in Personalised cancer medicine


We owe numerous debts of gratitude to colleagues, participants, advisors, friends and family who have helped us throughout our project and authorship of this book. The Wellcome Trust has generously supported our work, giving us the freedom to pursue our research ideas and involved us in a vibrant and inspiring community of academics and scholars from across the humanities and social sciences. We are particularly grateful to Dan O’Connor and Paul Woodgate for their support. Sarah would also like to thank the Rockefeller Foundation and its Bellagio Center Residency Programme which generously supported her Academic Writing Residency in the autumn of 2018. We would also like to thank colleagues and reviewers at Manchester University Press for supporting this book, particularly our commissioning editor Tom Dark.

A large project like this involves numerous colleagues who have been part of the team, including supporting it ‘behind the scenes’, and we want to pay tribute to their contribution here: thank you to Kay Lindsay, Gwen Jacques, Emma Doyle, Tineke Broer, Sue Chowdhry, Vivien Smith, Seiyan Yang, Mayowa Irelewuyi, Thomas Kerboul and Steph Sinclair.

Many colleagues at the universities of Leeds and Edinburgh have supported our work from its inception – thank you. Particular appreciation is due to those who provided much-welcomed advice and support throughout the project as part our Advisory Board – Debbie Beirne, David Cameron, Harry Campbell, Charlie Gourley, Graeme Laurie, Maggie Knowles, Derek Stewart, Steve Sturdy and Christopher Twelves. We are also incredibly grateful for the support of colleagues from other institutions and organisations who joined our Advisory Board – Pascale Bourret, Mary Boulton, Alberto Cambrosio and Kathryn Scott.

We have also been encouraged and supported by other ‘friends to the project’ who have guided our work, notably Tim Aitman, Julie Atkey, Karen Bell, Malcolm Dunlop, Tim Bishop, Sarah Chan, Sonja Erikainen, Margaret Frame, Gill Haddow, Geoff Hall, Peter Hall, Nina Hallowell, Denise Hancock, Ruth Holliday, Greg Hollin, Andrew Jack, Iain Macpherson, Julia Newton-Bishop, Martyn Pickersgill, Evi Theodoratou, Karen Throsby, Nick West, Andy Wilson, Gill Wilson, Allison Worth and Frances Yuille. We also thank our colleagues at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre and the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society, both at the University of Edinburgh, the Yorkshire Cancer Research, Leeds Cancer Centre and the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds for their intellectual and practical support.

We have benefited from warm and insightful support from our two Patient and Public Involvement panels, who have journeyed with us over the past few years, providing encouragement and very sound advice on many aspects of our research. We can't thank you enough for this.

There is a large and, at times, quite intimidating community of scholars working on cancer patienthood, and this world does not always intersect with the fields of science and technology studies and medical sociology where we ourselves are most at ease. However, we have been grateful to colleagues who have involved us in their networks, events and projects. Particular thanks are due to Alberto and Pascale, Ignacia Arteaga, Rikke Sand Andersen, Kirstin Bell, Patrick Castel, Sophie Day, Bobbie Farsides, Cinzia Greco, Henry Llewellyn, Joanna Latimer, Anneke Lucassen, Mary McBride, Mike Parker, Jeannie Shoveller, Carsten Timmermann and William Viney. Likewise, we have had the privilege of engaging with a range of clinical and scientific networks and would like to acknowledge sincerely their receptiveness to social science and to our research.

Profound and sincere thanks are also due to all of the participants in our research. Although we cannot name anyone we owe a particular debt of gratitude to a number of patients, nurses and doctors who have not only been incredibly knowledgeable and helpful participants in their own right but have also shepherded our research work so that we worked sensitively and appropriately with other staff, patients and family members. We have been humbled by the willingness of people to give time to our study, even in the most difficult of circumstances, and inspired and moved by their insightful and reflective accounts of their experiences and perspectives. At times our observations and interviews were uncomfortable and challenging, but we were continually struck by how caring participants were about these encounters and about the staff, family members and fellow patients who were part of their stories. Many patients and family members were keen to speak to us because of a sense of gratitude and reciprocity, a desire to give something back to the NHS that had cared for them, or their relatives, through their cancer. This sometimes made us worry that we had been mistaken for nurses or practitioners who deliver care or could directly influence what happens in the NHS. But through a process of dialogue and reflection in the team and with our advisors we came to appreciate these research encounters as an opportunity for dignity and self-worth for patients and family members and we accept their gift of participation with gratitude.

We write at a time of immense sadness and consternation as the world experiences a pandemic on a scale none of us could have imagined as we conducted the research reported in this book. We find it hard to know what kinds of personal or collective futures will emerge from these most difficult of circumstances, and what kind of health service and support will be available to cancer patients, given the impact of Covid-19. This pandemic brings added challenges for those with cancer, disrupting diagnosis and treatment and multiplying anxieties about the future. This is a major concern for practitioners too. We don't know what our readers will have gone through to get to this point of opening a book about personalised cancer medicine and what feelings this will generate about the topics of health and futures we discuss herein. Our best wishes and final thanks are therefore offered to you, our future readers, for taking the time to engage with our work, despite all that will have passed in the months between writing these words and the publication of our book.

Anne Kerr et al.
April 2020

Personalised cancer medicine

Future crafting in the genomic era


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