The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Cancer is terrifying. It’s our own bodies, out of control. Nobody is immune to cancer – given enough time alive, pretty much everyone will develop a tumor of some sort, and that’s a very unnerving thought. You will get cancer. If you can avoid heart disease and diabetes and keep yourself away from car crashes and shark attacks, you will be rewarded, someday, if you live long enough, with cancer. While we’ve come a tremendously long way in diagnosing and treating cancer, we haven’t come that much closer to winning our war against it, and that’s what this book is about.
The author is a doctor and a cancer researcher, and he has set out to describe Cancer’s life story, from the first descriptions of cancerous growths in old Egyptian texts to the latest interferon treatments, and he does so in a way that the layperson can wrap his mind around. It’s fascinating, horrifying, and inspiring, to read about the rise and fall of radical treatments, the leaps forward in fundamental research, and the strength and struggle of the millions of patients dealing with their cancers over the span of medical history. It’s a good balance between the science and the humanity of the disease: molecular and genetic breakthroughs and the early rise of breast cancer awareness campaigns and patient advocacy groups.
Like I said, it’s on the must-read list. Cancer has touched someone in your life, or it will, and this is its story. Know the enemy.