Thursday, January 10, 2013

crab walk

Title: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Author: Siddartha Mukherjee
Bookmark: nookmark

I got a nook for Christmas, and while I thought the most appropriate choice for the first thing to read on it would either be The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy or anything by William Gibson, this is the first thing I bought, and the first thing I read.  I regret nothing.

Cancer is kind of a big deal for me.  Twelve years and eight days ago, it killed my mom.  She had been diagnosed a little over two years earlier with inoperable, incurable, stage IV lung cancer.  She still fought it all the way down.  We all did.  That's how we react to cancer.  With everything we have, every moment, every day, until it's over.  One way or another.

And that's how it's always been.  Mukherjee's book is brilliant.  He takes us through history's understanding of cancer, starting with the ancient Egyptian physician Imhotep who, in what may be the earliest identification of cancer, listed as its therapy "There is none."  We march relentlessly through the ages, meeting some of Mukherjee's own patients (he is also a practicing oncologist), and the celebrities of cancer research and treatment.

The book is a tome, even in digital form, but it's well worth the time.  It has been meticulously researched and written specifically for the layperson, reading like a novel, but with an all-too-real impact on our world.

Honestly, as I read it, I wondered how I could write a review that would do it justice, and I'm not sure I can.  Perhaps it's too fresh in my mind.  I just finished this afternoon, and when I reached the final pages, and a heartfelt understanding of the battle fought by cancer patients, I remembered Mom.  I remembered other family members who have survived cancer, and I remembered the role reversal that took place when I nursed Mom through her final months.  I can never forgive cancer for the suffering it caused my family, but I understand it better now.  That's something.

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posted by reyn at 6:56 PM


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