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Dying of Breast Cancer in Early America

12 Sep 2017Health Essays

American Experiences (7th edition) by Randy Roberts and James S. Olson primarily focuses on how its people act against America. It shows how people deal, bended and resisted in contrary to their nation. The readings look at every person on how their carried their work, how they perform their play, revolutionized and loved, subsist and died. It is the story of American people. It illustrates every single action or steps on how a person acts.

One of the reading articles I am interested with is about the Wounded and Presumed Dead: Dying of Breast Cancer. I have searched for the past accounts in early America during any interval up to 1950 about the women’s incident of breast cancer. In the article, the author cited many persons, for example the Adam’s family, who suffered from the disease. Although there's an actual occurrence of the disease which have swelled over the past two decades, it still very hard to find confirmations on how women deal with breast cancer. In contemporary times, it is difficult to find out how a woman suffers from the disease, how do they cope and how do they survive, if ever. Coded materials are hard to locate recognizing breast cancer on a person. In addition, there's no concrete evidence showing that a person really died from the breast cancer alone because of people on that time suffered also from different kind of cancer not only breast cancer. Mainly, a disease is recognized with just an intelligent guess not in a scientific diagnosis. By that time, people mainly rely on the traditional process of detecting an illness since medial breakthroughs has not yet unveiled.

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If we assume that this disease really affected women, then, by what percentage among women is affected? One percent, two percent or five percent? How do we know? People could conclude that a certain disease is really a breast cancer due to the fact that the time is assumed to be "breast cancer occurrence". Also different diseases scourge the people. What if it is tuberculosis, cancer or anything? Besides, in the article, it is hard to conclude that breast cancer really developed from a breast cancer itself. In short, the strikes of the disease on a person are just a story of a person. How could we assure that his story is really true? Here say is difficult to justify that it is really true.

In the other side, if it really happened, the procedure on operation is very unethical. In one story, the process of treatment seems to be inhuman, treating a person like an animal. It says that there was no anesthesia or any other pre-operation procedure for the pain to minimize. In fact, the surgeon just heated metal spatula for the wound to stop bleeding. The amputation procedure is really ruthless. The process should not be like this for it treat a human just a swine where you can do butchery without even mercy. In addition, the process shows that the person has no more dignity and worth. Moreover, after the brutal treatment of the patient, you will suddenly know the outcome was very disappointing where the disease was not cured after all possible treatments was done. Imagine how the patient undergone treatment such as amputation and the result is not a success. How atrocious! The worst case is where the disease grew and get bigger. A patient suffered from the great pain of human operation. Yes, in that time there existed no safe surgical operation, but the way a physician handle the patient is a very immoral.

Besides, as the article says that on the process of operating the patient, the operational equipment is not sterilized. Meaning, the tools are not safe in operation. I think, that time, doctor or surgeon has already the concept of clean operation. As a doctor, he must know it beforehand. It just reflects the true image of operation procedure as well as the overall approach of surgeons as well as doctors towards their surgical procedure. This single procedure will reflect, in general to the actual operation how doctors treat their patient.


  • Roberts, R., & Olson, J. S. (2007). American Experiences In (7th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 113-120). United States: Longman Pub Group.
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