January 1, 1906
Cancer isn't worried about by those eating native diets.
All this was conversational stock in trade on the river in 1906; and, to a slightly lesser extent, also during my second journey, in 1908. There were humorous tales of amateur dentistry against toothache, and far from humorous ones of scurvy through which teeth came loose and finally dropped out, as death approached.
Speaking of the Klondikers, everybody was saying what the bishop had been the first to tell me — that, so far as scurvy was concerned, those tenderfeet were best off who brought the least food with them. For the Athapaskans would not see them die of hunger; and they fed the tenderfeet on medium-cooked fresh fish and game, to the general benefit of their health and the complete avoidance of scurvy.
No one, that I can remember, was seriously worried about cancer; nor was I myself particularly interested. As intimated, I now remember about malignant disease from my first journey chiefly that Bishop Reeve thought it to belong to a group of ills which had behind them nutritional issues. But I do remember noticing more talk of cancer as we approached the Eskimo country, to the effect that the New England whalers, who wintered among the Eskimos east and west of the Mackenzie delta, could find no more cancer among them than missionaries and fur traders had been able to find among the Athapaskans — meaning none. The bishop said he had discussed this with other missionaries who knew more than he did about the Eskimos; I think he mentioned the bishops Bompas and Stringer, and that he had sent messages through Stringer to the whaling captains bolstering their seacoast results with his own from the interior.