Not by the numbers

Robert A. Lisak

Lucy Goddard Kalanithi, M.D. ’07, returned to New Haven on May 12 as the featured guest at the School of Medicine’s first Community-Wide Read-In, which filled Harkness Auditorium with students, staff, and faculty. She read from When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir by her late husband, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, M.A., M.D. ’07. In it, he describes his journey from literature to medicine, and how he came to terms with his lung cancer. He died in 2015 at the age of 36.

Even as her husband’s body failed him, Kalanithi said, writing the book gave him satisfaction. “It’s useful to feel purposeful and helpful even when you’re ill,” she said.

The community reading fostered a sense that “we’re all in this together,” said Nancy R. Angoff, M.P.H. ’81, M.D. ’90, HS ’93, associate dean for student affairs, who organized the event with Anna Reisman, M.D., associate professor of medicine and director of the Humanities in Medicine Program. “The work we do takes a toll,” Angoff said. “Coming together as a community around literature to discuss a topic of interest to all of us is on some level therapeutic.”

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Nancy Angoff

Associate Professor of Medicine (General Medicine)