The War on Cancer at 50: The Origin Story Begins With a Socialite Citizen-Lobbyist

Published by
Kaiser Health News

The roots of the National Cancer Act can be traced to a small home in Watertown, Wisconsin. In the early 1900s, a girl named Mary tagged along when her mother went to visit their laundress, Mrs. Belter, who had breast cancer. When they arrived, the woman was in bed, her seven children around her. She was terribly sick. That day, Mary was only around 4 years old, but she remembered it for the rest of her life. “When I stood in the room and saw this miserable sight, with her children crowding around her, I was absolutely infuriated, indignant that this woman should suffer so and that there shoul…

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