Anthony Daniels

The Unnameable

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

By

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There was a strange ritual on one of the wards in which I worked as a young doctor. Before the chief did his rounds, the medical notes of all the patients would be put out on their bed tables, ready for him to consult – except those of the patients with cancer. They were not the only patients on the ward with potentially fatal conditions, of course; but cancer was regarded as a disease so awful, with an outcome inevitably so degrading, that it shamed the patient and doctor alike, and therefore could not be named or referred to. Cancer was held in a peculiar kind of appalled awe.

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