Hot Best Seller

The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last

Availability: Ready to download

With the fascinating scholarship of The Emperor of All Maladies and the deeply personal experience of When Breath Becomes Air, a world-class oncologist examines the current state of cancer and its devastating impact on the individuals it affects -- including herself. We have lost the war on cancer. We spend $150 billion each year treating it, yet -- a few innovations notwithstanding -- a pa With the fascinating scholarship of The Emperor of All Maladies and the deeply personal experience of When Breath Becomes Air, a world-class oncologist examines the current state of cancer and its devastating impact on the individuals it affects -- including herself. We have lost the war on cancer. We spend $150 billion each year treating it, yet -- a few innovations notwithstanding -- a patient with cancer is as likely to die of it as one was fifty years ago. Most new drugs add mere months to one's life at agonizing physical and financial cost. In The First Cell, Azra Raza offers a searing account of how both medicine and our society (mis)treats cancer, how we can do better, and why we must. A lyrical journey from hope to despair and back again, The First Cell explores cancer from every angle: medical, scientific, cultural, and personal. Indeed, Raza describes how she bore the terrible burden of being her own husband's oncologist as he succumbed to leukemia. Like When Breath Becomes Air, The First Cell is no ordinary book of medicine, but a book of wisdom and grace by an author who has devoted her life to making the unbearable easier to bear.


Compare

With the fascinating scholarship of The Emperor of All Maladies and the deeply personal experience of When Breath Becomes Air, a world-class oncologist examines the current state of cancer and its devastating impact on the individuals it affects -- including herself. We have lost the war on cancer. We spend $150 billion each year treating it, yet -- a few innovations notwithstanding -- a pa With the fascinating scholarship of The Emperor of All Maladies and the deeply personal experience of When Breath Becomes Air, a world-class oncologist examines the current state of cancer and its devastating impact on the individuals it affects -- including herself. We have lost the war on cancer. We spend $150 billion each year treating it, yet -- a few innovations notwithstanding -- a patient with cancer is as likely to die of it as one was fifty years ago. Most new drugs add mere months to one's life at agonizing physical and financial cost. In The First Cell, Azra Raza offers a searing account of how both medicine and our society (mis)treats cancer, how we can do better, and why we must. A lyrical journey from hope to despair and back again, The First Cell explores cancer from every angle: medical, scientific, cultural, and personal. Indeed, Raza describes how she bore the terrible burden of being her own husband's oncologist as he succumbed to leukemia. Like When Breath Becomes Air, The First Cell is no ordinary book of medicine, but a book of wisdom and grace by an author who has devoted her life to making the unbearable easier to bear.

30 review for The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aamir Jafarey

    Aamir Jafarey, Karachi Pakistan I found the reading of “The First Cell” unnervingly disturbing, to the point that I had to put the book down periodically to let myself ‘recover’. I cannot even imagine what Azra Raza must have gone through personally in putting to paper her own extremely private thoughts, and those of the contributors, who found the courage to share their immense pain with unknown readers through this narrative. While Raza has a clear mission, that of advocating a fresh appr Aamir Jafarey, Karachi Pakistan I found the reading of “The First Cell” unnervingly disturbing, to the point that I had to put the book down periodically to let myself ‘recover’. I cannot even imagine what Azra Raza must have gone through personally in putting to paper her own extremely private thoughts, and those of the contributors, who found the courage to share their immense pain with unknown readers through this narrative. While Raza has a clear mission, that of advocating a fresh approach to the battle against cancer, and something she has been pursuing for a while despite significant opposition from her own oncology circles, the fact that she chose to embed her scientific pursuit into a very human plot poignantly brings out the urgency of her struggle. It is the human factor that makes her struggle against cancer a very personal one for the reader. And the way she seamlessly weaves seemingly different disconnected human stories into each other, and into the science behind the failure, makes for gripping reading. Her stress on differentiating disease from illness is particularly appealing. This is in fact the ability that gets lost as many of us go through medical schooling, and residency training, gradually losing our humanness. Good communication with patients, something that emerges repeatedly from these narratives, is such a rarity apparently all over the world. In objectifying the patient and the disease, we have severed our ties from what was once a vocation, and has now been reduced to a mere business. But for me, the most appealing part of this book is how Raza has brought in literature to drive home the points she wish to make. What a treat it is to see how the poet Iqbal reflects on cancer, and how the great poet Ghalib explains, through Azra’s voice, that “the cure part is the pearl; heating is the tear. You can do both”. Wah! I was familiar with this verse but never ever had I thought of applying that to training and education and patient care. I can see Raza taking a whole session woven around just this one couplet, unpacking the pearls of wisdom that Ghalib locked in this oyster, and that only she can pry open. Even though I have a declared bias towards Urdu poetry, I enjoyed how the author repeatedly brings English literature into the discussion equally effectively. This is a book that both scientists, as well as the general public, will find appealing at a very personal level.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Syed T.

