essays, letters, and a journal recording her last year. Ever critical of the distanced and dispassionate stance taken in much social analysis, Paget had experimented with performance as a form for enlivening social science research. The script for her play, "The Work of Talk," about communication problems between a physician and his cancer patient, is also included. Her compelling life-text speaks to those living with illness and those who care for and about them, as the investigation and representation of lived experience.
Excerpt available at www.temple.edu/tempress
"Strangely, my knowledge of error has helped me deal with the errors in my care. Had I not known about the prevalence of error in medicine I would not have been able to process what has happened to me without bitterness. But I had thought these matters through already, and more than once. I now live out the complex sorrow I have before described."
--Marianne A. Paget
"Paget's book is stunning. It's a tribute to the invulnerable human spirit. The woman burned like a flame; obviously she died well, because she lived well; she was loved because she was loving. The book is tremendously sad, but it isn't depressing; somehow, one is left with a sense of human possibility."
--Joan Cassell, author of Expected Miracles: Surgeons at Work
Is cancer a contagious disease? In the late nineteenth century this idea, and attending efforts to identify a cancer “germ,” inspired fear and ignited controversy. Yet speculation that cancer might be contagious also contained a kernel of hope that the strategies used against infectious diseases, especially vaccination, might be able to subdue this dread disease. Today, nearly one in six cancers are thought to have an infectious cause, but the path to that understanding was twisting and turbulent.
A Contagious Cause is the first book to trace the century-long hunt for a human cancer virus in America, an effort whose scale exceeded that of the Human Genome Project. The government’s campaign merged the worlds of molecular biology, public health, and military planning in the name of translating laboratory discoveries into useful medical therapies. However, its expansion into biomedical research sparked fierce conflict. Many biologists dismissed the suggestion that research should be planned and the idea of curing cancer by a vaccine or any other means as unrealistic, if not dangerous. Although the American hunt was ultimately fruitless, this effort nonetheless profoundly shaped our understanding of life at its most fundamental levels. A Contagious Cause links laboratory and legislature as has rarely been done before, creating a new chapter in the histories of science and American politics.
In the 1960s University of Cincinnati radiologist Eugene Saenger infamously conducted human experiments on patients with advanced cancer to examine how total body radiation could treat the disease. But, under contract with the Department of Defense, Saenger also used those same patients as proxies for soldiers to answer questions about combat effectiveness on a nuclear battlefield.
Using the Saenger case as a means to reconsider cold war medical trials, Contested Medicine examines the inherent tensions at the heart of clinical studies of the time. Emphasizing the deeply intertwined and mutually supportive relationship between cancer therapy with radiation and military medicine, Gerald Kutcher explores post–World War II cancer trials, the efforts of the government to manage clinical ethics, and the important role of military investigations in the development of an effective treatment for childhood leukemia. Whereas most histories of human experimentation judge research such as Saenger’s against idealized practices, Contested Medicine eschews such an approach and considers why Saenger’s peers and later critics had so much difficulty reaching an unambiguous ethical assessment. Kutcher’s engaging investigation offers an approach to clinical ethics and research imperatives that lays bare many of the conflicts and tensions of the postwar period.
Did America try to steal Soviet "cancer secrets"? And how could a cancer cure turn into a "biological atomic bomb"? Nikolai Krementsov's compelling tale of cancer and politics is the story of a husband-and-wife team who developed a promising anticancer treatment in Stalin's Russia, only to see their discovery entangled in Cold War rivalries, ideological conflict, and scientific turf wars.
In 1946, Nina Kliueva and Grigorii Roskin announced the discovery of a preparation able to "dissolve" tumors in mice. Preliminary clinical trials suggested that KR, named after its developers, might work in humans as well. Media hype surrounding KR prompted the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union to seek U.S.-Soviet cooperation in perfecting the possible cure. But the escalating Cold War gave this American interest a double edge. Though it helped Kliueva and Roskin solicit impressive research support from the Soviet leadership, including Stalin, it also thrust the couple into the center of an ideological confrontation between the superpowers. Accused of divulging "state secrets" to America, the couple were put on a show trial, and their "antipatriotic sins" were condemned in Soviet stage and film productions.
Parlaying their notoriety into increased funding, Kliueva and Roskin continued their research, but envious colleagues discredited their work and took over their institute. For years, work on KR languished and ceased entirely with the deaths of Kliueva and Roskin. But recently, the Russian press reported that work on KR has begun again, reopening this illuminating story of the intersection among Cold War politics, personal ideals, and biomedical research.
The Deepening Shade is an elegant synthesis of the psychology of life-threatening illness. The book’s evocative power derives from the interweaving of clinical conceptualization with the words of patients and family members. Rather than focusing on death, Sourkes explores <I>living</I> with a life-threatening illness.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, millions of women were exposed prenatally to the synthetic estrogen DES, a “wonder drug” intended to prevent miscarriages. However, DES actually had damaging consequences for the women born from DES mothers. The “DES daughters” as they are known, were found to have a rare form of vaginal cancer or were infertile. They were also at risk for miscarriages, stillbirths, and ectopic pregnancies.
In DES Daughters, Susan Bell recounts the experiences of this generation of “victims.” In moving, heartfelt narratives, she presents the voices of those women who developed cancer, those who were cancer-free but have concerns about becoming pregnant, and those who suffered other medical and/or reproductive difficulties.
Bell examines the hierarchy of knowledge and power of scientists, doctors, and daughters, tracing the emergence of a feminist health movement. The “embodied knowledge” of these DES daughters prompted them to become advocates and form a social movement that challenged reproductive medical knowledge specifically, but also the politics of women’s health in general. Bell’s important book chronicles the history and future of these grassroots activists born out of illness, suffering, and uncertainty.
Diary of a Detour
Lesley Stern Duke University Press, 2020 Library of Congress PR9619.3.S796Z46 2020
Diary of a Detour is film scholar and author Lesley Stern's memoir of living with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. She chronicles the fears and daily experience of coming to grips with an incurable form of cancer by describing the dramas and delving into the science. Stern also nudges cancer off center stage by turning to alternative obsessions and pleasures. In seductive writing she describes her life in the garden and kitchen, the hospital and the library, and her travels—down the street to her meditation center, across the border to Mexico, and across the world to Australia. Her immediate world is inhabited with books, movies, politics, and medical reports that provoke essayistic reflections. As her environment is shared with friends, chickens, a cat called Elvis, mountain goats, whales, lions, and microbes the book opens onto a larger than human world. Intimate and meditative, engrossing and singular, Diary of a Detour offers new ideas about what it might mean to live and think with cancer, and with chronic illness more broadly.
