Ken Burns’ three-part PBS documentary on cancer sheds new light on the complicated disease

Ken Burns has stepped away from his political and history-focused documentaries to tackle a new three-part PBS documentary about cancer that starts Monday on PBS at 9 p.m. ET. It’s called “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.” The subject is personal for Burns. His mother died from cancer when he was just 11 years old. […]

Ken Burns has stepped away from his political and history-focused documentaries to tackle a new three-part PBS documentary about cancer that starts Monday on PBS at 9 p.m. ET. It’s called “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”

The subject is personal for Burns. His mother died from cancer when he was just 11 years old. That has served as motivation and inspiration for him to step in and approach the subject head on.

“As much as you want to move away from it, you have to move towards it,” he says.

The documentary focuses on how cancer continues to baffle scientists and doctors in many ways and disrupts so many lives. It’s history is complicated, making it a disease that we really don’t fully understand still, as much as we believe we are making progress.

The mystery of cancer and the sometimes helpless feeling that can come with diagnosis affects so many people. Burns and others involved with the film are approaching the subject of cancer in a way that can put it in a new context, or perhaps take it out of the current context, depending on how you look at it. It is an abrupt new look at cancer, setting denial aside.

This looks to be a very thoughtful, poignant look at a disease we all know of but many know very little about.

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