    In her remarkable book “The First Cell,” Azra has been brutally honest at every level. President Nixon declared “War on Cancer” in 1972, but as shown in this book there has been little improvement in the prognosis of most cancers. The only decline in the death rates from cancer we have seen are due to early diagnosis from routine screening and the ability to treat cancers at such an early stage. Yet we hear of new miracle cures, transformational new drugs and so on frequently, followed by the sa In her remarkable book “The First Cell,” Azra has been brutally honest at every level. President Nixon declared “War on Cancer” in 1972, but as shown in this book there has been little improvement in the prognosis of most cancers. The only decline in the death rates from cancer we have seen are due to early diagnosis from routine screening and the ability to treat cancers at such an early stage. Yet we hear of new miracle cures, transformational new drugs and so on frequently, followed by the same disappointments. No one in the leadership of those treating cancers are willing to accept their failure and continue to give false hope to the patients. If we really are serious about winning the war on cancer we need to start by exactly what this book does. Take stock of where we are. What have we learnt from the billions of dollars spent on research in the cancer field and how to go forward. The book informs us that 95% of the new drugs tried for treating cancer don’t make it through the FDA approval and the 5% that do get approved have increased the survival by a few months only. Azra correctly asks if it is not time to acknowledge our failure and try some new venues of research. To think outside the box. To make a 180 degree turn. This book is a must read for all physicians and everyone who has been effected by cancer personally or in their loved ones and by those who have even remote interest in cancer. It should be required reading for those in cancer research and for those in the medical bureaucracy who are in positions of power to make decisions where the research funding goes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Danvers

    This book reflects some very important thinking about the deficiencies in the way that cancer drug research is performed in this country and recommendations for a different protocol, and I totally buy what she says. Unfortunately, it also is very detailed about the molecular mechanisms in a way that is difficult for the layman to follow. The more powerful statement is the simple one, the one she tells in stories about her patients. Here, too, though, it is sometimes hard to connect the human sto This book reflects some very important thinking about the deficiencies in the way that cancer drug research is performed in this country and recommendations for a different protocol, and I totally buy what she says. Unfortunately, it also is very detailed about the molecular mechanisms in a way that is difficult for the layman to follow. The more powerful statement is the simple one, the one she tells in stories about her patients. Here, too, though, it is sometimes hard to connect the human story with the point she is trying to illustrate. Edit to add: A couple of other points have been weighing on me since I wrote the above review. First, I think that she overlooks some rather remarkable strides in the treatment of breast cancer that have come about in the last 50 years or so, and which her colleague Siddartha Mukherjee wrote about in The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. But then, perhaps more problematic, she talks about the future of testing for cancer markers and repeatedly discusses the ideal of "one drop of blood" holding all the information necessary. That would be great but frankly every time she mentioned that kind of work, I couldn't help but wonder if she were referring to the now wholly discredited claims of Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos (see Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup). And then that illustrated another problem, which is that her citation method made it pretty much impossible for me to figure out whose work she was citing when she was talking about the innovative theories, so I couldn't reverse engineer to determine who sponsored the studies. I hope she is not chasing pipe dreams here, but the whole Theranos debacle made me wary of her predictions.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Syed Mohammad

    Cancer has impacted everyone on this planet in some way, and this book offers hope while also reflecting how medicine needs to reevaluate how it tackles this disease. Through this book, it is clear that the author deeply cares about her patients, and it is an inspiring and sobering read at the same time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Curt Worden

