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Cancerland: A Medical Memoir

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A doctor's riveting story of loss and hope in the world of cancer. What is it like to encounter cancer? How does it feel to face the unknown, to enter a world of hope, loss, and dread? From the diagnosis of his childhood friend's mother to his poignant memories in the lab, David Scadden's seen the unknown world of cancer from the lens of a young boy, a classmate, a researc A doctor's riveting story of loss and hope in the world of cancer. What is it like to encounter cancer? How does it feel to face the unknown, to enter a world of hope, loss, and dread? From the diagnosis of his childhood friend's mother to his poignant memories in the lab, David Scadden's seen the unknown world of cancer from the lens of a young boy, a classmate, a researcher, a friend, a doctor, and a neighbor. Scadden chronicles his personal memories of cancer--his visits to his sick neighbor and his classmate who left school and never came back. Now Dr. David Scadden, co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and one of the world's leading experts on immunology and oncology, writes his memoir, Cancerland , with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D'Antonio. With riveting stories and moving compassion, Scadden and D'Antonio paint a still rapidly changing landscape in the context of all too common stories of loss. Ranging from Scadden's personal childhood memories to his triumphs and regrets as a doctor, Scadden illuminates a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Through opening a window into the science of medicine in the world of unknown, Scadden and D'Antonio humanize cancer while inspiring action that we all so desperately need.


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A doctor's riveting story of loss and hope in the world of cancer. What is it like to encounter cancer? How does it feel to face the unknown, to enter a world of hope, loss, and dread? From the diagnosis of his childhood friend's mother to his poignant memories in the lab, David Scadden's seen the unknown world of cancer from the lens of a young boy, a classmate, a researc A doctor's riveting story of loss and hope in the world of cancer. What is it like to encounter cancer? How does it feel to face the unknown, to enter a world of hope, loss, and dread? From the diagnosis of his childhood friend's mother to his poignant memories in the lab, David Scadden's seen the unknown world of cancer from the lens of a young boy, a classmate, a researcher, a friend, a doctor, and a neighbor. Scadden chronicles his personal memories of cancer--his visits to his sick neighbor and his classmate who left school and never came back. Now Dr. David Scadden, co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and one of the world's leading experts on immunology and oncology, writes his memoir, Cancerland , with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D'Antonio. With riveting stories and moving compassion, Scadden and D'Antonio paint a still rapidly changing landscape in the context of all too common stories of loss. Ranging from Scadden's personal childhood memories to his triumphs and regrets as a doctor, Scadden illuminates a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Through opening a window into the science of medicine in the world of unknown, Scadden and D'Antonio humanize cancer while inspiring action that we all so desperately need.

30 review for Cancerland: A Medical Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    David Scadden, M.D. titled his book Cancerland: A Medical Memoir. Truthfully, it’s more of a scientific history book. There’s very little in it that constitutes memoir, in the sense of personal experiences. He does tell a bit of his mother’s cancer story, and some parts of integrating family life with being a physician. On the other hand, Scadden discusses the science and medicine of cancer treatment. He’s actually participated, both clinically and by researching, so this is his personal experien David Scadden, M.D. titled his book Cancerland: A Medical Memoir. Truthfully, it’s more of a scientific history book. There’s very little in it that constitutes memoir, in the sense of personal experiences. He does tell a bit of his mother’s cancer story, and some parts of integrating family life with being a physician. On the other hand, Scadden discusses the science and medicine of cancer treatment. He’s actually participated, both clinically and by researching, so this is his personal experience. But from the reader’s perspective it doesn’t feel like a typical memoir. Okay, now I’ve got that off my chest. Here’s the rest. Dr. Scadden is a driven and clearly compassionate physician. His story is complex, mostly because he’s been involved in some innovative cancer treatments. Scadden explains these treatments in a way that balances science with layman’s terms. For example, he delves into stem cells, genetics, and immunotherapy, among other things. It’s complex stuff, and you need to know before you read that it takes some effort to absorb. But Scadden uses patient stories to help lighten the load. My conclusions Dr. Scadden worked with another writer, Michael D’Antonio, to craft this book. It can’t have been easy to make such high-level science accessible to regular folks. And Scadden doesn’t get carried away with egotistical pronouncements. In fact, he seems pretty humble to me considering his experiences. I appreciated learning about the other scientists with whom the author both learned and collaborated. No major scientific development happens instantaneously in a lab with a sole researcher. The team aspect of cancer research is quite evident here. Having just read two other books about the early days of treating HIV / AIDS, this was a good companion. The two types of research complemented each other more than I realized. Those other books were The Great Believers and Taking Turns. Each of these three books is unique, and they form a valuable triad of knowledge. Acknowledgements Many thanks to NetGalley, the authors, St. Martin’s Press, and Thomas Dunne Books for the opportunity to read a digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I did not particularly like this book. The topics were sometimes all over the place which made it hard to read. The author was derisive to those who have ethical objections to experimenting on embryonic stem cells, while using word play and denial to limit the amount he has to think about it himself. The author obviously isn’t particularly positive towards God or religious people, and throws in odd things like about how viruses made chimpanzees evolve into humans without any explanation of how w I did not particularly like this book. The topics were sometimes all over the place which made it hard to read. The author was derisive to those who have ethical objections to experimenting on embryonic stem cells, while using word play and denial to limit the amount he has to think about it himself. The author obviously isn’t particularly positive towards God or religious people, and throws in odd things like about how viruses made chimpanzees evolve into humans without any explanation of how we could possibly know this. A better book about cancer is “The Emperor of All Maladies,” which this book overlaps somewhat with in the historical information, though this book is mainly about the immune system and stem cells in cancer treatment. It should have been more interesting but the tone and the disorganization made me just want to get it over with.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    A stunning look at cancer treatment and research from a top Harvard oncologist. Poignant stories of patients battling the illness are interwoven with details on research efforts, including the pioneering stem cell expertise of the author. Highly recommended! Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books for an ARC. Opinions are mine. #Cancerland #NetGalley A stunning look at cancer treatment and research from a top Harvard oncologist. Poignant stories of patients battling the illness are interwoven with details on research efforts, including the pioneering stem cell expertise of the author. Highly recommended! Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books for an ARC. Opinions are mine. #Cancerland #NetGalley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marci

