Excerpts From Making Cancer History
This isn’t a coffee table book. It contains humor, drama, medical disputes, political intrigue — that will keep you turning pages.
While the book comprehensively covers the medical complexities of cancer and our physicians’ and scientists’ heroic attempts — some failed and some achieved — to eradicate cancer as a “killer,” it also talks about the culture of the times.
As a young medical student returning to Virginia after a summer in Texas, (R.Lee) Clark was hitchhiking through Atlanta when one building at Emory University caught his attention. Clad in Georgia Etowah pink marble, it seemed to his artistic fancy a beacon of peace and hope. The drabness of the wooden barracks at the Baker estate offended his aesthetic taste, and he dreamed of building a new home for M. D. Anderson... Read the full excerpt
When Lurleen Wallace, governor of Alabama and wife of former Alabama governor George Wallace, checked into M. D. Anderson with metastatic ovarian cancer in 1967, the new order in race relations was well established. Four years earlier, Lurleen’s husband had fulfilled a campaign promise by barring the entrance of two black students in a symbolic attempt to prevent integration at the University of Alabama. “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” he had proclaimed during his first inaugural address. Read the full excerpt
Frei and Freireich revolutionized the treatment of childhood leukemia. The 1955 trial constituted the first ever quantitative prospective, experimental design for cancer treatment, demonstrating that complete remission after treatment with 6-MP ormethotrexate most reliably prognosticated survival. Achieving complete remission quickly became the initial goal. Patients were treated even after that point because of the recognition that it was not possible to be certain that every leukemia cell had been killed. Read the full excerpt
The disease had defied medical logic for so long that people had endowed it with metaphorical power, as if it were a conscious entity. Cancer is “malignant” and “insidious,” many described, and “eats” its way into “victims,” “devouring” them until, skin and bones, they expire. In 1893, British poet Rudyard Kipling, in his poem “Children of the Zodiac,” warned, “Cancer the Crab lies so still that you might think he was asleep if you did not see the ceaseless play and winnowing motion of the feathery branches around his mouth Read the full excerpt
With the banality of getting a cavity filled, M. D. Anderson scheduled an amputation. On December 28, 1987, Judy and I arose very early. Six years in the M. D. Anderson clinics had taught the virtues of punctuality. A crescent moon as thin as a cut fingernail hung in the sky. To save money, the hospital had abandoned overnight stays on the eve of some surgeries.Read the full excerpt
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Johns Hopkins University Press