The Emperor Of All Maladies- A biography of cancer

a book which touched me profoundly..even being a non-medic

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. 



About nishi01

Savoring and writing…
This entry was posted in Book, Book Review, Cancer, Health, photography, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Emperor Of All Maladies- A biography of cancer

  1. madammommy says:

    Loved this post. I started reading the book and was loving it, but stopped reading the book due to some personal issues. Another book you might enjoy is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (sp?)! That book appealed to the non medically inclined me and touched me deeply. Looking forward to more on this.

  2. Priya Menon says:

    Nishi, we have interviewed Siddharth Mukherjee, And you are absolutely right about the book. I too loved reading it…Priya

  3. dietriotgirl says:

    I think this book is worth a read given my situation ( My fiancee has stage 3 brain cancer). Cancer really is a vicious disease.

  4. tfaswift says:

    Yes, death comes to us all eventually, and it is so tragic that this terrible disease is one of the primary causes. One day our heart has to stop beating; we are not made to last forever. I made my peace with that a long time ago; actually, I don’t think I was ever afraid of being dead because I personally believe this life is just a stepping-stone. But I do worry about cancer and the suffering involved leading towards death. My auntie didn’t “officially” die from cancer, but she had bone cancer and both her legs were amputated. The cancer was gone, but she died shortly after anyway. People in my family say that she died from sorrow. I don’t know what the medical diagnosis was.

    • nishi01 says:

      Felt sad on reading this tfaswift. Realized we take the blessing of good health so much for granted.

      • tfaswift says:

        Sorry to make you feel sad. Someone said to me recently: without the dark, how do we know when it’s light? You’re right, when we hear these kinds of things, it makes us appreciate the things we all usually take for granted. I wish you excellent health always; you seem like a gentle and balanced soul who has found your peace in this turbulent and troubled world.

  5. nishi01 says:

    A heartfelt thank you tfaswift. Wish you the same too.

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