cover image Malignant Metaphor: Finding the Hidden Meaning of Cancer

Malignant Metaphor: Finding the Hidden Meaning of Cancer

Alanna Mitchell. ECW Press (Legato Publishers Group, U.S. dist.; Jaguar Book Group, Canadian dist.), $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-77041-268-2

Award-winning science writer Mitchell (Sea Sick) attempts to make sense of the fearful hold that cancer has on our collective imagination. After her brother-in-law, John, and daughter, Calista, received diagnoses of cancer, Mitchell set out to explore the stigma of cancer and help her family members weigh the treatment options. While oncologists recommended conventional medical treatments for John’s prostate cancer and Calista’s thyroid cancer, they didn’t have one to address John’s aggressive melanoma. With no hope offered, John pursued alternative treatment options, which Mitchell itemizes and critiques. Along the way, she analyzes commonly held notions about cancer, namely that it is inevitable, preventable and deserved; people with cancer are seen as guilty of not doing something to maintain good health, and those who die are blamed for not fighting hard enough. Mitchell argues, that, in fact, cancer is common and random. She emphasizes that people should not put another burden on cancer patients by blaming them for their illnesses. In addition to her clear medical explanations, Mitchell’s compassionate attitude will bring comfort to those readers and their loved ones facing a cancer diagnosis. [em]Agent: Sally Harding, The Cooke Agency (Sept.) [/em]