    After reading The First Cell, I realized how I’ve misunderstood the misguided war on cancer. Dr. Azra Raza has written a powerful and insightful book drawing from the passion for her work, and being a firsthand witness to the human impact of this disease. A range of emotions are present; from the stories of patients and their families who show extraordinary strength and determination, to the frustration of the unjust realities present in the “business” of cancer. Beautifully written w After reading The First Cell, I realized how I’ve misunderstood the misguided war on cancer. Dr. Azra Raza has written a powerful and insightful book drawing from the passion for her work, and being a firsthand witness to the human impact of this disease. A range of emotions are present; from the stories of patients and their families who show extraordinary strength and determination, to the frustration of the unjust realities present in the “business” of cancer. Beautifully written with unbridled honesty. A must read! https://www.amazon.com/dp/1541699521/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Hopkins

    I enjoyed the first half very much. It got repetitive, I thought, in the second half, confusing in spots, a little syrupy for my taste (everyone was her dearest friend) and a little too strident in tone. I guess she wrote that part more for the people she has seen as opponents since 1984. Still, highly illuminating and I am highly sympathetic to the views she expresses, especially how nominally many people benefit from radiation and chemo, yet how tortured they are physically and financially.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Lauren

    Love this book, truly. Wasn't sure what to expect and did also love Emperor of All Maladies.This gives a new, exciting, if painful, perspective on the whole cancer landscape. From her own first professional, then intensely personal experience with the relentlessness of the disease, the author is exemplary is her discussions. Her detailed knowledge of the process of disease, diagnosis and treatment mirrors the clusterfuck having cancer in this day and age really is. From the pursuit of a cure - s Love this book, truly. Wasn't sure what to expect and did also love Emperor of All Maladies.This gives a new, exciting, if painful, perspective on the whole cancer landscape. From her own first professional, then intensely personal experience with the relentlessness of the disease, the author is exemplary is her discussions. Her detailed knowledge of the process of disease, diagnosis and treatment mirrors the clusterfuck having cancer in this day and age really is. From the pursuit of a cure - similar in many cases to locking the barn door after the horses have fled, to the shotgun of let's try everything, the approach has been backwards. With the knowledge we have now, looking at cancer from the first cell is only logical and reasonable. I too have had cancer, and it did and continues to scare me....I can only hope that her voice and call resonate for all of us who have had and will have to face that situation. Nipping it in the bud is far and away more preferable than chasing errant, racing cells throughout the body, and laying waste to things in its path. Thorough, detailed and thoughtful, thank you. I enthusiastically recommend and am gategelu for the advance copy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amera Raza

    It is a beautifully written, easily understandable, emotionally stirring, and yet soundly- supplemented -with -scientific -data, book. One gets a lot of basic information about cancer as a disease, how it develops and affects its victims, it’s current and past treatment strategies and challenges and best of all select patients’ and their care givers’ personal accounts of how they feel, face and handle this harrowing disease. Azra’s main thrust is of course on how some of the cancer treatment and It is a beautifully written, easily understandable, emotionally stirring, and yet soundly- supplemented -with -scientific -data, book. One gets a lot of basic information about cancer as a disease, how it develops and affects its victims, it’s current and past treatment strategies and challenges and best of all select patients’ and their care givers’ personal accounts of how they feel, face and handle this harrowing disease. Azra’s main thrust is of course on how some of the cancer treatment and cure finding strategies have stagnated over the years or decades and need fresh foci and fresh methodologies to arrive at effective, substantial results. There have been newer and effective strategies and researches but according to her they have not resulted in long term ultimate cures. Her recommendations then follow including her description of the tissue repository which she has collected and maintained for last three decades and which can be a valuable resource for cancer cure-finding research. In my opinion the book is not only valueable from the point of view of cancer research but also for its literary beauty in how it is written and the data presented. I leave the rest to the reader but in conclusion: it’s a strong and loving book. Strong in its challenge to the cancer research community and loving in its invitation to do better for the sake of suffering patients. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and Azra, congratulations for producing this beautiful thing. I strongly recommend it to everybody to read, not just doctors, scientists or cancer researchers who also do, I hope

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bruin Mccon

    “We are all tested. But it is never in the way we prefer, not at the time we expect.”—Dr. Azra Raza’s husband, Harvey, discussing the disease that killed him “The prevention I am talking about is through identification and eradication of transformed cancerous cells at their inception, before they have had a chance to organize into a bona fide malignant, incurable disease.” Are current methods to treat cancer making a difference in the lives of patients? The First Cell would say “We are all tested. But it is never in the way we prefer, not at the time we expect.”—Dr. Azra Raza’s husband, Harvey, discussing the disease that killed him “The prevention I am talking about is through identification and eradication of transformed cancerous cells at their inception, before they have had a chance to organize into a bona fide malignant, incurable disease.” Are current methods to treat cancer making a difference in the lives of patients? The First Cell would say hell no, and within the first pages the book argues we need to start looking at treating this disease through a prevention-based strategy that acknowledges that diet and exercise are not enough to stop cancer. “There is a crisis in the field. The bizarreness of things we are doing both in clinical and basic science is effectively cloaked under important-sounding terms, conveying a reassuring sense of objectivity—best practices, evidence-based medicine, precision oncology, genetically engineered mice. Mostly euphemisms to sweeten the bitter truth that we don’t have better treatments than what we were offering fifty years ago.” Dr. Raza is not an impartial observer, a fact she makes clear early on when discussing how she was trained by her husband, in the same exact field, to always remain impartial. Yet when he got cancer, she was the only doc he trusted, despite his wife’s obvious failure to meet his number one criterion. It’s hard to see how any of us could make it through the death of a spouse at the hands of our life’s inanimate nemesis. She discusses young brilliant minds in the field and why they are deluded. It’s simple, really: cancer drugs tested in mice have no predictive value in terms of human efficacy. It’s easy to feel her frustration. “Do other cancer patients experience variations on these themes, the vertigo pf evanescent, soul-destroying, irreducible suffering? Do they run their weary fingers through serrated edges of anguish, say farewells in unspoken, unheard of languages in the silence of sleepy nights?” The author doesn’t hide the pain of losing her husband; rather, she uses this viewpoint as a family member left behind to move her search for better cancer prevention forward to spare others her pain. About midway through her book, Dr. Raza discusses Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book I tried to finish this year—and failed. Throughout she uses poetry and book quotes to illustrate ideas and points and she uses the Robert Pirsig classic to discuss dynamic quality. Her description of the book makes me want to try again to read it, as if missing out on its wisdom will impact me beyond just this section of her book. She quotes the book, “the only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.” This book will give me nightmares. JC, a 34-year-old who had an uncontrollable urge to sniff gasoline while pregnant—and who succumbed to leukemia when her twins were 2.5 as a result. The First Cell will change your mind about cancer research. It’s frustrating that the American system is so useless. We’ll all be touched by cancer in this lifetime—and we all must push for a better system to fight it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Bentley

    How much do you not want to die? Author Azra Reza challenges us to think deeply about what the cost of an extra six weeks or six rounds of treatment would really mean. Is it worth putting your family's financial security on the line to extend your life, if only for a few weeks? I guess this could be a depressing thought, but she philosophizes on death and life... James Baldwin (one of my favorite authors) is quoted heavily and I loved her initial chapters about how the west views death (by avoid How much do you not want to die? Author Azra Reza challenges us to think deeply about what the cost of an extra six weeks or six rounds of treatment would really mean. Is it worth putting your family's financial security on the line to extend your life, if only for a few weeks? I guess this could be a depressing thought, but she philosophizes on death and life... James Baldwin (one of my favorite authors) is quoted heavily and I loved her initial chapters about how the west views death (by avoiding it) and life (the pursuit). Also, I have always thought of cancers as exponential, in that the rate of production grows out of control... never have I thought to think of the initial cancer cell / to even think of cancer at the cellular level! Cancer always seems to large and looming- it was a change and challenge to think of cancer as infinitesimally small and potentially curable. It was depressing to find that this physician-author confirms your worst fears about cancer: money lies at the root of great potential and great harm. What I did like was that this author, over years of research and getting to know her patients and getting to know cancer intimately, told the stories of where an extra six weeks of extended patient life was worth a lifetime. I don't know... maybe my poor girl cynicism ruined what could have been a touching narrative of personal accounts of how her experimental treatments worked; I am left feeling a bit "sweet lemons and sour grapes," over the fairness/unfairness of it all. The wealth is the depressing part... all to extend life in terms of weeks or months, rarely- if ever- years. She does speak of the toll on families, homelessness experienced by not being able to afford your home because your family had to file bankruptcy to escape medical debts. If you are looking for grit, this is not the book. This is the book you want to read if you want to ponder worth versus cost. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would an extra six weeks be worth- damn the costs. And that's why we will never cure cancer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill Meyer

