Cancer Culture and Community event features Discovery Lecture, panel discussion at YWCA

November 2, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Award-winning author Dr. Barron H. Lerner will headline the Purdue University Cancer Culture and Community Colloquium on Empathy & Ethics next week with a keynote lecture and a community panel discussion.

Lerner, a practicing physician and professor of medicine and population health at New York University of Medicine, will give his free talk, titled "Two Doctors, Two Generations: Medical Ethics Then and Now," at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 12, in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall.

Earlier in the day, Lerner will join a panel discussion, "Talking Straight and Curvy: Navigating the Doctor-Patient Relationship in Cancer Care," from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lafayette YWCA, 605 N. Sixth St., Lafayette.

Joining Lerner as panelists are Dr. Thomas Summer, a general surgeon in Lafayette; Dr. Vijaya Kakani, a hematologist/oncologist in Lafayette; and Adriana Cornejo, YWCA Lafayette patient navigator. Ginny Mason, executive director of the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation, will moderate the discussion.

Cost for the YWCA event is $15, which includes lunch. Registration is required by Nov. 6 at

"A good doctor-patient relationship is essential to high-quality health care. But in today's digital age, when medical information is available in the palms of our hands, how many choices and how much detail should physicians give their patients? And who may or may not have the expertise to make highly informed decisions?" said Marietta Harrison, director of the Oncological Sciences Center, the Discovery Park research center that leads CCC. "These questions will come into focus in this conversation between Dr. Lerner and an impressive lineup of Lafayette-area physicians and cancer-care providers and advocates."

Lerner's latest book, "The Good Doctor: A Father, a Son, and the Evolution of Medical Ethics," was published in 2014 and will be the focus of his presentation. The book tells the story of two doctors, a father and a son, who practice medicine at different times and focuses on the differences in practices and ethics.

His previous book, "The Breast Cancer Wars: Hope, Fear and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America," received the William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine. It was named one of the 26 most notable books of 2001 by the American Association for the History of Medicine and the American Library Association.

Opening for Lerner is Los Angeles writer, illustrator and designer Emily McDowell, whose work reflects a shared human experience in all its different forms. Her Empathy Card line prompted a local response to the idea of expressing empathy in a more authentic way.

Freelance writer Melissa Fraterrigo led an Oct. 3 workshop in Lafayette, where participants came up with sentiments to be used in their own personalized empathy cards. Local graphic designer Chloe Brizendine and a group of volunteer graphic designers then created the cards based on these words.

The cards will be shown at the panel discussion and sold through the YWCA, with proceeds benefiting the YWCA Cancer Program.

The original work will be on display through Nov. 14 in the Purdue Fountain Gallery, 330 Main St., Lafayette. The display also includes an exhibition of music "impressions" of McDowell's empathy cards composed by students from Purdue Theatre's 363 Introduction to Sound Design class.

The annual Cancer Culture and Community event is organized by the Oncological Sciences Center in partnership with the Purdue College of Liberal Arts and the Department of English.

This year's other sponsors are the Office of Public Affairs, Purdue Center for Cancer Research, Office of the Provost, Discovery Lecture Series, MatchBOX, Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts, Purdue Libraries, Purdue Galleries, YWCA, West Lafayette Public Library, graphic designer Chloe Brizendine, and Melissa Fraterrigo, owner of the Lafayette Writers' Studio.

The annual Cancer Culture and Community initiative was launched by the Oncological Sciences Center and the College of Liberal Arts in 2007 to explore how the arts and literature provide an outlet of expression to people struggling with cancer. 

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Sources: Marietta Harrison, 765-494-1442,

Kris Swank, Oncological Sciences Center operations manager, 765-494-4674,  

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