Treating cancer in the 19th century

CBS News has photoessay, at times horrific, of cancer patients of the 19th century, including:

33 year-old Jane Todd Crawford, of Wellington, Ohio, (who) rode 60 miles on horseback to seek treatment for what turned out to be a huge ovarian tumor. Anesthesia wasn’t yet available, so she sang and recited psalms to calm herself during the 25-minute operation. The surgeon made a nine-inch incision and “took out 15 pounds of a dirty gelatinous-looking substance” before removing the rest of the tumor. She was up and about five days later, and 25 days later she got back on her horse and rode home. She lived another 50 years.

Cancer still has a way to go before it is beaten, but compared to then, we’ve come along way.


2 responses to “Treating cancer in the 19th century

  1. Amazing story! This reminded me of my paternal grandmother’s story, which unfortunately did not have a happy outcome….
    She too, suffered from ovarian tumours, and one day (when my dad was just 12 yrs old) she packed a small overnight bag and walked to St. Joseph’s Hospital to have surgery. Sadly, she never returned.
    My grandfather was left with six young children to raise on his own.
    He never remarried.
    Amazing how people survived at all in those days.
    So many amazing stories to be told!

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Wow. That’s a great story, though sad.

      I am always grateful that medicine continues to improve. May it always do so.