    Dr Azra Raza is a Pakistani-born oncologist, who has lived and practiced medicine in the US since she graduated from medical school. She's from a family of doctors and was married to an oncologist, who died of cancer. Raza has many ideas about cancer; it's origins and the treatment of the patient. She has a beautifully written book, "The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last". Azra Raza's book is the latest in books by doctors about cancer. Many people have re Dr Azra Raza is a Pakistani-born oncologist, who has lived and practiced medicine in the US since she graduated from medical school. She's from a family of doctors and was married to an oncologist, who died of cancer. Raza has many ideas about cancer; it's origins and the treatment of the patient. She has a beautifully written book, "The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last". Azra Raza's book is the latest in books by doctors about cancer. Many people have read "When Breath Becomes Air" by the late Paul Kalanithi and "The Emperor of All Maladies", by Siddhartha Mukherjee. (Why are so many of these books written by South Asians? Do they have a better/different perspective on the disease?) Raza takes a slightly different approach to her subject than other doctor/authors. It's personal in that it talks about her husband's illness and death, but she also goes outside the personal and looks at many other patients she's treated. Some have lived, some have died, but she remembers the "cost of pursuing" the disease for her patients. She makes several points in her book, one being that "cure" rates are improving not because of new miracle cures (I think she quotes a 95% fail rate of new medicines.) but rather because of early detection of many cancers. Early detection usually makes for easier cures. She also writes about the human cost of the patient's pursuit of the cure. Sometimes, often times it seems, the methods of curing are worse than the disease itself. I cringed while reading the parts about two men who ultimately died of their cancer after horrible chemo and other methods of "curing". Azra Razi's book is not particularly positive about her subject. Some of the heavy duty medical info I didn't understand, but I still got a lot from the book. The reason the book's not positive is that cancer is not a disease that lends itself to positive endings.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Lots of interesting material here, though the author paints a rather bleak picture regarding cancer treatment and research, and the potential for finding any significant new treatments anytime in the near future. Also, I really could have done without the mentions of her political leanings. The fact that she mentions her patients whom she became friends with, often based (at least in part on) shared political views, was disturbing and unsettling. I thought doctors were supposed to be unbiased and rise Lots of interesting material here, though the author paints a rather bleak picture regarding cancer treatment and research, and the potential for finding any significant new treatments anytime in the near future. Also, I really could have done without the mentions of her political leanings. The fact that she mentions her patients whom she became friends with, often based (at least in part on) shared political views, was disturbing and unsettling. I thought doctors were supposed to be unbiased and rise above such things? It's a little scary to ponder. In the meantime I will be extra careful not to share any of my personal religious or political views with any doctors I may have. It really came across as undermining her professionalism in a big way. I was left with the implication that if you didn't share her views, she would deem you as inferior, and maybe not give you the same care and her absolute best effort. There was a lot of repetition, and I felt like some of the patient stories she told could have used some editing in this regard. And some of the writing was so scientific and technical that I zoned out, but I expected a bit of that. It was okay, not sure if I recommend or not. I would say that if you haven't read it yet, instead, definitely read Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ginger Hudock

