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CAMC Doctor Featured in Ken Burns’ Cancer Documentary

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Dr. Suzanne M. Cole, a hematologist and oncologist, knows she’s not always going to win the battle with cancer.

“Healing is not always about eternal life. Healing is helping people to have a good death. There’s some kind of healing in that too,” Cole says in the documentary "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies," March 30 - Apr. 1 at 9 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Dr. Cole is featured in the third and final episode of this all-inclusive documentary presented by Ken Burns. During this episode, Dr. Cole meets with a patient who isn’t responding to treatment and helps another patient cope with the high cost of medicine. Charleston Area Medical Center, where Cole practiced at the time, is also prominently featured in the film.

You can watch Dr. Cole in this 3-minute video from the documentary.

“We are very excited about CAMC’s role in the making of this documentary,” said Elizabeth Pellegrin, chief marketing officer for CAMC. “And of course the broadcast timing is perfect because we are in the process of opening our new cancer treatment facility.”

Listen to an interview with Dr. Suzanne Cole on Monday at 7:41 a.m. during West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s West Virginia Morning, on the radio of at wvpublic.org.

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Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, a three-part, six-hour television documentary begins Monday, March 30 at 9 p.m. on West Virginia Public Broadcasting and continues Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1 also at 9 p.m.

The series matches the epic scale of the disease, reshaping the way the public sees cancer and stripping away some of the fear and misunderstanding that has long surrounded it. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance but also of hubris, paternalism and misperception. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective and a biographer’s passion.

"West Virginia Public Broadcasting is proud to bring this documentary to our region, which suffers from high cancer rates, and also offers some of the most compassionate care for cancer patients you'll find anywhere," said Scott Finn, executive director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Episode Descriptions

  • Monday, March 30 at 9 p.m. -- “Magic Bullets” centers on the story of Sidney Farber’s evolution from obscure pathologist to renowned scientist and powerful public advocate who, together with the philanthropist Mary Lasker, galvanizes the federal government’s War on Cancer. The episode also ventures back in time to recount the stories of the early efforts to understand and fight the disease, from medieval apothecaries to the first use of radical surgery and radiation at the turn of the 20th Century.
  • Tuesday, March 31 at 9 p.m. -- “The Blind Men and the Elephant” chronicles the vital decades between the declaration of the federal government’s War on Cancer in 1971, and the breakthrough drugs Herceptin and Gleevec in 2000. This tumultuous thirty-year period was characterized by a widening chasm between the research lab, in which vital discoveries were finally illuminating the most basic nature of the cancer cell, and the clinic, in which frustration over the lack of new therapies led some to take extreme measures to fight the disease.  By the end of the century, however, the gap between lab and clinic had been bridged, and the first targeted therapies – drugs based on an understanding of the cancer cell’s vulnerabilities – were coming into wide use.
  • Wednesday, April 1 at 9 p.m. -- “Finding the Achilles Heel” covers the years from 2000 to today. As the millennium dawns, there is enormous optimism that targeted therapy will rapidly result in the conquest of cancer. But, as more is understood about the variety of genetic mutations and cancer’s cellular adaptability, optimism gives way to despair. In place of quick cures, many call for a new strategy of prevention and early detection, which hold the promise of curtailing or stopping some cancers before they take hold.

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is based on the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This “biography” covers its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the 20th Century to cure, control and conquer it, to a radical new understanding of its essence. The series also features the current status of cancer knowledge and treatment —the dawn of an era in which cancer may become a chronic or curable illness rather than its historic death sentence.

The project includes a robust website — www.TheStoryofCancer.org — and social and digital media components, including an extensive curriculum for K-12 schools, colleges and universities, nursing and medical schools.. Follow the discussion on social media: @CancerFilm on Twitter and www.facebook.com/CancerFilm on Facebook.


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