You can read 9 more articles this month
The Price Of Experience: Writings On Living With Cancer
by Mike Marqusee
(OR Books, £8)
WHEN Mike Marqusee was diagnosed with multiple myeloma on 2007 he was adamant, largely for reasons of privacy, that he wasn’t going to write about his experience. But he changed his mind and a good thing he did so because he manages to pack into this slim volume of articles more than weightier tomes do in hundreds of pages.
Marqusee began writing not only celebrate the NHS and the treatment he has received but to defend it and, in particular St Bart’s hospital in London, from the current Tory-led attacks. He contrasts his time there with that of his compatriots in the US where treatment is expensive and health insurance even for those who can afford it — and 46 million can’t — rarely delivers what it promises.
Marqusee stresses that the emergence of a fragmented, two-tiered and hospitals-for-money system in this country will hit cancer patients particularly hard, dependent as they are on expensive drugs, integrated and multidisciplinary treatment and a skilled and motivated workforce.
Much of the author’s venom is directed at the drug companies. While most scientific advances have taken place in public hospitals and universities, he challenges the rights of corporations to take out patents in the first place.
Many of the studies that companies carry out are biased, selective and poorly funded with twice as much money being spent on marketing and advertising than on research and development.
Given that the pharmaceutical industry enjoys average profits of 17 per cent it’s obscene that they can sell vitally important drugs at such astronomical prices. What’s so great about a free market which thereby condemns millions to early and, in many cases, unbelievably painful deaths?
Marqusee also challenges those who argue for a “war on cancer,” in which some sort of ultimate cure shall be found.
Not only is this highly unlikely for such a varied, complicated and in many cases completely natural condition, it draws attention away from things which could so easily be achieved in the here and now.
A revolution in our woeful health and safety regime would for example do much to combat the six per cent of cancer deaths caused by occupational exposure to carcinogens.
Less emphasis on drug breakthroughs would also help emphasise “early diagnosis, improvements in care and refinements in existing treatments,” Marqusee contends.
Central to all this would be ending present day health inequalities and a recognition that cancer is a social and environmental issue which Marqusee says can only be fully addressed through far reaching economic and political change.
His comments on how he has dealt with cancer stand in complete contrast to the rather sensationalist, individualised and celebrity-obsessed treatment that the illness often gets in the media. And if you want to know what living life to the full really means, read Marqusee’s notes on William Blake. Nothing sort of magic.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.