    Raza is an oncologist who has had a first-hand look at cancer through the eyes of both her patients and her husband, who died of cancer. She has seen death up close through these patients and recounts the stories of a number of them. This book is a personal memoir but is also a great discussion of the history of cancer research and treatment. Raza sees that most research funding has not been very well spent. Drugs have been developed that cost huge amounts of money, have many negative side effec Raza is an oncologist who has had a first-hand look at cancer through the eyes of both her patients and her husband, who died of cancer. She has seen death up close through these patients and recounts the stories of a number of them. This book is a personal memoir but is also a great discussion of the history of cancer research and treatment. Raza sees that most research funding has not been very well spent. Drugs have been developed that cost huge amounts of money, have many negative side effects, and often extend life very little. She states that the current medical model of cancer treatment of slash/poison/burn (surgery/chemotherapy/radiation) is not curing most cancers. Raza decided to focus on studying cancers in the earliest stages, including precancels in order figure out how to arrest the disease before it progresses. A quote: "there is much exciting work going on the area of detecting the first rather than the last cancer cell". This book was a difficult read because it does not whitewash all of the negative symptoms faced by her patients. I took a course on nutrition for cancer during my nutrition program. My interest in cancer treatments through nutrition were revitalized this year when my husband was diagnosed with precancerous esophageal dysplasia. This book solidified my desire to prevent cancer with natural methods and, if cancer is found, help combat it with natural treatments, including diet.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Columbia University oncologist and cancer researcher Azra Raza is angry—angry about the current “protocol of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation—the slash-poison-burn approach to treating cancer” which she calls “an embarrassment”; angry about the state of cancer research, which prioritizes mouse models and animal cancer research over research to “prevent the appearance of the first cancer cell by finding its earliest footprints”; angry about the cancer deaths of her patients and, most personal Columbia University oncologist and cancer researcher Azra Raza is angry—angry about the current “protocol of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation—the slash-poison-burn approach to treating cancer” which she calls “an embarrassment”; angry about the state of cancer research, which prioritizes mouse models and animal cancer research over research to “prevent the appearance of the first cancer cell by finding its earliest footprints”; angry about the cancer deaths of her patients and, most personally, her husband; and angry about whether, having failed to give her cancer patients a better life, she and other oncologists could have given them a better death. Raza wants “nothing less than a paradigm shift in cancer studies and treatment” and “The First Cell” is her manifesto for how it should happen. This is not an exhaustive scholarly study of cancer (although at times I did struggle to keep up with the science)—if you’re looking for that book, try The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a colleague and close friend of Raza’s. “The First Cell” is a far more personal (and for me, more affecting) book, focusing as it does on the problems with current treatment protocols as demonstrated through the personal stories of many of Raza’s patients and their families, who are given a chance to tell their experiences in their own voices. Anyone who has watched a loved one suffer through cancer treatment will be nodding their heads in agreement, as I was, throughout these sections, which prove better than anything else could how high the stakes Raza is fighting for are. “To begin the ending,” she says, “we must end the beginning. Prevention will be the only compassionate, universally applicable cure.” I finished this book rooting for her and hoping her mission to completely shift the paradigm of cancer treatment succeeds. Many thanks to NetGalley and Basic Books/Hachette Book Group for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Abdullah M.

    The First Cell is an exceptional piece of work by a caring doctor, brilliant scientist, a public speaker, a mentor for countless students, and an eloquent writer who is also a widow of a cancer victim. As one can imagine someone wearing so many hats and with 35+ years in the field of oncology brings a lot of experience with her. In this book, Dr. Raza channeled all that experience and energy to bring the state of cancer care with scientific facts, opinion, and advice nicely weaved with patients The First Cell is an exceptional piece of work by a caring doctor, brilliant scientist, a public speaker, a mentor for countless students, and an eloquent writer who is also a widow of a cancer victim. As one can imagine someone wearing so many hats and with 35+ years in the field of oncology brings a lot of experience with her. In this book, Dr. Raza channeled all that experience and energy to bring the state of cancer care with scientific facts, opinion, and advice nicely weaved with patients stories. I highly recommend this book is for everyone, but particularly for those affected by cancer, either directly or indirectly. It is for researchers, scientist, oncologist, medical students and fellows, community doctors, peer reviewers of science funding agencies and investors who invest millions and billions trying to develop drugs for cancer. For everyone there is a message, there is admonition and advice, and there is a plan and future directions. Dr. Raza is well-read, as evident from the poems, couplets, quotes from authors, poets, and writers from East to West. Highly engaging and a must-read. The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Meis

