From Whispers to Shouts: The Ways We Talk About Cancer

From Whispers to Shouts: The Ways We Talk About Cancer

by Elaine Schattner
From Whispers to Shouts: The Ways We Talk About Cancer

From Whispers to Shouts: The Ways We Talk About Cancer

by Elaine Schattner


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It’s hard today to remember how recently cancer was a silent killer, a dreaded disease about which people rarely spoke in public. In hospitals and doctors’ offices, conversations about malignancy were hushed and hope was limited. In this deeply researched book, Elaine Schattner reveals a sea change—from before 1900 to the present day—in how ordinary people talk about cancer.

From Whispers to Shouts examines public perception of cancer through stories in newspapers and magazines, social media, and popular culture. It probes the evolving relationship between journalists and medical specialists and illuminates the role of women and charities that distributed medical information. Schattner traces the origins of patient advocacy and activism from the 1920s onward, highlighting how, while doctors have lost control of messages about cancer, survivors have gained visibility and voice.

The book’s final section lays out provocative questions facing the cancer community today—including distrust of oncologists, concerns over financial burdens, and disparities in cancer treatments and care. Schattner considers how patients and their loved ones struggle to make decisions amid conflicting information and opinions. She explores the ramifications of so much openness, good and bad, and asks: Has awareness backfired? Instead, Schattner contends, we need greater understanding of cancer’s treatability.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231192262
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 03/07/2023
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 1,087,649
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Elaine Schattner is a journalist, cancer survivor, and physician who worked as a medical oncologist before completing a journalism degree at Columbia University. She is a clinical associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Her essays have appeared in Slate, the Atlantic, NPR, and elsewhere.

Table of Contents

Part I. Cancer Awakens
1. Cancer, Kept Apart (Before 1900)
2. Cancer’s Spring (1900–1920)
3. Educational Campaigns (1920–1930)
4. Fighting Words (1930–1945)
5. A Celebrity Cause (1945–1960)
Part II. Cancer Comes Out
6. Our Bodies, Our Decisions (1960–1980)
7. Cancer in the Time of AIDS (1980–1990)
8. Enthusiasm (1990–2000)
9. Complications (2000–2010)
10. Cancer Everywhere (2010–2020)
Part III. Cancer’s Future
11. The Modern Patient’s Burden
12. Cancer Is Not As It Used To Be
13. Is Cancer Treatment a Luxury?
14. Has Awareness Backfired?
15. Can We Prevent Cancer?
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