A Surgical Path In his new book, Healing Children: Stories from the Frontiers of Pediatric Medicine (Penguin Random House), Kurt Newman M.D. ’78, president and CEO of Children’s National Health System, explores the resilience of the children he has treated over three decades as a pediatric surgeon. Here he explains how he first was drawn to this role.
My journey began during my third year of medical school with an unlikely discovery while working in the lab of Duke’s Robert Lefkowitz, a future Nobel Prize winner. The assignment was inspiring, and the scientific breakthroughs were incredible, but my world changed when I felt a lump in my neck while leaning over a microscope. I needed surgery to remove the mass—it was thyroid cancer. Being a cancer patient at my own medical school was emotional and intense. Wearing a hospital gown instead of a white coat or scrubs was totally disorienting. However, being fixed by someone else’s hands opened my eyes to the magic and possibility of surgery. In an incredible act of grace, at the post-op visit, my surgeon unbuttoned his shirt, showed me a scar on his neck, and said, “I had thyroid cancer as a resident, and I’ve had a happy life—you can, too.” And with that, I was hooked. Several years later, as a surgery resident at one of Harvard’s teaching hospitals, I had a rotation at Boston Children’s Hospital. This was a new world for me—a hospital devoted solely to children. Contrary to my expectations, it was filled with music, art, light, and fun. But it was the children that sealed the deal. During my first month, I was called to the Emergency Department to work up a twelve-year-old girl for appendicitis. At the end of my exam, I could tell she was terrified. Channeling my past, I pulled down my collar, showed her my scar, and joked, “See, it’s not so bad, and your scar won’t even show.” She laughed, and I made sure to do my best suturing job ever in the OR that day. n R E C O M M E N D AT I O N S from Lane Windham ’90
BY DUKE ALUMNI
Why the Vote Wasn’t Enough for Selma (Duke University Press) Karlyn Forner A.M. ’11, Ph.D. ’14 You, Me, and the Violence (Mad Creek Books) Catherine Taylor Ph.D. ’98
Regroup: The How-To of Never Giving Up (Inkspiration Press) Jaunique Sealey ’00
The Launch Book (LID Publishing) Sanyin Siang ’96, M.B.A. ’02
Author of the new book, Knocking on Labor’s Door: Union Organizing in the 1970s and the Roots of a New Economic Divide (UNC Press), Windham suggests: Amy Goldstein’s Janesville really nails the current crisis facing America’s working class. She digs into people’s lives after a General Motors plant shuts down, showing how hope and determination will get you only so far when there are no decent jobs. Kathleen Barry’s Femininity in Flight is great airplane reading. It’s about flight attendants’ labor activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Airlines used to fire women when they turned thirty-five! To protest that injustice, stewardesses donned their high heels and perfectly coiffed hairdos at a Capitol Hill press conference and dared lawmakers to
guess who among them was above the age of thirty-five. Heather Thompson’s Blood in the Water won the Pulitzer Prize for good reason. It’s an emotionally wrenching story and brings in a missing piece to today’s conversation on race, policing, and civil rights. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lawrence Goodwyn’s classic, The Populist Moment. Like generations of Duke students, I learned in Goodwyn’s undergraduate course “Social Movements in the American South” that movements thrive within a culture of change.
Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World (Corwin) Ana Homayoun ’01
Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870–1967 (UNC Press) Joan Marie Johnson ’90
Published on Nov 29, 2017