The book which touched me profoundly in recent times was Siddhartha Mukherjee’s, 2011 Pulitzer prizewinner ‘The Emperor Of All Maladies- A biography of cancer”.
The book is so lucidly written that even a non-medico like me, was hooked onto to it, almost as if I was reading a thrilling page-turner. The writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee, himself a cancer-researcher and physician, in this book, traces the history of the dreaded disease and shares profound insights, which he has garnered while treating and interacting with the cancer-stricken.
What is that I liked the most about this scientifically researched book? It was the emotional and human aspect of the disease, which the author has so eloquently explained.
The real-life case histories, which recount the psyche, the personal struggle of the cancer-stricken, left a deep impact on me. Amazingly, it was not a philosophical book, but the biography of cancer, which made me more appreciative of life.
For me, this book has changed my understanding of not just the way the doctors and researchers function, but also the way close relationships and human nature change, when tested to the core: which unfortunately cancer does.
It may sound ominous, but, through his book, Siddhartha Mukherjee makes one realize the reality of our current lives: longevity entails cancer. Hence, it is not the question of ‘if’, but really ‘when’ we will encounter the Emperor.
National Cancer Institute pegs figures of 47,150 for new cases of leukemia (cancer of the blood cells) alone and 23,540 deaths from the disease in the United States alone for 2012. Unfortunately, I do not have any such data for India, but I know cancer is a growing reality, because one hears of the dreaded “C” word more often now even in the small cross-section of society I interact with.
Would I recommend the book to be read? Yes, just be a little patient, is all I say. It is a heavy read, but, does not make one feel morbid. If you are interested in the human aspect of a disease, then this book is sure to touch you.
This book is one of the reasons, why I will soon begin blogging on cancer research and cancer –related news (follow my blog for more info!). On a personal level, now I often stop by to smell the flowers, listen to the birds chirp and appreciate the simple, small joys of life. In other words, I have learnt to count my blessings and not look at life as a ladder to be climbed, but as a journey to be savored along with fellow travelers.