    This is a book that puts scientific discovery in cancer into clear perspective, and tells the story of how these advances are built on the continuing work of scientists, who sometimes succeed but often fail. This is a book best read in bits for anyone interested in cancer research and science. I will certainly refer to it, as connections are traced and made clear. An eloquent historic overview.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Learned a lot!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Dr. Scadden is an oncologist with several discoveries about cancer treatment under his belt. He is the co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on immunology as it applies to oncology. He, like most of us, has also encountered cancer up close and personal, in his own friends and family. And he’s treated numerous patients in his career. He tells us of his history of cancer care and research. It’s been a long, hard trail to get to effective treatments. C Dr. Scadden is an oncologist with several discoveries about cancer treatment under his belt. He is the co-founder of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and one of the world’s leading experts on immunology as it applies to oncology. He, like most of us, has also encountered cancer up close and personal, in his own friends and family. And he’s treated numerous patients in his career. He tells us of his history of cancer care and research. It’s been a long, hard trail to get to effective treatments. Cancer, it seems, is not one disease but many, many different disease, so there will never be a magic bullet that ‘cures cancer’. But stem cell research is finding cures for a number of cancers, the CRISPR gene allowing them to change the DNA of sick cells. These methods are more accurate than cutting huge amounts of the body away or the scorched earth methods of older chemotherapy. Reading the history of this research was fascinating. Near the end of the book the writing gets very technical, but it’s understandable by the average reader (okay, I had to read a few sentences twice, but I *managed* it!). One of the biggest problems in cancer research? Not enough funding, which is weird when you consider that EVERYONE knows people with cancer, if they don’t have it themselves! There is also the problem that there are people out there selling bogus ‘cures’ that lead patients away from treatments that could extend their lives. A really good book that I’d recommend to anyone interested in medical history or touched by cancer.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC! This book was truly fascinating, I thought I knew a fair amount about cancer and the therapies but it was so enlightening to read about how the history of cancer and the development of the treatments. The authors do not shy away from difficult subjects like the roles that politics, ego, funding and scientific fraud play in research. I am actually going to re-read this book because I want to remember most of the facts, particularly in ligh Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC! This book was truly fascinating, I thought I knew a fair amount about cancer and the therapies but it was so enlightening to read about how the history of cancer and the development of the treatments. The authors do not shy away from difficult subjects like the roles that politics, ego, funding and scientific fraud play in research. I am actually going to re-read this book because I want to remember most of the facts, particularly in light of the fact that some people think cancer is one disease and that treatments are being hidden. I was also pleased to see that the authors added facts about vaccinations and dealt with some other medical misconceptions in the book. It was however not a memoir for me, in the sense of other medical memoirs I have read. I would have liked to read more about the patients, although I am pleased that it was not chapters and chapters of the authors childhood/schooling etc as some are. The science however is easily explained in layman's terms and you will be astounded at the medical breakthroughs that have been made in the last 50 years. There really is so much to the book not only cancer, it includes HIV, Genome testing, Aging, The Tuskegee experiment, Immunology and more than I can add here. I highly recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    As a cancer researcher with a focus on triggering the immune system to fight the tumor I can honestly say: the book lacks focus, is an unconvincing mixture of memoir and science for the layperson and has some questionable comments. There are far better books to read if you're interested in the topic, and I'd start with "The Emperor of all Maladies" if you want to inform yourself. I actually didn't finish the last 10% of the book because I've decided this year to no longer waste my time if I don't As a cancer researcher with a focus on triggering the immune system to fight the tumor I can honestly say: the book lacks focus, is an unconvincing mixture of memoir and science for the layperson and has some questionable comments. There are far better books to read if you're interested in the topic, and I'd start with "The Emperor of all Maladies" if you want to inform yourself. I actually didn't finish the last 10% of the book because I've decided this year to no longer waste my time if I don't deem it necessary. What was the book about? Good question. I think the author wanted it to be about using the immune system to fight a tumor and his