I’m adding a new category to my book reviews. I always love the little paragraph about the particular font chosen for a book you find in some books. I don’t know that I can see the characteristics that are described, but it’s fun nonetheless. I’ve decided to start sharing the font used if the information is provided in a book. Anyways, on to the book review!
Subtitle: Unlocking Medicine’s Deepest Mystery
Genre: nonfiction science
Length: 204 pages of story, 284 pages with index and notes
Font: Adobe Garamond
Interest: The author was interviews on a Quirks and Quarks podcast. I perk up my ears any time cancer is discussed and the book sounded interesting, so I put it on my reading list.
Summary: George’s wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with and died of uterine cancer. That sent him on a journey to better understand the biology of cancer and its treatment. He starts out with fossil evidence of cancer in animals and humans, and looks at what causes cancer. Beyond a few major causes, like tobacco and obesity, we usually don’t know that cause of cancer. From there, he discusses cancer before modern medicine and what we understand about cancer today, in terms of both its causes and its physiology. Finally, he discusses the details of chemo and radiation. Throughout the scientific evidence he’s presenting, he also weaves the story of his wife’s cancer.
Final thoughts: This was a thought-provoking book that I had to take notes on, like the following:
How much easier cancer would be if it were obviously driven by chemical contaminants. Instead there is a muddle of many little influences. High among hem is entropy – the natural tendency of the world toward disorder. Of the multiple mutations it takes to start a cancer there is no way to know which was caused by what. Or, in the case of spontaneous mutations – copying errors – if there was any cause at all. p. 108
With every division [of our cells] there are imperfections. That is the nature of living in a universe dominated by entropy… If we lived long enough, Weinberg observes, we all would eventually get cancer. That doesn’t mean that we can’t reduce the odds, even if only modestly, that we will get cancer before something else kills us. But genetic errors are inevitable and necessary for us to evolve. p. 186
Nothing too earth-shattering, although it did removed all traces of guilt that I did something wrong to cause my breast cancer. I also found some of his tangents, like looking for tumors in dinosaur bones or going to cancer conferences, to be quite fascinating. By including his wife’s story throughout the book, it did keep the book grounded in humanity. There were a couple of times I had to take a short break from the book because it was talking about dying of cancer (which happens a lot, I know, but I don’t want to think about).
Title comes from: It’s descriptive of the subject.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 19/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a C in the Alphabet Soup Title Challenge
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or subtitle to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!