9 to 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday on WHYY (Channel 12).
Monday: "Magic Bullets" The first episode follows the centuries-long search for a "cure" for cancer, centering on the story of Boston Children's Hospital pediatrician Sidney Farber, the father of modern chemotherapy. His pioneering work against childhood leukemia in the late 1940s galvanized a "war on cancer" - one that continually showed the elusive nature of cures. Interwoven with Farber's tale is the contemporary story of a 14-month-old diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Tuesday: "The Blind Men and the Elephant" After President Richard Nixon's declaration of the "war on cancer" in 1971, rapid progress is made in understanding the essential nature of the cancer cell, leading to the revolutionary discovery of the genetic basis of cancer. Still, few novel therapies become available until the late 1990s, with the advent of more precise, molecularly targeted therapies. The science history is intertwined with the contemporary story of an oncologist diagnosed with breast cancer.
Wednesday: "Finding the Achilles' Heel" Buoyant optimism over "targeted" therapies gives way to the recognition that cancer is even more complex than imagined. Amid calls for a new focus on prevention and early detection, scientists make headway in harnessing the immune system against cancer. The film follows two experimental immunotherapy patients - Doug Rogers, a NASCAR mechanic with advanced melanoma, and Emily Whitehead, a 7-year-old with leukemia.