involvement in that quest, but it went all over the place, and then it went all over the place some more. For e.g.: he brings up the AIDS epidemic. I think to myself: cool, he's going to talk about how the immune system depletion lead to some cancers caused by viruses and then he may address how in present time we use the backbone of the virus to investigate cancer cells. Instead, Dr. Scadden opts to briefly mention the scare of the epidemic, the cancers caused by the depleted immune system (good), then proceeds to some unnecessary testimonials about how people died without making peace with their family and one poor mother didn't get to say goodbye to her son because he was so upset with her for not accepting his sexuality and the poor woman was heartbroken (yes, THE MOTHER, NOT THE AIDS PATIENT IS THE VICTIM in his opinion), then proceeds to talk about a former cancer drug that was the first treatment for AIDS (and fails to mention that it failed!), then some chapters later he talks finally about using the HIV backbone used as a Trojan horse to investigate cancer cells. And that's a standard in the book. He does the same thing with Coley's toxin - the first experiment to show the importance of the immune system in fighting off cancer - and he splits it up in multiple pieces which at the end are hard to connect. I assume for a non-scientist this work may cause some confusion. Another e.g.: Dr. Scadden mentions the term 'antigen' twice in his book. Once he explains it as a target for antibodies. The second time he explains it as a part of the molecule that can trigger an immune response. They're both correct but never in the first 90% of the book does he offer a unified definition of the term. Why not? No idea. At times Dr. Scadden lets his ego shine through the pages and it's an unsavory view: like when he talks about the effort to launch a new revolutionary research project which was headed by a very smart and competent individual, and he offers the disclaimer that the individual was not him. Ego check necessary. Also I got really tired about all the big names that he felt the need to drop in such a manner that read more like: 'look how great I am'. The memoir part tries to convince the audience that he is a caring doctor and researcher, but because of the general tone of the book, I ended up doubting his altruism. Why? Because the book is full of out of nowhere comments that seem to be kind but read malicious. The example of the mother and HIV patient above is one example (and I nearly abandoned the book at that point but I decided I'm not woke enough to not soldier through). I've read so many testimonials of how gay men were treated during the AIDS epidemic that I have no doubt the poor dying man had a right to maintain his self-esteem and refuse contact with a members of his family that had treated him poorly. I have toxic family members I never want to talk to, so why should anyone have to endure toxicity on their dying beds? Isn't dying of AIDS bad enough? Another bad example, also coming out of nowhere, was inserted into a talk about how labs usually organize meetings meant to offer feedback and guide trainees in their analysis of data and hypothesis. He first mentions that he tries to be gentle and informative in his feedback and also be gender inclusive. Cool, I think. Mentions that women have been disadvantaged (cool) and he tries to not make them feel comfortable in their pursuit of science (huh?). Then the bomb shell: he must tell us that the most arrogant postdoc he ever had was a woman and he had to fire her. WHY did we need this information????????????????????????? Also, Dr. David Scadden, if you ever read this review: I have worked in labs in 4 countries, and I interacted with a higher number of women than men in my past. Yes, both genders can be arrogant. Here's my observation though: the arrogant men were at a whole new level. I'm talking about saying flat out wrong scientific things and being flippant when a more experienced woman was trying gently (as you put it) to correct them. There were definitely parts in the book where I clearly agreed with the author - especially his comments about the unnecessary bans on stem cell research and his statements on the imperative for being an integral researcher. I agree with his main point that the immune system is probably the key to preventing more early cancer-related deaths and may even offer a longtime cure. But overall, the disorganization and questionable tone of the book were too off-putting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    St. Martin's Press and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Cancerland: A Medical Memoir. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given. The idea for this book stemmed from a conversation between the authors regarding the fact that so much of what happens in science remains unknown to those outside of STEM. As almost half of Americans will be stricken by cancer in some way, the step into "Cancerland" is foreign to many. The authors wanted to help bridge St. Martin's Press and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Cancerland: A Medical Memoir. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given. The idea for this book stemmed from a conversation between the authors regarding the fact that so much of what happens in science remains unknown to those outside of STEM. As almost half of Americans will be stricken by cancer in some way, the step into "Cancerland" is foreign to many. The authors wanted to help bridge that gap in knowledge, to give readers a first-hand view of what they may face in their lifetimes. The look at advancement in the practice of medicine through the ages was interesting, especially in regards to the many promising technologies that may shape our future. The history is fascinating and the knowledge of how scientists, doctors, and researchers have evolved the fight against cancer with tangible results are nothing short of amazing. The book itself is a little disorganized and dense in places, but this comprehensive look at the disease that both scares and affects many is a worthwhile read. Getting a doctor's perspective on the advancements of medicine, especially one who faced the death of a loved one to cancer, made this book more personal and humanized. Dr. Scadden's advancements in stem cell research have been invaluable, especially with the creation of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Although Cancerland: A Medical Memoir ultimately was not what I expected, as the title implied a personal account of a doctor facing cancer, but I did learn a great deal about cancer, the research into the different types, and the potentially groundbreaking work being done by those with both expertise and knowledge. I would recommend Cancerland to readers who like learning about the science and history of medicine.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    This is probably an excellent book, it was well written and even engaged me for the first 1/3. However I eventually realized that I was like a kindergartner wading into advanced university type material; it was far beyond my ken. I sped read the later half of this “medical memoir” and got confused and overwhelmed by all the names of people, organizations drugs, cells etc that were bandied around, I was nearly dizzy. It was a highly specialized type of book, more likely to be enjoyed by physician This is probably an excellent book, it was well written and even engaged me for the first 1/3. However I eventually realized that I was like a kindergartner wading into advanced university type material; it was far beyond my ken. I sped read the later half of this “medical memoir” and got confused and overwhelmed by all the names of people, organizations drugs, cells etc that were bandied around, I was nearly dizzy. It was a highly specialized type of book, more likely to be enjoyed by physicians with an interest in cancer care, gene and stem cell therapy, than by an aging, retired, former ER nurse of moderate intelligence. Even for me however, there were interesting parts, mainly the ones where the author wrote about his interactions with real patients, and I got the impression that this was likely a warm and compassionate man. Anyhow, it was way deeper than possible for me to comprehend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    This "medical memoir" is very long on medical and very short on memoir, and I found, far less accessible than Siddhartha Mukherjee's monumental The Emperor of All Maladies. I found Cancerland to be a veritable blizzard of biological information with only the occasional break in the storm that would allow me to comprehend what the author was trying to convey. The author is clearly excited about the advances in cancer treatment, particularly as they relate to therapies connected to stem cells. How This "medical memoir" is very long on medical and very short on memoir, and I found, far less accessible than Siddhartha Mukherjee's monumental The Emperor of All Maladies. I found Cancerland to be a veritable blizzard of biological information with only the occasional break in the storm that would allow me to comprehend what the author was trying to convey. The author is clearly excited about the advances in cancer treatment, particularly as they relate to therapies connected to stem cells. However, that excitement is blunted for the reader when confronted with the nearly endless technical jargon, which I suppose can't be entirely avoided. One thing in this memoir is crystal clear: it's a frustration I share with the author over religious dogma delaying, and in some cases, stopping life-saving research on stem cells, particularly in the United States.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I found this book to be less about what it's like to have cancer and more about what it is like to dedicate your life to science; specifically to cancer research. The book provides deep insights into cancer and the trials and tribulations of being a researcher. The authors use of strong analogies helps to make abstract complex science more understandable. I felt both hope and frustration as I read it - hope that there are such dedicated smart individuals working on this challenge; frustration at I found this book to be less about what it's like to have cancer and more about what it is like to dedicate your life to science; specifically to cancer research. The book provides deep insights into cancer and the trials and tribulations of being a researcher. The authors use of strong analogies helps to make abstract complex science more understandable. I felt both hope and frustration as I read it - hope that there are such dedicated smart individuals working on this challenge; frustration at the competitive landscape that discourages cooperation. Kudos to the author for his creativity and perseverance in creating his center. I found the book interesting but a bit long in details and length as a lay reader.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jim Connelly