    This is a magnificent book! It had a profound impact on me, as I’m sure it must on everyone. It is so beautifully written, so literary, so personal and yet so universal, such a deep look into the depths of Dr. Raza’s soul and her mission that I often had to put it down to stop crying or to recover from the intense emotions Dr. Raza brings forth with her words and stories of what cancer patients must endure. The purpose of these stories is not to revel in suffering but to shake up the public by s This is a magnificent book! It had a profound impact on me, as I’m sure it must on everyone. It is so beautifully written, so literary, so personal and yet so universal, such a deep look into the depths of Dr. Raza’s soul and her mission that I often had to put it down to stop crying or to recover from the intense emotions Dr. Raza brings forth with her words and stories of what cancer patients must endure. The purpose of these stories is not to revel in suffering but to shake up the public by showing the suffering of individuals. I know it will, as Siddhartha Mukherjee, the author of The Emperor of all Maladies says, “change the conversation around cancer for years to come.” I for one am signing on to Dr. Raza’s revolution and plan to take the action she urges to demand that our tax dollars contribute to researchers focusing on early detection rather than treatment -- a fundamental alteration of perspective. I don’t think readers will be able to put The First Cell down without finishing it. I could not. I’m so glad Dr. Raza wrote it and that in reading it I learned so much more about cancer but also about Dr. Raza, her life and struggles, her work and what a brilliant scientist and compassionate oncologist she is.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I found this book profoundly moving and compelling, and I highly recommend it. It's a cry for changing the culture of cancer research from a focus on developing treatments that extend survival by a few weeks to months to a greater focus on prevention and early detection. It's the story of her own life journey as an oncologist and the story of her patients, including her own husband's story as a cancer patient. As someone involved and invested in cancer research, it inspired me to do all I can to I found this book profoundly moving and compelling, and I highly recommend it. It's a cry for changing the culture of cancer research from a focus on developing treatments that extend survival by a few weeks to months to a greater focus on prevention and early detection. It's the story of her own life journey as an oncologist and the story of her patients, including her own husband's story as a cancer patient. As someone involved and invested in cancer research, it inspired me to do all I can to serve cancer patients with compassion and humility. Dr. Raza, thank you for writing this book! My only addition to her strategy to end cancer would be to stress the importance of lifestyle and nutrition. For example, the American Institute of Cancer Research's report found that 40% of cancers could be prevented by healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors. If prevention is the new cure, let us do more to prevent cancer through adopting plant-based diets and healthier lifestyles.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    Poetic. Thought-provoking. Impossible to put down. These are not the words I expected to write in a review of a book written by a person expert in and deeply experienced with cancer in her career and in her marriage. In the excellent THE FIRST CELL, Raza succeeds brilliantly in shining a clear light into the approach, process, and system of cancer treatment. For all the supposed advances in the battle of this devious, complex, changeable malady, there have been few significant advances in haltin Poetic. Thought-provoking. Impossible to put down. These are not the words I expected to write in a review of a book written by a person expert in and deeply experienced with cancer in her career and in her marriage. In the excellent THE FIRST CELL, Raza succeeds brilliantly in shining a clear light into the approach, process, and system of cancer treatment. For all the supposed advances in the battle of this devious, complex, changeable malady, there have been few significant advances in halting the inevitable, painful, life-sucking progress of cancer. Raza proposes a different approach that acknowledges complexity, pain, and focuses on wellness and genuine wellbeing. An essential read for the thinking person. I am grateful to the author for sharing her experience, perspective, and poetic turn of phrase, to the publisher and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    S. Abbas

    This excellent book by a leading oncology researcher and physician makes the argument that the strategy of searching for the last cancer cell in the body and eliminating it has not resulted in much progress since the "war on cancer" was declared in the early 1970s under the Nixon administration in America. Instead, with all the new tools at our disposal, perhaps we should be focusing more on early detection and looking for the first cancer cells in the body. It is a scientific argument persuasively a This excellent book by a leading oncology researcher and physician makes the argument that the strategy of searching for the last cancer cell in the body and eliminating it has not resulted in much progress since the "war on cancer" was declared in the early 1970s under the Nixon administration in America. Instead, with all the new tools at our disposal, perhaps we should be focusing more on early detection and looking for the first cancer cells in the body. It is a scientific argument persuasively and eloquently made through detailed explanations of the relevant science accompanied by the poignant stories of a number of patients under the author's care, including her own husband who eventually died of the disease. If you have an interest (and who doesn't?) in how cancer is treated, you must read this book. You will learn a great deal from it, and not just about cancer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aldo J. Marchioni

    Important message obscured by less than coherent writing The author makes a very good case for the concise recommendation to shift funding for cancer research toward early detection rather than late treatment. Unfortunately the basis for this well thought out recommendation is clouded over by extraneous and anecdotal personal stories of cancer patients experience of suffering the ravages of treatment and disease progression. The author also diminishes the validity of her message by an often hap Important message obscured by less than coherent writing The author makes a very good case for the concise recommendation to shift funding for cancer research toward early detection rather than late treatment. Unfortunately the basis for this well thought out recommendation is clouded over by extraneous and anecdotal personal stories of cancer patients experience of suffering the ravages of treatment and disease progression. The author also diminishes the validity of her message by an often haphazard presentation of rationale and research supporting her message. A good, strong editor could have made this book, and the changes she advocates for, much more logically organized and therefore far more persuasive. There’s an important message here, but it’s impact is short changed by the author’s writing style and organization.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kendra Seth

