An astute and valuable resource for both cancer physicians and patients.

OFF OUR CHESTS

A couple share their up-close and personal story of trouncing cancer.

In this memoir, the Marshalls take readers to the front lines of their triumphant battle against a cancer that invaded not only the wife’s body, but also their 22-year marriage. Liza was 43 years old when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, one of the most virulent and deadly forms of the disease. Ironically, her husband, John, was a world-renowned oncologist who had witnessed more than 1,700 of his 2,500 patients die. He voices strong opinions about the state of medical care in America in these pages. The book stands out among other first-person accounts about surviving cancer because of the authors’ striking frankness throughout the 340 pages. That’s not to say that the story is a downer. Although the account is flat-out honest and holds back nothing, the Marshalls inject lighter touches that balance the gravity of the situation. (“A brief history of my breasts. There were two of them.”) The couple’s emotional experiences at times diverge. A telling moment was their shopping trip to choose a wig for Liza. She and the couple’s children embraced the excursion as a fun family adventure. But John was roiling inside because the trip made Liza’s disease more real than he could handle. He notes that cancer is an entire family experience and that “whatever skeletons are hiding in the closet rattle louder.” A rare blowup happened when Liza wanted an expensive medication for her unrelenting nausea. John retorted: “Do you know how much that drug costs?” The Marshalls’ book is exceptional because it is multifaceted, deeply insightful, and brings readers right into the room. Liza delivers extensive details, including that her diagnosis came a few days before Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, 2006. After months of agonizing tests, she opted for surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and participated in a clinical trial, with John largely supporting her selections. He was against or had mixed feelings about other choices but stayed silent because he felt they should be her decisions. Ultimately, the treatments were successful and Liza remains cancer-free.

An astute and valuable resource for both cancer physicians and patients.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64687-048-6

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2021

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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