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Surprising Science

How a Ten-Year Cancer Battle Became a “Happy Time”

Spanish cancer survivor Albert Espinosa says we need to rethink our traditional notions of friendship and allow ourselves to form relationships with people who are different from us.

What’s the Latest Development?

At the age of 14, Albert Espinosa was diagnosed with bone cancer and given just a three percent chance of survival. Ten years on and cancer free, Espinosa is making waves with a new book that recalls his battle against cancer as a happy time in his life. The book, called El Mundo Amarillo (The Yellow World), “details the discoveries he made during his illness – including how to stay in touch with your inner 14-year-old, or contemplate your own death – which he believes can apply to life outside hospitals.” Steven Spielberg has bought rights to a portion of the story, which may appear as an American TV series.

What’s the Big Idea?

Espinosa says the unusual friendships he cultivated at the cancer ward are what carried him through ten years of cancer treatment, which saw his leg amputated, a lung lost and part of his liver removed. “He believes the intensity and nuances of different types of friendships has been ignored and the crux of his book is advising his readers to actively seek out people who can change their lives. ‘Over the course of time the idea of family has changed, the idea of society has changed, but our ideas of friendship have stayed the same. It seems ridiculous to me.'”

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