a probing account of how the disease is treated

I’ve long been a fan of Professor Hannah Fry. Her TV documentaries (The Joy of Data) and regular radio shows (including Radio 4’s The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry) consistently provide captivating numbers. Still, I had no idea she was seriously ill Making Sense of Cancer with Hannah Fry (BBC Two) was an eye opener in more ways than one.

Her first words in this compelling, revealing film were, “F–k, that means I could be stage three.” After postponing her smear test for six months, Fry, aged 36, “was diagnosed with a cervical tumor from the Size of a gobstopper”. She immediately bought a stack of books and set up a “cancer research den” at home.

Fry took refuge in statistics and used her impressive mathematical brain to dig deep into the way we diagnose and treat the disease. Was an operation really necessary? Are the side effects of chemotherapy worth it if it only saves a life five percent of the time?

Parallel to her investigations, she drew a raw, refreshingly vain video diary. Fry filmed herself in hospital gowns and “devilishly sexy” compression stockings. Her biggest fear, she sobbed, was not being there for her two young daughters.

Fry argued that more honest conversations were needed. Anxious patients understandably want doctors to take control, but don’t question their advice. Instead of facing reality, we cling to false hope. Our approach to cancer, Fry suggested,
had become over-medicated and risk-averse. Yet, as she admitted, “There’s a disconnect between what the numbers say and feeling like the number.”

Reluctantly, as she had hoped to have a third child, Fry underwent a radical hysterectomy. When she found out it had worked, that was a beautiful moment. Blending the personal with the universal, this inspirational film boldly challenges medical orthodoxy. This has made me an even bigger Fry fan.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2022/06/02/making-sense-cancer-hannah-fry-review-probing-account-disease/ a probing account of how the disease is treated


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