Things I learned from The Emperor of All Maladies, a book about cancer:
- Curing cancer almost sounds futile. Cancer cells behave like normal cells. The challenge is to find chemicals that would know how to differentiate the two.
- The problem is cancer cells are smart-asses. Aside from mimicking normal cells, they replicate like crazy and they can move to or hijack other organs. On a molecular level, there are cancer cells that are so smooth so cancer-killing chemicals can’t anchor onto them. Scientists have to inspect them even more closely just to find a trench or a pocket into which their drugs may fit. This also means they need to discover/create drugs whose molecular structure and shape would fit into such trenches.
- Yes, it’s that complicated. (What’s that about your Facebook relationship status again?)
- In ancient Egypt, a queen felt so much pain from her breast cancer she ordered her slave to cut off her breasts.
- In the late 1800s, radical mastectomy was the norm. Pioneered by William Halstead, the surgery meant to remove not just the breast but as much of the tissues and muscles surrounding the breast, chest, shoulders, and armpits. Women who underwent the procedure were left severely disfigured and hollow in those areas. The Halstead surgery persisted as recently as the 1950s.
- We have come a long way since then in a shorter period of time.
- The book’s author thus argues that it may take this generation (or the next) even much shorter time to find a cancer cure.
- By the way, it’s impossible to have one cure for all cancer types. All must be dealt with differently.
- In my view, if you’ve survived cancer, you are extremely lucky. It took a series a fortunate events and accidents for that to have happened.
- In my case, if ever I get it, I hope I can be as graceful as this article suggests: How Doctors Die
- I learned a lot but yeah, why did I read this book?