Diary of Our Fatal Illness
Charles Bardes University of Chicago Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3602.A775265D53 2017 | Dewey Decimal 811.6
This moving prose poem tells the story of an aged man who suffers a prolonged and ultimately fatal illness. From initial diagnosis to remission to relapse to death, the experience is narrated by the man’s son, a practicing doctor. Charles Bardes, a physician and poet, draws on years of experience with patients and sickness to construct a narrative that links myth, diverse metamorphoses, and the modern mechanics of death. We stand with the doctors, the family, and, above all, a sick man and his disease as their voices are artfully crafted into a new and powerful language of illness.
Cancer is that “loathsome beast, which seized upon the breast, drove its long claws into the surrounding tissues, derived its sustenance by sucking out the juices of its victims, and never even relaxed its hold in death,” a turn-of-the-century physician recorded. Even today cancer affects the popular imagination with dread. In a subtle and penetrating cultural history, James Patterson examines reactions to the disease through a century of American life.
The modern American preoccupation with cancer was apparent during the widely publicized illness and death from that ailment of Ulysses S. Grant in 1885. Awareness of the disease soon figured heavily in the public consciousness, and individual reactions to it continue to reveal broader tensions within American society. Patterson examines responses to cancer by researchers and physicians, quacks and faith healers, by the multitude who have heard sensational media reports of “cures,” as well as by many who have had firsthand experiences with the disease.
Optimistic attitudes of many experts contrast sharply with the skepticism of large segments of the population—often the less wealthy and the less educated—that reject the claims of medical science and resist the advice or, some argue, the paternalistic dictates of the government-supported cancer research establishment.
Expanding expectations of a cure from a confident medical profession; the rise of a government-supported Cancer Establishment managing a large research empire; the emergence of a “cancer counterculture”; a new emphasis on prevention through control of the environment and the self; and the private fears and pessimism of millions of Americans form a telling history of American social patterns. Whether the issue is smoking, pollution, or regular checkups, attitudes toward cancer reflect more general views on medicine, public policy, and illness, as well as on death and dying. This century has witnessed both a biomedical revolution and a vastly increased role of the state in the private lives of citizens; but not everyone has bought the medical package, and many have little faith in government intervention.
Readers interested in the cultural dimensions of science and medicine as well as historians, sociologists, and political scientists will be enlightened and challenged by The Dread Disease.
In Enduring Cancer Dwaipayan Banerjee explores the efforts of Delhi's urban poor to create a livable life with cancer as patients and families negotiate an overextended health system unequipped to respond to the disease. Owing to long wait times, most urban poor cancer patients do not receive a diagnosis until it is too late to treat the disease effectively. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the city's largest cancer care NGO and at India's premier public health hospital, Banerjee describes how, for these patients, a cancer diagnosis is often the latest and most serious in a long series of infrastructural failures. In the wake of these failures, Banerjee tracks how the disease then distributes itself across networks of social relations, testing these networks for strength and vulnerability. Banerjee demonstrates how living with and alongside cancer is to be newly awakened to the fragility of social ties, some already made brittle by past histories, and others that are retested for their capacity to support.
This book presents the stories of eleven patients and family members who received the diagnosis of esophageal cancer. The stories, provided by esophageal cancer survivors, illustrate some of the setbacks and some of the triumphs, that these individuals and their families encountered. All of these patients underwent a remarkable surgical procedure known as an esophagectomy. During this operation, the majority of the esophagus is removed. In order to restore swallowing, the stomach is reconfigured into a tube that is repositioned in the chest and neck and sutured to the remaining esophagus. The stories convey courage and strength in the face of a major life-changing event and its consequences. The authors describe in detail what the experience was like for themselves and their loved ones. Their stories are inspiring and offer hope to others facing this illness. Book sales support patient and family education in the Thoracic Surgery section of the University of Michigan Health System.
In Evaluating Alternative Cancer Therapies, David Hess has interviewed the major opinion leaders in the alternative cancer therapy field - clinicians, researchers, patient advocacy leaders, and journalists - who explain their philosophy of evaluation, their therapeutic preferences, and the political and economic hurdles to getting the necessary research done. Both a guide to the guides and a survey of the field, this innovative book provides a framework for evaluation problems that clinicians and patients face - from patient needs and the quality of potential clinical care givers to research methods, proposed policy reforms, and the therapies themselves.
Charles Brenton Huggins won the Nobel prize in 1966 for his extensive work in cancer research. He has spent fifty years at the laboratory bench exploring the nature of this disease in an attempt to understand and control it. In this volume, based almost exclusively on experiments conducted over the past twenty years at the University of Chicago, is both the record of Huggins's own research and, in Huggins's words, "a do-it-yourself guide for cancer research workers." Written simply and clearly so that the experiments can be easily reproduced, the book presents Huggins's experiments in the induction of breast cancer and leukemia in rodents. It also describes the methods he discovered to prevent cancer and to cure many of the cancers he has been able to induce. Although most of the material concerns breast cancer and leukemia, research on other kinds of tumors is also described.
Between 1951 and 1962 the Atomic Energy Commission triggered some one hundred atmospheric detonations of nuclear weapons at the Nevada Test Site. U.S. military troops who participated in these tests were exposed to high doses of radiation. Among them was a young Marine named Leonard Bird. In Folding Paper Cranes Bird juxtaposes his devastating experience of those atomic exercises with three visits over his lifetime—one in the 1950s before his Nevada assignment, one in 1981, and one in the early 1990s—to the International Park for World Peace in Hiroshima.
Among the monuments to tragedy and hope in Hiroshima’s Peace Park stands a statue of Sadako Sasaki holding a crane in her outstretched arms. Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on her city; she was diagnosed with leukemia ten years later. According to popular Japanese belief, folding a thousand paper cranes brings good fortune. Sadako spent the last months of her young life folding hundreds of paper cranes. She folded 644 before she died.
As he journeys from the Geiger counters, radioactive dust, and mushroom clouds of the Nevada desert to the bronze and ivory memorials for the dead in Japan, Bird—himself a survivor of radiation-induced cancer—seeks to make peace with his past and with a future shadowed by nuclear proliferation. His paper cranes are the poetry and prose of this haunting memoir.
Women have been writing about cancer for decades, but since the early 1990s, the body of literature on cancer has increased exponentially as growing numbers of women face the searing realities of the disease and give testimony to its ravages and revelations.
Fractured Borders: Reading Women's Cancer Literature surveys a wide range of contemporary writing about breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer, including works by Marilyn Hacker, Margaret Edson, Carole Maso, Audre Lorde, Eve Sedgwick, Mahasweta Devi, Lucille Clifton, Alicia Ostriker, Jayne Anne Phillips, Terry Tempest Williams, and Jeanette Winterson, among many others. DeShazer's readings bring insights from body theory, performance theory, feminist literary criticism, French feminisms, and disability studies to bear on these works, shining new light on a literary subject that is engaging more and more writers.