    Engaging look into the research and treatment of cancer. The very real human impact on cancer patients and their families of new technologies and the efforts to find a “cure”. The study of molecules, genes and cell research is presented in a way that makes it approachable to the non-scientist. Dr. Scadden also illustrates very well the political and commercial realities of obtaining research funding. Virtually everyone is affected by cancer in some way and Cancerland removes the veil of myster Engaging look into the research and treatment of cancer. The very real human impact on cancer patients and their families of new technologies and the efforts to find a “cure”. The study of molecules, genes and cell research is presented in a way that makes it approachable to the non-scientist. Dr. Scadden also illustrates very well the political and commercial realities of obtaining research funding. Virtually everyone is affected by cancer in some way and Cancerland removes the veil of mystery and misunderstanding of the causes and treatment of this disease and the process of finding solutions. Recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Dr. Scadden is an esteemed doctor and scientist who has spent much of his life combining patient care and research that has resulted in important advances, especially in the area of cancer research. While much of this book deals with the science behind his research, making it a bit complex for a non-science person like myself, I still found it very interesting and now have a better understanding as to why cancer research is so complex, as well as why there will be no cure for every form in the n Dr. Scadden is an esteemed doctor and scientist who has spent much of his life combining patient care and research that has resulted in important advances, especially in the area of cancer research. While much of this book deals with the science behind his research, making it a bit complex for a non-science person like myself, I still found it very interesting and now have a better understanding as to why cancer research is so complex, as well as why there will be no cure for every form in the near future no matter how impressive the advances continue to be. This is the perfect book for anyone interested in biology and cancer research.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    I'm an oncology nurse, so I appreciated the information about therapies and advancements, especially having had loved ones who dealt with cancer. The memoir part didn't really come across as well to me. I felt like it was rather forced, seemingly randomly inserted into the main discussion of the science. I found the second half easier to read and more engrossing than the first, although that may have been due to personal factors as much as the writing and content. Overall, I found this a worthy I'm an oncology nurse, so I appreciated the information about therapies and advancements, especially having had loved ones who dealt with cancer. The memoir part didn't really come across as well to me. I felt like it was rather forced, seemingly randomly inserted into the main discussion of the science. I found the second half easier to read and more engrossing than the first, although that may have been due to personal factors as much as the writing and content. Overall, I found this a worthy read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I had trouble getting traction in this book so had to skip though when the library wanted it back. It is more science research history than memoir. I admit to liking to learn about medical progress through the lives of people who are helped by medical breakthroughs. There is plenty of good information here but I wish it were leavened with more about the people who have benefited from cancer research.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    The book was written in a way that was fairly understandable. If he is anything like what he comes across in the book, he's a very nice guy. He gives background history on the fight against cancer & also explains the human body in relation to what he is writing. He throws in personal examples, which always make what is being talked about more real. I hadn't realized that we had come so far in fighting cancer & part of the reason is people like him. The book was written in a way that was fairly understandable. If he is anything like what he comes across in the book, he's a very nice guy. He gives background history on the fight against cancer & also explains the human body in relation to what he is writing. He throws in personal examples, which always make what is being talked about more real. I hadn't realized that we had come so far in fighting cancer & part of the reason is people like him.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    Tough to review this one because I didn't find it to be much of a memoir as advertised, so it was lacking in personality. I have a pretty strong biomedical background, so I really enjoyed the in depth look at stem cells and genetic engineering and how they are used in cancer treatment, but I don't think that the book would be super accessible without a science background. Tough to review this one because I didn't find it to be much of a memoir as advertised, so it was lacking in personality. I have a pretty strong biomedical background, so I really enjoyed the in depth look at stem cells and genetic engineering and how they are used in cancer treatment, but I don't think that the book would be super accessible without a science background.

