De-Throning the 'Emperor'

Posted by Gerard Longo on

On Sunday night, PBS39 kicked off Cancer Awareness Week by airing the Ken Burns documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. The film, directed by Barak Goodman and based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, takes a six-hour look at the history of cancer, from its earliest documented appearances thousands of years ago, to the stunning medical and technological advances used to treat it today.

Even if you missed our special presentation of the documentary, there are still ways to explore this film and its subject matter. The best way is to head to the project’s official website, There, you’ll find additional information about the film, an interactive timeline documenting the history and milestones of the disease, and personal content from the producers (Producers’ Blog) and members of the public (Story Wall).

The Story Wall is particularly powerful. Not only does it provide firsthand accounts from people who have encountered the disease, but it provides the opportunity for anybody who has battled cancer to contribute their story. Here, you will find what some still consider surprising – that cancer does not discriminate. Regardless of age, gender, race, religion and, sometimes, even health, cancer is something that can affect anybody, at any time. It does not play favorites, nor does it allow you to prepare for its intrusion.

Eliminating this problem is of the utmost urgency – for all of us. For that reason, films like Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies are incredibly important. Even with a prevailing sense that humanity is closer than ever to victory in this battle, there is still much left to discover. The work of the human race to solve this malicious riddle is not finished, and won’t be until every question is answered.

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