"An important and useful book that will appeal to people in a variety of fields and walks of life, including scholars, teachers, and anyone interested in this subject."
--Suzanne Poirier, University of Illinois at Chicago
"A book on a timely and important topic, wisely written beyond scholarly boundaries and crossing many theoretical and disciplinary lines."
--Patricia Moran, University of California, Davis
Freddie Steinmark started at safety for the undefeated University of Texas Longhorns in 1969. In the thrilling “Game of the Century,” a come-from-behind victory against Arkansas that ensured Texas the national championship, Steinmark played with pain in his left leg. Two days later, X-rays revealed a bone tumor so large that it seemed a miracle Steinmark could walk, let alone play football. Within a week of the Arkansas game, his leg was amputated.
A gritty, undersized player, Steinmark had quickly become a fan favorite at Texas. What he endured during the Longhorns’ memorable 1969 season, and what he encountered afterward, captivated not only Texans but the country at large. Americans watched closely as Steinmark confronted life’s ultimate challenge, and his openness during his battle against savage odds helped reframe the national conversation surrounding cancer and the ongoing race for a cure.
Written with unfettered access to the Steinmark family and archives, Freddie Steinmark: Faith, Family, Football is the exploration of a brief but full life, one that began humbly but ended on a grand stage. It is a fitting tribute to a legendary Longhorn whose photograph, emblazoned with the word “Heart,” flashes on the Freddie Steinmark Scoreboard’s Jumbotron prior to each home football game in UT’s Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium at Joe Jamail Field.
From the early 1980s, the U.S. environmental breast cancer movement has championed the goal of eradicating the disease by emphasizing the importance of reducing—even eliminating exposure to chemicals and toxins. From Pink to Green chronicles the movement's disease prevention philosophy from the beginning.
Challenging the broader cultural milieu of pink ribbon symbolism and breast cancer "awareness" campaigns, this movement has grown from a handful of community-based organizations into a national entity, shaping the cultural, political, and public health landscape. Much of the activists' everyday work revolves around describing how the so called "cancer industry" downplays possible environmental links to protect their political and economic interests and they demand that the public play a role in scientific, policy, and public health decision-making to build a new framework of breast cancer prevention.
From Pink to Green successfully explores the intersection between breast cancer activism and the environmental health sciences, incorporating public and scientific debates as well as policy implications to public health and environmental agendas.
Genius: A Novel
Thomas Rayfiel Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PS3568.A9257G46 2016 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Kara Bell spent her youth plotting escape from Witch’s Falls, Arkansas. Relentless focus and the spurning of all emotional attachment led to the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia University. But Kara’s careful plans are upended by cancer, and suddenly she is home again, where she finds herself subject to her mother’s suffocating care, her brother’s puzzling love life, the local doctor’s meddling, and the strong gravitational pull of her old friend and obsession, Christy Lee. Will Kara find health and sanity? Will she learn what really happened to her father? Can she escape Witch’s Falls a second time, or will she succumb to the slow poison of local kindness and Snickers Salad?
In Genius, Thomas Rayfiel finds both poignancy and dark humor in deathly illness, family secrets, organized religion, parenting, abortion, gossip, senility, and the mysterious rhythms of small-town life.
Grace Period: A Novel
Gerald W. Haslam University of Nevada Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3558.A724G73 2006 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
A masterpiece by one of the West’s best-loved authorsJust when Sacramento journalist Marty Martinez thinks his life can’t get any worse, it does. His beloved son has died of AIDS, his wife has divorced him and joined a cult, and his daughter blames him for the disintegration of their family. Then a chance medical examination reveals that he has prostate cancer. Marty faces his new role as a cancer patient with awkward grit and desperation. He is a sympathetic, utterly convincing character seeking faith in a Catholic Church as troubled as he is. He brings increased intensity to his career as he investigates a far-reaching political scandal, reunites his family in unexpected ways, and finds love with a fellow cancer patient. Grace Period is a profound and sometimes hilarious novel about living with serious illness. Marty copes with fear and the painful, sometimes embarrassing, treatment of his disease, but instead of winding down his life he finds fresh purpose and a joyful new love. Haslam brilliantly depicts the complexities of everyday life and the intricate, sometimes tortured bonds of family and friendship. In Grace Period, Haslam shows us that existence at the precarious edge of life offers not only pain and loss but hope, a chance at redemption, love, and even happiness. Grace Period is his masterwork.
The Guardian Angel Diary
GRANT SCHNARR Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2011 Library of Congress PS3619.C44655G83 2011 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Minister Grant Schnarr draws together the voices of young people he has met and counseled to weave a fictional tale of love, fear, and hope.
Sixteen-year-old Nicole Bealart is a typical teenager, living in a world of homework, school plays, and her own imagination—a world turned upside-down when she is diagnosed with brain cancer. Her father, who never dealt with her mother’s death from lung cancer six years before, begins drinking heavily; she is left trying to care for herself and her younger brother, Luke, while juggling school and her growing fears about her own mortality. Seeking answers, she begins writing a journal that becomes a vehicle for her to communicate with her guardian angel. As she approaches the date of an operation that may either save her life or end it, her inner and outer worlds collide and combine to give her a new understanding of family, friendship, and life.
When Barney Clark received the Jarvik-7 artificial heart in 1983 and Cold Fusion came under fire in 1989, Chase Peterson, as the University of Utah president, was inevitably pulled into these campus events. While these episodes may be the best known in Peterson’s professional history, they are certainly not the only stories that make his autobiography worth reading.
The Guardian Poplar tells of a man who grew up in small-town Utah and carried his pioneer and Mormon heritage to a New England prep school and later to Harvard. He then returned to Utah as a doctor, but unexpectedly found himself back at Harvard as its dean of admissions, handling issues such as the Vietnam War and racial and gender reform. The book explains how Peterson’s home state recruited him back to become an administrator at the University of Utah and how he would eventually become the university president, taking on new issues and challenges. Peterson recounts these years by drawing on anecdotes that recall the people he served and the moments that brought his life meaning.
This autobiography is a compelling account of how Peterson has managed to balance family and career, handle the tensions that have arisen between his faith and his scientific training, and remain solid in the face of his newest challenge—cancer. The book’s engaging prose and honest reflections are sure to intrigue and inspire readers who know the man well, as well as those readers who simply want to know a man who can be described as dedicated, faithful, hardworking, and hopeful about the future.
“When I first met Chase Peterson as a Harvard freshman—along with our joint friend and brother David Evans—something deeply touched me. It was not only his sincere smile and open embrace but also a sense that here was a kind and courageous man comfortable in his own skin, secure in who he was yet eager to encounter new persons, new experiences, and new challenges. . . . He was from Utah but in New England, a Mormon in old Harvard, and a medical doctor in the deanship of admissions. Little did I know that his journey would enhance and enrich my own—owing to his critical allegiance to his family, his faith, his friends, and to his citizenship of country and world. His prophetic witness at Harvard in the turbulent ‘60s and ‘70s, his promotion of black priesthood in the Mormon church, his support of antiapartheid protests in the ‘80s, and his steadfast defense of academic freedom in the Cold Fusion controversy in the early ‘90s all express his quiet and humble effort to be true to himself—a self grounded in, but
not limited by, a rich Mormon tradition.”—from the foreword by Cornel West
Laurence Gonzales began his successful publishing career in 1989 with the publication of The Still Point and later The Hero’s Apprentice (1994), both with the University of Arkansas Press. From these collections of essays he went on to write for renowned magazines in addition to publishing several books, including the best selling Deep Survival. His journalism garnered two National Magazine Awards, and his latest nonfiction book, Surviving Survival, was named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2012.
This new collection of essays shows us the sometimes hair-raising, sometimes heart-wrenching writing that Gonzales has become known for. This “compelling and trustworthy guide” (Booklist) takes us from a maximum-security prison to a cancer ward, from a mental institution to the World Trade Center. Among the essays included is “Marion Prison,” a National Magazine Award finalist, with its intimate view inside the most maximum security prison in America. “House of Pain” takes the reader into the life of a brain surgeon at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, a grim world that few ever see. “Rites of Spring,” another National Magazine Award finalist, follows Gonzales and his wife on their journey through cancer, not once, but twice.
Other stories venture above the Arctic Circle, flying deep into the Alaskan wilderness among grizzly bears and trumpeter swans; explore aerobatics in high-performance aircraft; and eulogize Memphis and Miami as American cities that mourn their fates in uniquely different ways.
In Improvising Medicine, Julie Livingston tells the story of Botswana's only dedicated cancer ward, located in its capital city of Gaborone. This affecting ethnography follows patients, their relatives, and ward staff as a cancer epidemic emerged in Botswana. The epidemic is part of an ongoing surge in cancers across the global south; the stories of Botswana's oncology ward dramatize the human stakes and intellectual and institutional challenges of an epidemic that will shape the future of global health. They convey the contingencies of high-tech medicine in a hospital where vital machines are often broken, drugs go in and out of stock, and bed-space is always at a premium. They also reveal cancer as something that happens between people. Serious illness, care, pain, disfigurement, and even death emerge as deeply social experiences. Livingston describes the cancer ward in terms of the bureaucracy, vulnerability, power, biomedical science, mortality, and hope that shape contemporary experience in southern Africa. Her ethnography is a profound reflection on the social orchestration of hope and futility in an African hospital, the politics and economics of healthcare in Africa, and palliation and disfigurement across the global south.
To doctors, cancer means cells growing out of control; to patients, cancer means a life spinning out of control. Janet R. Gilsdorf, who writes with quiet but devastating honesty about her experience with breast cancer, offers an eye-opening glimpse, through her unique dual perspective as physician and patient, of both sides of the medical divide.
The medical system delivers cures, answers, and relief from pain to those who seek its help, but it can also offer misinformation, shattered expectations, horrible options, and inhumane consideration of the people it is supposed to serve. As Gilsdorf takes us on a journey across the terrifying landscape of cancer, she discovers that there are oases of unfathomable beauty to be found.
Inside/Outside is compelling, sometimes scary, reading as it puts us inside Gilsdorf’s skin. It ponders a vast array of profound choices most of us will be confronted with in our lives: thinking versus feeling, knowing versus not knowing, hanging on versus letting go, loving versus hating, and the immeasurable territories of life between the poles. Even as it touches on these universal human themes, ultimately Inside/Outside is a story of one person’s courage, hope, and survival in the face of terrifying odds.
Janet R. Gilsdorf, M.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, Division of Infectious Diseases, Medical School, and Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, at the University of Michigan. She is also Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Mott Children's Hospital; Director of the Cell and Molecular Biology in Pediatrics Training Program; and Director of the Haemophilus influenzae Research Laboratory.
On her deathbed, Sue asked her sister for one thing: to write about the connection between the industrial pollution in their hometown and the rare cancer that was killing her. Fulfilling that promise has been Nancy Nichols’ mission for more than a decade.
Lake Effect is the story of her investigation. It reaches back to their childhood in Waukegan, Illinois, an industrial town on Lake Michigan once known for good factory jobs and great fishing. Now Waukegan is famous for its Superfund sites: as one resident put it, asbestos to the north, PCBs to the south.
Drawing on her experience as a journalist, Nichols interviewed dozens of scientists, doctors, and environmentalists to determine if these pollutants could have played a role in her sister’s death. While researching Sue’s cancer, she discovered her own: a vicious though treatable form of pancreatic cancer. Doctors and even family urged her to forget causes and concentrate on cures, but Nichols knew that it was relentless questioning that had led to her diagnosis. And that it is questioning—by government as well as individuals—that could save other lives.
Lake Effect challenges us to ask why. It is the fulfillment of a sister’s promise. And it is a call to stop the pollution that is endangering the health of all our families.
In this essential guide, Dave Visel draws on expertise hard-won during his wife’s battle with lymphoma. He provides an overview of the varieties of cancer and all the basic types of treatments available. Chapters dispel common myths associated with these treatments and provide tips on nutrition and physical fitness. Visel also moves beyond the hospital to provide information and strategies to help with the emotional, practical, and financial effects of a diagnosis. Cancer patients will find the tools they need to make well-informed decisions on questions ranging from the right time to tell coworkers to whether to travel for treatment. Because medical bankruptcies affect nearly two million Americans each year, Visel devotes several chapters to financial issues. He also addresses the effects of cancer on relationships, such as how to deal with a difficult parent or whether to reconcile with an estranged spouse. In addition, Living with Cancer provides a comprehensive overview of the most useful corporate, government, and non-profit resources available. Anyone looking for help in understanding the full range of personal, professional, and legal issues associated with cancer will welcome this book. As inspiring as it is informative, it is a survival guide in the truest sense.
An examination of the first attempt to conquer cancer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
In Malignant Growth: Creating the Modern Cancer Research Establishment, 1875–1915, Alan I Marcus explores a relatively understudied period in the history of cancer by providing a careful investigation of the first public crusade to determine the cause of cancer. The search for cancer’s cause during the heady era of bacteriology was colored by the Germ Theory of Disease. Researchers had demonstrated in malady after malady that each disease was the result of a singular and specific pathogenic agent. That model led investigators to optimistically conclude that they would soon find the cause of what was termed the “emperor of all maladies,” cases of which were apparently increasing at a prodigious rate worldwide.
