It remains an astonishing, disturbing fact that in America – a nation where nearly every new drug is subjected to rigorous scrutiny as a potential carcinogen, and even the bare hint of a substance’s link to cancer ignites a firestorm of public hysteria and media anxiety – one of the most potent and common carcinogens known to humans can be freely bought and sold at every corner store for a few dollars.
― Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime making it a certainty that if you don’t develop it, invariably you will know someone who does.
Three episodes take us through an historical timeline of progress and setbacks interspersed with personal stories of both success and failure. The middle episode focusing on breast cancer was particularly heart wrenching, knowing so many afflicted women no longer among us.
A section is devoted to the tireless work of Mary Lasker, a socialite and philanthropist who all but invented health activism, as well as the American Cancer Society. A clip of her being interviewed by the chain-smoking Edward R. Murrow who died at 57 of lung cancer is particularly affective.
Throughout the series we see the setbacks, the breakthroughs and the tenacity of all to find the cure and eradicate cancer once and for all.