The disease of breast cancer was a disease of women, which began to be actively noticed from the beginning of the nineteenth century. John Adams’ daughter, Nabby Smith, was also at the mercy of the disease. Lack of knowledge forced the girl to wander around the doctors in search of a solution to the problem. In such cases, European doctors were engaged in amputation of the resulting tumor, but no anesthesia could alleviate such a cruel and painful operation. The tools for such operations were also small: large fork with two, six-inch prongs sharpened to a needle point, a wooden-handled razor and a pile of compress bandages (Shadle & Olsen, n.d.). Doctors of that time did not yet know that cancer can penetrate into neighboring skin cells, and getting rid of it at the site of the tumor – the woman’s body did not get rid of the disease.
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Although Nabbi may have gone into remission after a painful operation, the medicine of the time could not track new processes in the body. Headaches and symptoms of “rheumatism,” Nabby thought, were again a progressive manifestation of breast cancer. Even now, in the age of technology, the diagnosis and treatment of this deadly disease is problematic. In those years, the tumor was treated in difficult, painful ways, but if it were not for the case of Nabbi Smith, then medicine could have learned about cancer much later, which would have taken many more lives.
Shadle, R. & Olsen, J. (n.d.) Dying of Breast Cancer in the 1800. Web.