Nonfiction | September 01, 1988

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When the John Jacob Astors offered to give the Womans Hospital of New York a cancer pavilion in 1884, they received a cool reception from the hospital board.  Some of the trustees feared that cancer was contagious.  Others did not want to associate the hospital with such a sickness.  “Cancer may not be contagious,” one board member is supposed to have said, “but the name is.” Irritated and impatient, the Astors decided to finance the building of a new and separate institution for women with cancer.  It opened in 1887, only a century ago, as the New York Cancer Hospital, the first such institution in the United States.

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