Malignant Metaphor by Alanna Mitchell, ECW Press

Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths

Mitchell, Alanna

  • An unprecedented take on cancer and recovery

    Why does cancer have such a deadly hold over our collective imagination? Why do we fear it above all else, even bankruptcy, crime, and sudden death? And why is our dread intensifying, despite the fact that many types of cancer are less common than ever, more curable, and far better understood?

    Because cancer has become our malignant metaphor, a billboard for our secret sins. We haven’t been eating the right food; we have failed to exercise enough; we have buried too much destructive emotion — in short, we have brought the disease upon ourselves. Somehow, we have allowed cancer to represent an irreconcilable trifecta of blame and anxiety: it is inevitable, yet preventable and deserved.

    But it is time to rewrite the metaphor.

    When her beloved brother-in-law is diagnosed with the disease, award-winning science writer Alanna Mitchell throws herself into the latest research and clinical literature, breaking it down into a clear, understandable description of what doctors and scientists know of cancer and its treatments. Clear-eyed and compassionate, Mitchell opens the door to new ways of looking at our most-feared illness.

  • Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning journalist and author who writes about science and social trends. She is a global thinker who specializes in investigative reporting. Her most recent full-length book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis, is an international bestseller that won the prestigious Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. Her one-woman play based on that book was nominated for a Dora Award and she toured across Canada. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

  • Published: September 2015

    ISBN: 9781770412682

    Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

    Pages: 208


"Anyone fearing cancer (probably most of us) will find relief in this compelling book; it's like having a well-informed friend by your side, helping you dodge free radicals. By 'liberating the facts,' Mitchell turns the war on cancer into a hopeful dance." — Plum Johnson, author of They Left Us Everything

“In addition to her clear medical explanations, Mitchell’s compassionate attitude will bring comfort to those readers and their loved ones facing a cancer diagnosis.” — Publishers Weekly

"Alanna Mitchell’s admirable Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths joins a series of thoughtful writings about the most reviled disease . . . Interwoven through an elegant and readable account of the biology and history of cancer — frequently citing Mukherjee — is this much more personal and emotional story of terror and the need to take charge of one’s own destiny.” — Literary Review of Canada

“Mitchell does a convincing job sorting fact from fiction, diffusing fear, and challenging the manipulative language of fundraisers who aim for pocketbooks rather than intellectual honesty . . . Mitchell’s research is rooted in science, while her writing remains grippingly personal.” — Quill & Quire

"We have all been touched by cancer in one form or another. We’ve all crafted our own bespoke way of coping with its impact. I think we’d all do well to approach it with the openness and candour Mitchell brings to the table.” — Globe and Mail