Ken Burns traces history of cancer in new PBS documentary

March 30, 2015 5:28 AM

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Ken Burns had a lot of good reasons why he should not have taken on the six-hour PBS documentary series about cancer that will air over three nights this week. When Burns was approached about it, he was already juggling a dizzying number of projects.

But there was a single consideration that trumped all of that: His mother, Lyla Burns, died a half a century ago at age 42 after a decade-long battle with breast cancer that metastasized.

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