October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Lizzie Stark's new book is a perfect read to help raise awareness. Although currently living in Boston, much of Lizzie's life (and some of the book) centers around Fayetteville. Her grandfather (Roy Rom), uncle (Curt Rom), and aunt (Melissa Harwood-Rom) are professors and administrators at Uof A. Her grandpa owns a pick-your-own apple orchard on the skirts of town and, before her death in 2010, her grandmother was perhaps the longest breast cancer survivor in Northwest Arkansas.
Would you cut out your healthy breasts and ovaries if you thought it might save your life? That's not a theoretical question for journalist Lizzie Stark's relatives, who grapple with the horrific legacy of cancer built into the family DNA, a BRCA mutation that has robbed most of her female relatives of breasts, ovaries, peace of mind, or life itself. In Pandora's DNA, Stark uses her family's experience to frame a larger story about the so-called breast cancer genes, exploring the morass of legal quandaries, scientific developments, medical breakthroughs, and ethical concerns that surround the BRCA mutations. Although a genetic test for cancer risk may sound like the height of scientific development, the treatment remains crude and barbaric. Through her own experience, Stark shows what it's like to live in a brave new world where gazing into a crystal ball of genetics has many unintended consequences.
“An extraordinary book, written with passion and compassion, Pandora’s DNA illuminates a new world of science and medicine.” —Siddhartha Mukherjee, oncologist and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer