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February 10, 1993

No Stranger to Tears: A Surgeon's Story

Author Affiliations

State University of New York Stony Brook

JAMA. 1993;269(6):803. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060103044

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No Stranger to Tears is the riveting, hard-to-put-down memoir of a pioneering surgeon. His education and career coincided with an epoch of numerous dramatic medical advances.

Commencing with his childhood and recounting experiences that perhaps influenced his pathway to medical study, William G. Cahan traces his career through retirement. His long interest in the performing arts began with childhood piano lessons, harmony construction, and choral training, but his interest and subsequent contacts in the theater were augmented by his first wife, the daughter of the eminent Gertrude Lawrence. A wide acquaintance among performers, conductors, producers, and art patrons did not hurt his career.

Cahan entered Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1935, before antibiotics, blood banks, cardiac surgery, and intensive care units, at a time when fluids were given subcutaneously, not intravenously. His accounts of medical student life should bring back fond memories for physicians and prove of