In this accessible history of science and medicine, Marcus exposes the complex story of the efforts made from 1875 through 1915 to first conquer and, failing that, to control cancer—a dual approach that remains in force to this day. He reveals the messiness of real-time scientific research, tracing the repeated lurches of promise, discoveries of hope, and the inevitable despair that always followed. Other barriers existed to the research, such as inconsistency in test standards and inter-laboratory competition and mistrust. Researchers approached cancer from such disparate specialties as clinical medicine, zoology, botany, chemistry, nutrition, bacteriology, pathology, and microbiology. Although they came from diverse fields, each steadfastly maintained that cancer operated in an analogous fashion to other bacteriological diseases.
Virtually every country and a slew of various clinicians and investigators waged this first war on cancer, operating in remarkably diverse scientific venues. Cancer laboratories and hospitals, as well as organizations like the American Cancer Society, were born out of this first offensive on cancer. Even as cancer continues to proliferate today, these institutions that initially formed to defeat cancer more than a hundred years ago persist and continue to expand.
Mammography is a routine health screening performed forty million times each year in the United States, yet it remains one of the most deeply contested topics in medicine, with national health care organizations supporting conflicting guidelines. In Mammography Wars, sociologist Asia Friedman examines cultural and medical disagreements over mammography. At issue is whether to screen women under age fifty, which is rooted in deeper questions about early detection and the assumed linear and progressive development of breast cancer. Based on interviews with doctors and scientists, interviews with women ages 40 to 50, and newspaper coverage of mammography, Friedman uses the sociology of attention to map the cognitive structure of the “mammography wars,” offering insights into the entrenched nature of debates over mammography that often get missed when applying a medical lens. Friedman’s analysis also suggests the sociology of attention’s unique potential for analyzing cultural conflicts beyond mammography, and even beyond medicine.
Lee Johnson was a man with simple dreams. All he wanted was a steady job and a nice home for his wife and children, something better than the hard life he knew growing up. He never imagined that he would become the face of a David-and-Goliath showdown against one of the world’s most powerful corporate giants. But a workplace accident left Lee doused in a toxic chemical and facing a deadly cancer that turned his life upside down. In 2018, the world watched as Lee was thrust to the forefront of one the most dramatic legal battles in recent history.
The Monsanto Papers is the inside story of Lee Johnson’s landmark lawsuit against Monsanto. For Lee, the case was a race against the clock, with doctors predicting he wouldn’t survive long enough to take the witness stand. For the eclectic band of young, ambitious lawyers representing him, it was a matter of professional pride and personal risk, with millions of dollars and hard-earned reputations on the line. For the public at large, the lawsuit presented a question of corporate accountability. With enough money and influence, could a company endanger its customers, hide evidence, manipulate regulators, and get away with it all—for decades?
Readers will be astounded by the depth of corruption uncovered, captivated by the shocking twists, and moved by Lee’s quiet determination to see justice served. With gripping narrative force that reads like fiction, The Monsanto Papers takes readers behind the scenes of a grueling legal battle, pulling back the curtain on the frailties of the American court system and the lengths to which lawyers will go to fight corporate wrongdoing.
For more than fifty years, we have been waging, but not winning, the war on cancer. We’re better than ever at treating the disease, yet cancer still claims the lives of one in five men and one in six women in the US. The astonishing news is that up to two-thirds of all cancer cases are linked to preventable environmental causes. If we can stop cancer before it begins, why don’t we?
That was the question that motivated Kristina Marusic’s revelatory inquiry into cancer prevention. In searching for answers, she met remarkable doctors, scientists, and advocates who are upending our understanding of cancer and how to fight it. They recognize that we will never reduce cancer rates without ridding our lives of the chemicals that increasingly trigger this deadly disease.
Most never imagined this role for themselves. One scientist grew up without seeing examples of Indian-American women in the field, yet went on to make shocking discoveries about racial disparities in cancer risk. Another leader knew her calling was children’s health, but realized only later in her career that kids can be harmed by invisible pollutants at their daycares. Others uncovered surprising links between cancer and the everyday items that fill our homes and offices.
For these individuals, the fight has become personal. And it certainly is personal for Berry, a young woman whose battle with breast cancer is woven throughout these pages. Might Berry have dodged cancer had she not grown up in Oil City, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of refineries? There is no way to know for sure. But she is certain that, even with the best treatment available, her life was changed irrevocably by her diagnosis. Marusic shows that, collectively, we have the power to prevent many cases like Berry’s. The war on cancer is winnable—if we revolutionize the way we fight.
Not God: A Play in Verse
Marc J. Straus Northwestern University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3569.T69213N68 2006 | Dewey Decimal 812.54
The tread of the nurses leaving the room next door tells the woman her neighbor has died. The language of the hospital is one she has unwillingly, painstakingly learned: the rhythm of machines, the counting of pills, the measuring of words, the shadowy news of an MRI. And in these harrowing, eloquent poems, she opens this world, this language of illness, to us, revealing how deeply these words and rhythms are also the measure of life. The views of her doctor are also evocatively expressed--his anger, struggles, and hopes--as he speaks of the delicate bond he forms with his ill patients. Composed by a distinguished medical oncologist whose literary work has been performed in venues throughout the country, the poems of Not God document one woman's encounter with cancer, a journey through illness whose end, while inevitable, is also unknown. Alternating with the words of her doctor, these poems form a remarkable dialogue of the flesh becoming word, and of the body inventorying--and finally transcending--its limitations.
In Not Quite a Cancer Vaccine, medical anthropologist S.D. Gottlieb explores how the vaccine Gardasil—developed against the most common sexually-transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV)—was marketed primarily as a cervical cancer vaccine. Gardasil quickly became implicated in two pre-existing debates—about adolescent sexuality and pediatric vaccinations more generally.
Prior to its market debut, Gardasil seemed to offer female empowerment, touting protection against HPV and its potential for cervical cancer. Gottlieb questions the marketing pitch’s vaunted promise and asks why vaccine marketing unnecessarily gendered the vaccine’s utility, undermining Gardasil’s benefit for men and women alike. This book demonstrates why in the ten years since Gardasil’s U.S. launch its low rates of public acceptance have their origins in the early days of the vaccine dissemination. Not Quite a Cancer Vaccine addresses the on-going expansion in U.S. healthcare of patients-as-consumers and the ubiquitous, and sometimes insidious, health marketing of large pharma.
