Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Review of the Week

How much is one life worth?

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 05 May 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2365
  1. Karol Sikora, dean, University of Buckingham Medical School, and consultant oncologist, Hammersmith Hospital, London
  1. karol.sikora{at}

    The travails of four US patients make for an angry novel and a serious critique of how health care should be paid for, finds Karol Sikora

    I don’t read much and certainly not novels by American feminist writers. And I don’t do books about people with cancer. But So Much for That really shook me—I was told it would. A middle class New York suburban redneck, Shep, has the ambition to pack in his work as a handyman and retire to an island off Africa where things are cheap. This is a little wacky, as such people usually never have a passport. Sadly, just before he goes, his wife, Glynis, is given a diagnosis of cancer and enters the great US medical system, battling with her insurers, oncologist, and the system.

    Three other characters have medical problems: Jackson, a work colleague of Shep’s who has penis size issues and is left mutilated after cowboy enlargement surgery; Flicka, …

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