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.
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.
Azra Raza is the Chan Soon-Shiong professor of medicine and the director of the MDS Center at Columbia University. In addition to publishing widely in basic and clinical cancer research, Raza is also the coeditor of the highly acclaimed website 3QuarksDaily.com. She lives in New York City.
"An elegantly conceived, powerfully written, and far-reaching book that will change the conversation around cancer for decades to come."
– Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies
"The First Cell is the rare book that brings both a personal and scientific experience of cancer together. It questions the profiteering that floods our environment with carcinogens in the first place, and also those that profit from treating it. Azra Raza puts our focus where it should be: on prevention and early detection."
"A beautifully written book from a leading cancer expert who is also a caring, committed clinician."
– Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac and Ordinarily Well
"An affecting, fascinating, timely, and uncompromisingly honest look at where we stand in treating the most fearsome disease in most people's worry list."
– Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
"An incisive critique-cum-memoir"
"Azra Raza is famed as a titan in the field of oncology. Perhaps less well-known is that she is a sensitive and passionate writer as well. In The First Cell she combines the scientific and the human, medicine and the arts, to give us a unique view into something that touches all of our lives – offering us reasons for hope, and reasons also for sorrow."
– Mohsin Hamid, authorof The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West
"Raza asks hard questions [...] and she hopes to jolt people into looking for a new paradigm in the so-called war on cancer."
– Henry Marsh, The New York Times Book Review
"Raza, a Columbia University professor of medicine and practicing oncologist, offers a passionate account of how humans grapple with the scourge of cancer [...] Showing that compassion is just as important for cancer patients as the drugs administered to them, Raza's deeply personal work brings understanding and empathy to the fore in a way that a purely scientific explication never could."
– Publishers Weekly