The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest Mystery
© 2013 George Johnson
As a kid, Cancer was an ominous abstract monster, mentioned only in whispers, that struck without warning and left no survivors. You just hoped it didn’t happen to you. I don’t know it’s the changing times or just the process of adulthood, but cancer is mentioned far more and more casually now, and I’ve some experience with it in my own family, so I wanted to learn a little more about it. The Cancer Chronicles combines the author’s personal journey with cancer, beginning when evidence of metastasis is discovered in his wife, with a review of how humanity has grown in its understand of cancer over the centuries. There is no one cancer demographic: everyone, in every society, regardless of creed, caste, or skin color, carries a bundle of risk factors for different cancers – and every action, every step taken, every food eaten, can simultaneously aid or diminish different cancer risks. Johnson’s review reiterates that cancer is not one disease, but a multitude of diseases, erupting from a variety of different failures – and sometimes utilizing the body’s defenses against it. Perhaps we can take some marginal comfort in that cancer is universal, affecting all kinds of animals through the ages. Humans are the most cancer-ridden creature on the planet, though, so it may be a small help at best. In the end, there’s not much we can do to load the dice in our factor, other than keeping moving and at a healthy weight. It seems a crapshoot.