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I wonder now, though, if the steady presence of music around me didn’t contribute importantly to my sense of the cancer as a thing with its own rights. Now it sounds a little cracked to describe, but then I often felt that the tumor was as much a part of me as my liver or lungs and could call for its needs of space and food. I only hoped that it wouldn’t need all of me.

—Reynolds Price, A Whole New Life


Tuberculosis used to be called “consumption” because it consumes. It dissolved a lung or bone. But cancer produces. It is a monster of productivity.

—John Gunther, Death Be Not Proud


We must never feel disarmed: nature is immense and complex, but it is not impermeable to intelligence; we must circle around it, pierce and probe it, looking for the opening or making it.

—Primo Levi, The Periodic Table