Karen E. Lasser

A Tale of One City

A physician-mother has two children, both of whom sought medical care at a storied medical institution in the environs of Boston, Massachusetts, in December of 2022, as the city was in the grip of the “tripledemic” of COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus, and influenza. Following is a summary of each case.

La Emergencia

A stereotypical pathologist, my father was a man of few words and fewer friends. He spent long days in solitude with his microscope, examining tissues and cells. In 1982, almost 20 years before his own diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer, he published a rare case in which breast cancer cells invaded individual chest muscle fibers. He later examined his own breast biopsy.

The Gift of a Botched Surgery

When I was fifteen, I attended a summer music camp with my cello. One evening, during a capture-the-flag game, the boy I was chasing fell. I tripped over him, breaking my tibia and bending my fibula. Two surgeries later at a small community hospital in Maine (external reductions to avoid scars), my shin was dented. To this day, my left leg is shorter than my right, and I walk on the outside of my left foot with a limp.

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