In a series of unflinching vignettes laced with heartbreak and often with humor, Places in the Bone gives an unforgettable account of loss and survival, childhood secrets banished from memory, and the power of language to retrieve the missing parts of oneself and one’s past. Woven together with unmistakable lyricism, Carol Dine’s narrative moves back and forth in time and place—from the childhood bedroom that fills her with fear, to a hospital room after her surgery for breast cancer, to an adobe hut in a New Mexico artists’ colony where she escapes and finds her voice.
This voice, it turns out, is a chorus—a harmony of cries, both anguished and triumphant. Among them we hear a young girl speak about the abuse by her father; we hear the tormented reflections of a mother who, for several years after a divorce, loses contact with her young son; and we hear the testimony of a cancer survivor. Through it all, we feel the determination, courage, and creativity of a woman who has spent more than two decades confronting her past, her body, and her identity. Despite her struggles, Dine finds positive influences in her life, including her mentor, Anne Sexton, who recognizes the fire in her words, and Stanley Kunitz, whose indomitable spirit provides enduring inspiration.
More than a story of personal loss, the memoir moves us with its humanity, its unnerving wit, and its defiant faith. As the fragments come together, we experience Dine’s joy in living and her reconciliation with the past that allow her to renew bonds with her son, her sister, and her mother. In page after page, we witness the power of art to refigure a body, to transform suffering, and ultimately, to redeem.
The Politics of Breast Cancer
Maureen Hogan Casamayou Georgetown University Press, 2001 Library of Congress RC280.B8C394 2001 | Dewey Decimal 362.196994490097
Between 1990 and 1993, breast cancer activism became a significant political movement. The issue began to receive extensive media attention, and federal funding for breast cancer research jumped dramatically. Describing the origins of this surge in interest, Maureen Hogan Casamayou attributes it to the emergence of politically potent activism among breast cancer survivors and their supporters. Exploring the creation and development of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), she shows how many of its key leaders were mobilized by their own traumatic experiences with the disease and its treatments.
Casamayou details the NBCC’s meteoric rise and impressive lobbying efforts, explaining how—in contrast to grassroots movements founded by dedicated individuals—the coalition grew from the simultaneous efforts of a network of women who invested their time, energy, money, and professional skills in the fight for increased funding for breast cancer research. This multiple leadership—or collective entrepreneurialism, says Casamayou—was crucial to the NBCC’s success framing the issue in the minds of the public and policymakers alike.
Precision medicine is a rapidly-evolving field in the management of cancer. The use of novel molecular or genetic signatures in local-regional management is still in its infancy. Precision Radiation Oncology demystifies this state-of-the-art research and technology.
By describing current existing clinical and pathologic features, and focusing on the ability to improve outcomes in cancer using radiation therapy, this book discusses incorporating novel genomic- or biology-based biomarkers in the treatment of patients moving radiation oncology into precision/personalized medicine. Precision Radiation Oncology provides readers with an overview of the new developments of precision medicine in radiation oncology, further advancing the integration of new research findings into individualized radiation therapy and its clinical applications.
Written by a surviving prostate cancer patient and his urologist, Prostate Cancer: Making Survival Decisions provides not just a physician's overview of the disease, but the compassion, understanding, and frankness of a man who's lived through the experience. From the first symptoms to early diagnosis to life after treatment, journalist Sylvan Meyer details every facet of the disease from the patient's point of view. Along with a clear, complete guide to the latest treatments, techniques, and findings, Meyer outlines the tough decisions the patient will face; describes what it's like to go through all the tests, the treatment, and the recovery; and provides an understanding of how the patient himself can affect the outcome.
Thoroughly researched and imbued with great sensitivity, Prostate Cancer: Making Survival Decisions is the most informative and illuminating book about prostate cancer available. Not just an indispensable tool for those who have been diagnosed or are at risk, this is an important guide for anyone who seeks a better understanding of this enigmatic disease and the controversies surrounding it.
After nine years of keeping his prostate cancer at bay, the clinical trials and cancer drugs lost their effectiveness. Instead of withdrawing from the world, Jeff Metcalf chose to dive deeper into writing, challenging himself to write one essay each week for a year. That collection of fifty-two essays was chosen by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums as the winner of their 2012 Original Writing Competition. Requiem for the Living contains the best of these essays, selected and reworked by the author, who continues to defy his earlier diagnosis. The essays form a unique memoir, painting a rich portrait of a man who has had a full and engaging life. Funny, moving and profoundly personal, they celebrate living and serve as a reminder to us all. He does not describe a life defined by cancer but rather writes to discover what his life has been, who he has become, and what he has learned along the way.
Recipient of the Mayor's Award in Literary Arts at the Utah Arts Festival in 2015.
Scientific Characters chronicles the contests over character, knowledge, trust, and truth in a politically charged scientific controversy that erupted after a 1994 Chicago Tribune headline: “Fraud in Breast Cancer Research: Doctor Lied on Data for Decade.” In the aftermath of this dramatic news, Dr. Bernard Fisher, the eminent oncologist and celebrated pioneer of breast cancer research, came under intense scrutiny following allegations that one of his investigators falsified data in landmark breast cancer research. Although he was eventually cleared of all wrongdoing, the controversy called into question the treatment decisions of tens of thousands of women, because Fisher’s research had demonstrated that lumpectomy and radiation were as effective as breast removal for early stage cancers—a finding that was hailed as revolutionary in women’s health care.
Moving back and forth between news coverage, medical journals, letters to the editor, and oncology pamphlets, Lisa Keränen draws insights from rhetoric, literary studies, sociology, and science studies to analyze the roles of character in shaping the outcomes of the “Datagate” controversy. Throughout the scandal, debates about the character of Fisher and other key players endured, showing how scientific knowledge is shaped by perceptions of the personal temperament, trustworthiness, integrity, and transparency of those who produce it. As administrators, politicians, scientists, patients, journalists, and citizens attempted to make sense of what had happened, and to assess the integrity of the research, they raised questions, assigned blame, attributed responsibility, and reshaped the norms of scientific practice. Scientific Characters thusaddresses what happens when scientists, patients, and advocates are called to defend themselves in public concerning complex technical matters with direct implications for human life. In assessing the rhetoric that animated Datagate, Scientific Characters sheds light on the challenges faced by scientists and citizens as science becomes more bureaucratized, dispersed, and accountable to varied publics.
