About the Book
In 1971, with the next election looking less than promising, President Richard Nixon knew he couldn’t win the Vietnam War. But another war was brought to his attention. On December 23, 1971, Nixon signed the National Cancer Act and declared war on cancer.
In time, the law would lead to safer, more effective treatments. It saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But it did little to erase the stigma associated with the world’s most feared disease.
Shunned. Ignored. Discriminated against. Forgotten. For many shameful years in our nation’s history, that was the fate of anyone who received a cancer diagnosis. Many individuals—sometimes even the patients’ relatives—thought it was contagious. This ignorance cost people their families, their jobs, and, in some cases, their entire sense of self-worth. They were no longer seen as people who could contribute to society. As if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, they were seen as a drain on the country.
Then, in 1986, twenty-three men and women—all with a personal connection to cancer—came together for a weekend summit. Their goal was not to cure the disease, but to destroy its myths and stereotypes. The creation of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) that weekend launched the cancer survivorship movement, and forever changed the way we look at those diagnosed with the disease.
With the determination of its founders and the dedication of its growing numbers of supporters, the NCCS grew from a grassroots cause to a national mission. Twelve years after its inception, it led a march on Washington of more than 200,000 people. It has since succeeded in banning discrimination, ushered in survivor healthcare reform, and provided researchers with invaluable knowledge about the long-term impacts of treatment.
Part medical history, part group biography of average citizens who did extraordinary things—and set to be published during the fiftieth anniversary year of the war on cancer—Judith L. Pearson’s From Shadows to Life is the story of a social movement that continues to improve life for millions of Americans.
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