Facts are the science world’s stock-in-trade, but in an era of fake news it is ever more important to build public trust by avoiding exaggerated claims and jargon
One of my most cherished possessions is a handmade cherrywood salad bowl that’s never held a leaf of lettuce. It is 25 years old and gets more beautiful every year. The bowl was a gift, carved by a widower who was left to raise his daughter alone when his wife died under my care as an oncologist. My patient, who I’ll call Erica, had the most challenging form of breast cancer and I didn’t have the tools to save her life. I’ve always felt undeserving of the gift, despite doing everything I could.
Five years later, I participated in the development of a medicine for Erica’s type of cancer, Herceptin. While regretting that it had not come fast enough for Erica, I am deeply grateful for the scientific advances that mean better care for patients like her today.