The images and stories in this book were created by patients and families living with Cancer and Blood Disorders. Their expressions, created in the sand and conveyed through the written word, provide insight into what it is like to live with health challenges. Sand tray therapy is a recognized therapeutic modality used with children and adults, providing a sacred space to process experiences using symbols instead of language. Sometimes meaning is further revealed through talking about a sand tray. Other times, it can remain a private expression that holds significance only to its creator. It is a helpful way for youth to process their past and present medical experience, help them set goals, and to teach others about their needs. Sand tray is a window into the thoughts, feelings, and coping styles of youth struggling with illness and hospitalization. Importantly, as youth with chronic medical illnesses often experience pain and discomfort as part of their treatment, the ability to have positive tactile experiences can be a very healing process. This collection of photos and personal stories, facilitated by the Child and Family Life Department, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, was compiled so that other patients, their families, and their friends can share the authors’ journeys as we all continue to battle these difficult diseases.
“No eyebrows. No eyelashes. When it rains the water will run straight down into my eyes,” Catherine Lord wrote before her hair fell out during chemotherapy. Propelled into an involuntary performance piece occasioned by the diagnosis of breast cancer, Lord adopted the online persona of Her Baldness—an irascible, witty, polemical presence who speaks candidly about shame and fear to her listserv audience. While Lord suffers from unwanted isolation and loss of control as her treatment progresses, Her Baldness talks back to the society that stigmatizes bald women, not to mention middle-aged lesbians with a life-threatening disease. In this irreverent and moving memoir, Lord draws on the e-mail correspondence of Her Baldness to offer an unconventional look at life with breast cancer and the societal space occupied by the seriously ill. She photographs herself and the rooms in which she negotiates her disease. She details the clash of personalities in support groups, her ambivalence about Western medicine, her struggles to maintain her relationship with her partner, and her bemusement when she is mistaken for a “sir.” She uses these experiences—common to the one-in-eight women who will be diagnosed at some point with breast cancer—to illuminate larger issues of gender signifiers, sexuality, and the construction of community.
In 2014 Barbados introduced a vaccine to prevent certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and reduce the risk of cervical cancer in young women. Despite the disproportionate burden of cervical cancer in the Caribbean, many Afro-Barbadians chose not to immunize their daughters. In Suspicion, Nicole Charles reframes Afro-Barbadian vaccine refusal from a question of hesitancy to one of suspicion. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, black feminist theory, transnational feminist studies and science and technology studies, Charles foregrounds Afro-Barbadians' gut feelings and emotions and the lingering trauma of colonial and biopolitical violence. She shows that suspicion, far from being irrational, is a fraught and generative affective orientation grounded in concrete histories of mistrust of government and coercive medical practices foisted on colonized peoples. By contextualizing suspicion within these longer cultural and political histories, Charles troubles traditional narratives of vaccine hesitancy while offering new entry points into discussions on racialized biopolitics, neocolonialism, care, affect, and biomedicine across the Black diaspora.
Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award recipient
“Tell Me a Riddle” renders an unforgettable portrait of a working class couple when the gender determined differences in their experiences of poverty and familial life give rise to bitter conflict after almost four decades of marriage. As she dies from cancer, Eva, the protagonist, recollects a revolutionary past that both critiques and offers hope for the present. Deborah Rosenfelt’s introduction and the essays in this volume survey the critical reception of this highly acclaimed story, analyze its biographical and historical contexts, examine the text’s language, structure, spiritual and moral significance, and illuminate Olsen’s relationship to the American midwest, the American left, and the Jewish enlightenment tradition.
This casebook includes an introduction by the editor, a chronology of Olsen’s life, an authoritative text of “Tell Me a Riddle,” relevant essays by Olsen, seven critical essays, and a bibliography.
The contributors are: Joanne Trautmann Banks, Constance Coiner, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Mara Faulkner, Elaine Orr, Linda Ray Pratt, and Deborah Silverton Rosenfelt.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • Winner of The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award
A new classic of science reporting.”—The New York Times
The true story of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and has been hailed by The New York Times as "a new classic of science reporting." Now available in paperback with a new afterword by acclaimed author Dan Fagin, the book masterfully blends hard-hitting investigative journalism, scientific discovery, and unforgettable characters.
One of New Jersey’s seemingly innumerable quiet seaside towns, Toms River became the unlikely setting for a decades-long drama that culminated in 2001 with one of the largest environmental legal settlements in history. For years, large chemical companies had been using Toms River as their private dumping ground, burying tens of thousands of leaky drums in open pits and discharging billions of gallons of acid-laced wastewater into the town’s namesake river. The result was a notorious cluster of childhood cancers scientifically linked to local air and water pollution.
Fagin recounts the sixty-year saga of rampant pollution and inadequate oversight that made Toms River a cautionary tale. He brings to life the pioneering scientists and physicians who first identified pollutants as a cause of cancer and the everyday people in Toms River who struggled for justice: a young boy whose cherubic smile belied the fast-growing tumors that had decimated his body from birth; a nurse who fought to bring the alarming incidence of childhood cancers to the attention of authorities who didn’t want to listen; and a mother whose love for her stricken child transformed her into a tenacious advocate for change.
Rooted in a centuries-old scientific quest, Toms River is an epic of dumpers at midnight and deceptions in broad daylight, of corporate avarice and government neglect, and of a few brave individuals who refused to keep silent until the truth was exposed.
Under the Devil's Thumb
David Gessner University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress RC265.6.G47A3 1999 | Dewey Decimal 362.196994630092
David Gessner first moved to Colorado in the wake of a bout with cancer. In Under the Devil's Thumb, this young New Englander takes readers on a joyous quest to discover the mysteries of the western landscape and the landscape of the soul as well.
In the West Gessner began to rewrite his life. Under the Devil's Thumb is a story of rugged determination and sweat, as well as humor, adventure and hope. In and around his new hometown of Boulder, Colorado, Gessner hiked hard and ran alongside flooded creeks. He found that the West was a place of stories—stories that grow out of the ground, flow out of the dirt, work their way through one's limbs, and drive people to push their physical limits. Hiking up scree slopes toward the Devil's Thumb, a massive outcrop of orange rock that attracts climbers, hikers, and contemplaters, Gessner reflects on the illness he has so recently survived. He pushes his physical limits, hoping to outrun death, to outrun dread. He finds momentary transcendence in the joys and self-inflicted pain of mountain biking. "Nothing but the hardest ride has the power to flush out worry, mind clutter, and dread." In tranquil moments he seeks a chance to recover an animal self that is strong and powerful enough to conquer mountains, but also still and quiet enough to see things human beings ignore.
In the mountain West, Gessner finds what Wallace Stegner called "the geography of hope." He finds within himself an interior landscape that is healthy and strong. Combining memoir, nature writing, and travel writing, Under the Devil's Thumb is one man's journey deep into a place of healing.