    The First Cell by Dr Azra Raza is by far the most compelling & educational book on cancer I have ever read. Dr Raza writes so eloquently about her own personal journey through cancer which provides a great understanding for the reader to appreciate how committed she is to finding a cure tor her patients. This book is a call to action for all of us who have been touched by cancer or know/love someone who has — there is so much more we can do if we maximize all the research & resources ava The First Cell by Dr Azra Raza is by far the most compelling & educational book on cancer I have ever read. Dr Raza writes so eloquently about her own personal journey through cancer which provides a great understanding for the reader to appreciate how committed she is to finding a cure tor her patients. This book is a call to action for all of us who have been touched by cancer or know/love someone who has — there is so much more we can do if we maximize all the research & resources available. The amount of information & detail in The First Cell would make you believe it would read a text book but the personal stories, both triumphs & tragedies that Raza weaves throughout the book make it more of an all encompassing page turner. A must read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Want an intellectual and deeply moving look at the ways we have been failed by cancer research and treatment. Although this can be a rigorous read at times because of the medical terminology, this is still a heartrending account of why cancer treatment has not fully advanced in recent years. Dr. Raza’s impassioned plea for better research and treatment is deeply personal, as she suffered the agonizing loss of her beloved husband. This is an elegant, eye-opening, infuriating, and ins Read if you: Want an intellectual and deeply moving look at the ways we have been failed by cancer research and treatment. Although this can be a rigorous read at times because of the medical terminology, this is still a heartrending account of why cancer treatment has not fully advanced in recent years. Dr. Raza’s impassioned plea for better research and treatment is deeply personal, as she suffered the agonizing loss of her beloved husband. This is an elegant, eye-opening, infuriating, and inspiring read. Many thanks to Basic Books and Edelweiss for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michaela

    Received in a Goodreads giveaway. An interesting read, to say the least. It's refreshing to see someone acknowledge that doctors gloss over the patients' suffering, as if it doesn't exist. And to have someone point out that cancer treatments have stagnated, despite the amount of research, really opens ones eyes to the lack of knowledge we really have. It seems we've become complacent. I've mistakenly thought that we've made so much more progress than we really have, and while it is hard to be fa Received in a Goodreads giveaway. An interesting read, to say the least. It's refreshing to see someone acknowledge that doctors gloss over the patients' suffering, as if it doesn't exist. And to have someone point out that cancer treatments have stagnated, despite the amount of research, really opens ones eyes to the lack of knowledge we really have. It seems we've become complacent. I've mistakenly thought that we've made so much more progress than we really have, and while it is hard to be faced with this reality, it's also a good thing, so we can focus our efforts where they need to be.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anna Eden

    I received this book through a giveaway and was encouraged to write a review. As a medical student interested in pediatric oncology, this book resonated with me deeply. Hearing the stories of so many patients, and the struggles that continue as we push to find that “cure for cancer” provoked a lot of thought as I read. Her personal connection to so many patients was hard to swallow at times, but reminded me why I want to become an oncologist in the future. Some of the language was a bit tec I received this book through a giveaway and was encouraged to write a review. As a medical student interested in pediatric oncology, this book resonated with me deeply. Hearing the stories of so many patients, and the struggles that continue as we push to find that “cure for cancer” provoked a lot of thought as I read. Her personal connection to so many patients was hard to swallow at times, but reminded me why I want to become an oncologist in the future. Some of the language was a bit technical, but Raza explains it well. I would highly recommend this book for those who are interested in oncology, a career in medicine, or have been touched by cancer at some point in their lives.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark P

    Rare when the logic of science and raw human emotion collide to work hand in hand to potentially change the future of millions of people across the globe. Anyone who has been affected by the demon of Cancer should read this book. You will immediately gain a better understanding of the horror your loved ones suffered and see how the philosophy of the medical world must change. I know, Azra's husband, Dr. Harvey Preisler, is my father.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joann Amidon

    Extensive research and case studies provide valuable information about cancer and its treatment. At times it was too much information for me but that does not take away from its importance in the field.

  27. 5 out of 5

    rabbitprincess

    4.5 rounded up

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bradford

    A little too much medical jargon for my preferences. From what I did read, I was impressed by the author’s argument.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. A very personal and powerful book. Eye opening on the failure to make progress in the treatment of cancer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tfalcone

    Most depressing book ever and a fierce reminder that nobody gets off this planet alive.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.