Friday, March 20, 2015

To name an illness is to describe a certain condition of suffering -- a literary act before it becomes a medical one. A patient, long before he (sic) becomes the subject of medical scrutiny, is, at first, simply a storyteller, a narrator of suffering -- a traveler who has visited the kingdom of the ill. To relieve an illness, one must begin, then, by unburdening its story.

- The Emperor of All Maladies

ETA Just a few pages on, a quote from a surgeon on eighteenth-century mastectomies: "To perform the operation, the surgeon should be steadfast and not allow himself to become discomforted by the cries of the patient."