At the end of the Second World War, a diagnosis of cancer was a death sentence. Sixty years later, it is considered a chronic disease rather than one that is invariably fatal. Although survival rates have improved, the very word continues to evoke a special terror and guilt, inspiring scientists and politicians to wage war against it.
In Under the Radar, Ellen Leopold shows how nearly every aspect of our understanding and discussion of cancer bears the imprint of its Cold War entanglement. The current biases toward individual rather than corporate responsibility for rising incidence rates, research that promotes treatment rather than prevention, and therapies that can be patented and marketed all reflect a largely hidden history shaped by the Cold War. Even the language we use to describe the disease, such as the guiding metaphor for treatment, "fight fire with fire," can be traced back to the middle of the twentieth century.
Writing in a lucid style, Leopold documents the military, governmental, industrial, and medical views of radiation and atomic energy to examine the postwar response to cancer through the prism of the Cold War. She explores the role of radiation in cancer therapies today, using case studies and mammogram screening, in particular, to highlight the surprising parallels. Taking into account a wide array of disciplines, this book challenges our understanding of cancer and how we approach its treatment.
Examines the postwar response to cancer through the prism of the Cold War
Goes beyond medical science to look at the influence of Cold War policies on the way we think about cancer today
Links the experience of postwar cancer patients with the broader evolution of what have become cancer industries
Traces the history of human-made radiation as a state-sponsored environmental toxin
Winner of the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, and Gender 2013 Outstanding Book Award
Winner of the 2013 Bonnie Ritter Book Award from the Feminist and Women's Division of the National Communication Association
The feminist women’s health movement of the 1960s and 1970s is credited with creating significant changes in the healthcare industry and bringing women’s health issues to public attention. Decades later, women’s health issues are more visible than ever before, but that visibility is made possible by a process of depoliticization
The Vulnerable Empowered Woman assesses the state of women’s healthcare today by analyzing popular media representations—television, print newspapers, websites, advertisements, blogs, and memoirs—in order to understand the ways in which breast cancer, postpartum depression, and cervical cancer are discussed in American public life. From narratives about prophylactic mastectomies to young girls receiving a vaccine for sexually transmitted disease, the representations of women’s health today form a single restrictive identity: the vulnerable empowered woman. This identity defuses feminist notions of collective empowerment and social change by drawing from both postfeminist and neoliberal ideologies. The woman is vulnerable because of her very femininity and is empowered not to change the world, but to choose from among a limited set of medical treatments.
The media’s depiction of the vulnerable empowered woman’s relationship with biomedicine promotes traditional gender roles and affirms women’s unquestioning reliance on medical science for empowerment. The book concludes with a call to repoliticize women’s health through narratives that can help us imagine women—and their relationship to medicine—differently.
Waiting for Cancer to Come tells the stories of women who are struggling with their high risk for cancer. Based on interviews and surveys of dozens of women, this book pieces together the diverse yet interlocking experiences of women who have tested positive for the BRCA 1/2 gene mutations, which indicate a higher risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Sharlene Hesse-Biber brings these narratives to light and follows women’s journeys from deciding to get screened for BRCA, to learning the test has come back positive, to dealing with their risk. Many women already know the challenges of a family history riddled with cancer and now find themselves with the devastating knowledge of their own genetic risk. Using the voices of the women themselves to describe the under-explored BRCA experience, Waiting for Cancer to Come looks at the varied emotional, social, economic, and psychological factors at play in women’s decisions about testing and cancer prevention.
Rachel Carson Environment Book Award, First Place (2018)
IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year: Most Likely to Save the Planet (2018)
Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award (2018)
"Reads like a mystery novel as Gillam skillfully uncovers Monsanto's secretive strategies." —Erin Brockovich
"A damning picture...Gillam expertly covers a contentious front." —Publishers Weekly
"A must-read." —Booklist
"Hard-hitting, eye-opening narrative." —Kirkus
It's the pesticide on our dinner plates, a chemical so pervasive it’s in the air we breathe, our water, our soil, and even found increasingly in our own bodies. Known as Monsanto's Roundup by consumers, and as glyphosate by scientists, the world's most popular weed killer is used everywhere from backyard gardens to golf courses to millions of acres of farmland. For decades it's been touted as safe enough to drink, but a growing body of evidence indicates just the opposite, with research tying the chemical to cancers and a host of other health threats.
In Whitewash, veteran journalist Carey Gillam uncovers one of the most controversial stories in the history of food and agriculture, exposing new evidence of corporate influence. Gillam introduces readers to farm families devastated by cancers which they believe are caused by the chemical, and to scientists whose reputations have been smeared for publishing research that contradicted business interests. Readers learn about the arm twisting of regulators who signed off on the chemical, echoing company assurances of safety even as they permitted higher residues of the pesticide in food and skipped compliance tests. And, in startling detail, Gillam reveals secret industry communications that pull back the curtain on corporate efforts to manipulate public perception.
Whitewash is more than an exposé about the hazards of one chemical or even the influence of one company. It's a story of power, politics, and the deadly consequences of putting corporate interests ahead of public safety.
You Got Older: A Play
Clare Barron Northwestern University Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3602.A837246Y68 2017 | Dewey Decimal 812.6
Winner of a 2015 Obie Award for Playwriting
Mae has returned home to help her father while he undergoes treatment for cancer. But she needs a little help herself. She’s just lost her boyfriend and her job. (It turns out there are consequences to dating your boss . . .) And she’s desperately craving intimacy of any sort. Mae escapes into the the arms of a chain-smoking, imaginary Cowboy who turns her on and ties her up. And she escapes into chatter with her siblings as they attempt to distract and entertain themselves in a hospital waiting room. But ultimately, it’s her deep love for her father that teaches Mae to remain optimistic and ambitious in the face of suffering and that gets her back on track.
In May of 1986 Edward Kamau Brathwaite learned that his wife, Doris, was dying of cancer and had only a short time to live. Responding as a poet, he began “helplessly & spasmodically” to record her passage in a diary. Zea Mexican is a collection of excerpts from this diary and other notes from this period of the Brathwaites’ lives, and few who read this book will fail to be caught up in the depth of Edward Brathwaite’s grief.
Zea Mexican is a tribute to Doris Brathwaite and an exploration of the creative potency of love. (The title comes from the name Brathwaite gave Doris, who was originally from Guyana of part Amerindian descent.) Exposing the intimacy of his marriage, this book is the closest Brathwaite has ever come to an autobiographical statement. In examining his life with Doris he found the courage to reveal something of his own character. But, more than an autobiography, Zea Mexican is an extraordinary work of literature, much of it written in the expressive “nation language” of Jamaica and the Caribbean. Brathwaite filters his pain through his poetic gift, presenting it to the reader with all the poignancy poetry conveys.