When associating breast cancer with a loved one or friend it is important to realize that women have always suffered from this dreadful disease. We don't have to go any further than a manuscript cookbook located in the Morse Department of Special Collections to obtain evidence of how some people in England during the late 18th century used a remedy to treat cancer. For several centuries personal handwritten cookbooks often included remedies for curing an illness as well as recipes for preparing food. The following is a transcription of a remedy that was used for breast cancer in the late 1700s (it was transcribed by Allison Skees, history major and student employee in Special Collections). It is from an English manuscript cookbook attributed to Mrs. T. Gould containing recipes and remedies circa 1795-1841; the spelling and grammar have not been altered.
A quart of oil, the best salad oil, Sage leaves, Green Camomile & wormwood of each an equal quantity & as much oil as will steep them in, the Herbs must be one day after they are gather'd, to day; then cut them in pieces & put into the oil, with 3 ounces of the finest white sugar powder'd very fine, let it stand a week before it is stired & then set it in the sun for 14 days, stirring it every day, at the end of the time strain it off from the herbs squeezing them with a strong cloth, very hard, then put into the oil Lavender Tops and the buds of scarlet Roses as much as the oil will steep when it has stood two days boil it at least two hours over a slow fire then strain it from the roses & Lavender and put a quarter of a pint of the best Brandy and bottle it off, the part effected must be anointed with it twice a day & kept covered with soft flannel dipped in the oil-
A Lady had a Cancer in her breast which swelled to a great sore she had consented to it's being taken off when this recipe was recommended to her the Surgeon consent'd to delay the operation a week while she made trail of it as the said ease of mind was material at the end of the week they saw it & it was in such a state for the better, that they did not insist on her undergoing the operation she continued the use of the oil and was entirely cured in the year 1794. Mrs. Hornecks Breast was all colours therefore the cancer had made great progress A Lady in Wales to whom I gave this recipe thinks she has cured many poor people of cancer by trying it. Lord Clinton's aunt to whom I gave the recipe sent it to her sister in Switzerland who had a cancer her Husband was a Physician & he attributed her recovery entirely to the use of the oil-
This piece is in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month to illustrate that the disease has inflicted hardship and suffering for centuries; people are encouraged to support the American Cancer Society and other efforts to find a cure.
Below is the remedy found on pages 75-77 in "Mrs. T. Gould's Recipe Book," Morse Department of Special Collections.