Life Blood, written by a renowned leukaemia physician, tells unforgettable stories of his leukaemia patients’ battles to be cured but also uniquely describes the stresses that doctors face when looking after extremely ill young people during an extraordinary time in their lives.
In reflecting on his long and illustrious career, Professor Marks’ memoir offers frank descriptions of his own medical family, some personal experiences of ill-health and his relationships with colleagues and patients in the NHS. Partly written during the Covid pandemic and as he approached retirement, Life Blood offers highly informed and compassionate views on modern medicine, from a pivotal point in both the author’s own professional life and the history of healthcare.
Uniquely, through these real-life stories, we enter the world of the leukaemia patient, to understand what it is like to be diagnosed and treated for a life-threatening yet frequently curable cancer. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia or ALL was the first cancer to be consistently cured in children and is a model for much of modern cancer therapy given that more than half of us will develop cancer in our lifetime. Looking to the future we read of Nitya, whose treatment-refractory leukaemia was cured by CAR T cells, a modern immunotherapy using genetically modified white blood cells, which is now being adapted to treat breast, lung and colon cancer.