10 Things You Should Know About Rachel Carson


1
She Hid Her Breast Cancer From the Public
After the release of 'Silent Spring,' Rachel Carson was interviewed in April 1963 at her home by CBS reporter Eric Sevareid about the book's examination of pesticide use. Carson was wearing a wig and hiding the fact that she had breast cancer. CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

It was no surprise that after Carson published "Silent Spring," she came under attack by the chemical industry, and some in the government even accused her of being an "alarmist." But she remained strong and spirited and continued to speak out against what she believed was a threat to the natural world.

What Carson was private about, however, was she was also fighting another battle —breast cancer. And she was terrified to let the public know. When she testified before Congress soon after publication of "Silent Spring," she was wearing a wig to hide her balding head, a side effect of radiation treatments.

Just two years after "Silent Spring," she died of metastatic breast cancer. She was just 57 [source: silentspring.org]. She had worked through incredible pain and illness to complete her last book and her partner Dorothy Freeman would later maintain that "Silent Spring" had killed her.

But before she died, Carson wrote that she was thinking about her next book — it was going to be about the mysterious rise in sea levels. If only she had lived. Given the extraordinary influence of "Silent Spring," it's hard not to think that Rachel Carson might have been able to publicize the dangers of climate change decades before it became a global concern.

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