The Blind Men and the Elephant: Episode 2
This episode picks up the story in the wake of the declaration of a “war on cancer” by Richard Nixon in 1971 and the search for a cure. Three causation theories emerge linking cancer to viruses, chemicals, and genes that divide the scientific community. In the lab, rapid progress is made in understanding the essential nature of the cancer cell, leading to the revolutionary discovery of the genetic basis of cancer, but few new therapies become available. Not until the late 1990s do advances in research begin to translate into more precise targeted therapies with breakthrough drugs. Following the history during these fraught decades, the film intertwines the contemporary story of an oncologist diagnosed with breast cancer. Her emotional and physical struggles provide a bracing counterpoint to the historical narrative. Distributed by PBS Distribution.