Book review: A Life Not Chosen

Book cover for A Life Not Chosen

By Stewart Jackson. Trafford Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1425184599. Paperback, 132 pages. $14.52.

This is a short little book filled with lots of information about life in BC at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. It is a combination of the lives of a father and daughter, the former a pioneer businessman in New Westminster and the latter a physician. But Ethlyn Trapp was anything but an ordinary physician! 

First, she was female, which in pre–Second World War had to have been decidedly unusual. Second, she was a pioneer in the use of radiation therapy in BC and one of the founding “fathers” of the BC Cancer Institute, now the BC Cancer Agency, a world-renowned organization. Third, Dr Trapp was the first female president of the BCMA—and this at a time when fewer than 10% of physicians were female. 

The author documents correspondence between Dr Trapp and her friend Emily Carr with such delightful tidbits, such as the price Dr Trapp paid for one of Carr’s paintings ($250)! This book was an education for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the history of medicine in BC, but in particular to anyone who has an interest in the history of radiation oncology.

Lindsay M. Lawson, MD. Book review: A Life Not Chosen. BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. , January, February, 2011, Page(s) - News.

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