  19. 4 out of 5

    marcia

    a memoir for the most part but scientific background of cancer and the research is too in-depth. yes most of us know how long and involved the history of cancer research has been. I hoped it would all tie in to a more persona level but it didn't go there soon enough . abandoned 75% of the way through............sorry a memoir for the most part but scientific background of cancer and the research is too in-depth. yes most of us know how long and involved the history of cancer research has been. I hoped it would all tie in to a more persona level but it didn't go there soon enough . abandoned 75% of the way through............sorry

  20. 4 out of 5

    John Crisp

    Far too medical for my liking. Was hoping it would be more about the experiences with cancer patients. Instead it was a history of the medicine behind cancer and the research that goes into it. Not really much of a memoir if you ask me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    The best parts were when he recounts his personal experience in the clinic and the lab. The history of the field is less in depth than The Emperor of All Maladies, but still interesting. Full of typos, unfortunately.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    Good overview of the field, but too much name-dropping. I don't care that you went fishing with Irv Weissman... Sorry! Good overview of the field, but too much name-dropping. I don't care that you went fishing with Irv Weissman... Sorry!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Probably better if you are in medicine. It is heavy on the medical side, but I found the personal side of the story much more interesting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    The history of cancer treatments covered is something that I haven't found elsewhere. Seems to have a major push on stem cells. The history of cancer treatments covered is something that I haven't found elsewhere. Seems to have a major push on stem cells.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bobp

    Very informative and empathetically written, and inspiring too!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Bradley

    Rambling but mostly interesting. There is no real specific theory or tie in that I can tell.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    I was given a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review Well it seems appropriate that my first review after starting my nursing degree is a review of a medical book. I’ve read plenty medical memoirs before, and I would say they are fast becoming a favourite genre for me. Cancerland though is a bit different from the others. At the beginning Scadden said that one of his aims in writing his memoir was to increase peoples’ knowledge of cancer. His book certainly succeeded in t I was given a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review Well it seems appropriate that my first review after starting my nursing degree is a review of a medical book. I’ve read plenty medical memoirs before, and I would say they are fast becoming a favourite genre for me. Cancerland though is a bit different from the others. At the beginning Scadden said that one of his aims in writing his memoir was to increase peoples’ knowledge of cancer. His book certainly succeeded in this aim. I hadn’t realised quite how complex cancercare is, or how frustrating research can be- especially with the media shouting about ‘miracle cures’. However it didn’t quite hold the personal element that I expect from these types of books. You read little about his patients or his family life, especially once he has become a doctor. That makes it somewhat harder to connect with. It was interesting seeing how he got into medicine however, and I did find it interesting on an intellectual level. If it’s your first foray into medical memoirs I probably wouldn’t start with this one, but if you want to read more of them then this is a good one to go for for a wider experience.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book was not what I expected it to be, but I really enjoyed it! Dr. Scadden blended personal stories from the clinic with a detailed overview of the development of cancer treatments. He hit the nail on the head with his descriptions of working in biomedical research, lab culture, and characteristics of scientists. The book very much appealed to my science background and training. This would also make an interesting read for someone less familiar with the terminology, so don’t let the scienc This book was not what I expected it to be, but I really enjoyed it! Dr. Scadden blended personal stories from the clinic with a detailed overview of the development of cancer treatments. He hit the nail on the head with his descriptions of working in biomedical research, lab culture, and characteristics of scientists. The book very much appealed to my science background and training. This would also make an interesting read for someone less familiar with the terminology, so don’t let the science talk keep you away!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This is a dense book about the evolution of cancer care through the doctor’s life. What frustrates me about this story is the limitations of those doing the work as cancer specialists and researchers. It is not a lack of creativity rather it is a lack of solid financial support. Why this country cannot provide the money for scientists to creatively tackle cancer baffles me. I wish the author revealed more of himself in the book. He offers a few self-deprecating remarks, but I wanted more of his This is a dense book about the evolution of cancer care through the doctor’s life. What frustrates me about this story is the limitations of those doing the work as cancer specialists and researchers. It is not a lack of creativity rather it is a lack of solid financial support. Why this country cannot provide the money for scientists to creatively tackle cancer baffles me. I wish the author revealed more of himself in the book. He offers a few self-deprecating remarks, but I wanted more of his story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The author tries to put a human face on the scientists working on cures for various types of cancer but he doesn't really succeed. He also tries to explain how cancer works in the body which he does a better job at, particularly with blood cancers, but it is a slog to read through. I applaud Scadden for everything he has done to further the study of cancer, but I don't applaud the book itself. The author tries to put a human face on the scientists working on cures for various types of cancer but he doesn't really succeed. He also tries to explain how cancer works in the body which he does a better job at, particularly with blood cancers, but it is a slog to read through. I applaud Scadden for everything he has done to further the study of cancer, but I don't applaud the book itself.

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