In the essay Is a Tree Worth a Life? by Sally Thane Christensen, the author tells her story of ovarian cancer and a new drug that can potentially save her life. She uses very strong language to try and make the reader side with her. Christensens use of this is very effective because she really makes the audience feel her pain and sympathize with her.
The author starts out by explaining the Pacific yew tree. It is a conifer found only on the west coast, from southern Alaska to central California and in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
This tree has never had much value, in the past it was harvested by accident and then wasted. Now, it has been found that the bark from this tree has a certain chemical extract in it that can cure ovarian cancer. So far, 30% of patients treated with the drug, Taxol, have shown a significant response. The only problem with this experiment is that it takes the bark from 3 trees to make enough taxol to treat one patient.
This puts the environmental agencies up in arms. They believe that it may endanger the Pacific yew tree. Christensen on the other hand, having been diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago, believes this is ridiculous. She believes that the amount of women who die every year from ovarian and breast cancer deserve a chance to live, and if it takes killing trees, then so be it. Christensen says that she has been accepted for an experimental taxol treatment at the National Cancer institute, but she is lucky.
Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of women will die before this drug may ever be released. So the question stands, what is more important, a tree or a human life?
My opinion of this essay is that it is very good. Christensen really gets her point across to the reader. She uses specific facts and information to show that she knows what she is talking about. for example she says that this yea 12,000 women will die from ovarian cancer and 45,000 will die from breast cancer. She also has the right to be talking on the subject in the first place. The woman actually has CANCER. If she was just an ordinary person saying lets kill some trees, it would not have the same effect on her audience. Also, the fact that she opens up and tells you about her cancer is heart-wrenching and makes you want to listen to her. She says that she has been through four major abdominal surgeries and chemotherapy and nothing has worked. This really makes you feel sympathy for her. I feel that her conclusion paragraph is the most effective out of her whole essay though, she says yes its true, maybe owls live in these trees, and yes theyre pretty to look at, but the most important thing about it is its ability to save lives. She then brings up her husband and two sons, this makes the reader sympathize with her. She knows that her audience has children and it makes them imagine having cancer and what their kids would feel like. This use of language really grabs the reader and makes them think.
Overall, I think that this essay worked because of the sympathy that the reader feels for the writer. She gets your attention and keeps it. And she really makes you think, Is a tree worth a life?