publication date: Feb. 5, 2021
Storytelling is a part of J Freireich’s legacy
By Paul Goldberg
J enjoyed explaining that the letter J in his name appeared in his birth certificate.
He had no idea why his mother, an immigrant seamstress at a Chicago sweatshop, put it there, but it was certainly not an abbreviation for an actual name, Jacob, for example.
J’s J was its own thing. No period was to be used.
Great stories beautifully told are a part of J’s legacy. He spoke with reporters and historians, leaving behind more primary source material than your average Joe.
Emil J Freireich died Feb. 1, aged 93, at MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Here are J’s stories in his own words:
Freireich’s conversation with Daniel Hayes, a breast cancer expert at the University of Michigan and former president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, is particularly entertaining.
There is also a beautifully annotated, three-session, seven-hour oral history done by MD Anderson.
NIH historians, too, sat down with Freireich. The interview appears here.
Another fine resource is a book by John Laszlo, “The Cure of Childhood Leukemia: Into the Age of Miracles.” Laszlo, both a participant and a historian of these events, records a lengthy conversation with Freireich and makes it a part of the narrative.
In this issue, we supplement J’s storytelling with an obituary by MD Anderson, and appreciations by Hagop Kantarjian, Moshe Talpaz, and Otis Brawley.