NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
July 12, 2005 • Volume 2 / Number 28 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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A Conversation with Amy Dockser Marcus

Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Dockser Marcus received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting after writing a series of stories about cancer survivors.

Amy Dockser Marcus Why did you choose to write these stories?
Cancer's impact is felt far beyond the 10 million survivors living with the disease - it touches every survivor's family, friends, and community. I knew that, thanks to new treatments, many people were living longer with cancer. I was interested in exploring the challenges created by this phenomenon.

In writing these stories, what did you feel were the most important messages to communicate?
My goal was to allow the survivors to tell their own stories and to write them in a way that reflected how they told them - in an understated, simple style that was not maudlin or sentimental. I saw universal issues in their personal struggles that I knew would touch people, even if they did not know someone who had cancer.

What did you enjoy the most about writing these stories?
I enjoyed getting to know the people whom I was profiling. The relationships that I developed with them during the writing and reporting process were very meaningful to me. I came into their lives at a difficult time. Some of them were still in the middle of their treatments. And yet their willingness to share one of the worst things that ever happened to them because they thought it might help someone else was very inspiring.

How has telling these stories affected the cancer survivors who you interviewed?
Andy Martin, the young medical student who studied his own rare tumor because no one else was, passed away 8 months after the story about him ran on the Wall Street Journal's front page. But a generous reader who was touched by his efforts provided funding for a researcher who continues to study SNUC, the cancer that Andy had. In that way, Andy lives on. I think the people whose stories I told understood that their experiences continue to touch and help other people in small and large - and often unforeseen - ways.