The First Cell

The First Cell 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 HerselfWe Have Lost The War On Cancer We Spend 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 CostIn 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 Aamir Jafarey, Karachi PakistanI 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. 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. 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. 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 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 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. 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 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. 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 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 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. 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. 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

[Reading] ➼ The First Cell  ➲ Azra Raza –
  • Hardcover
  • 368 pages
  • The First Cell
  • Azra Raza
  • 04 February 2019
  • 9781541699526