On a Sunday afternoon in late June, I was picking up a rental car at the Minneapolis airport. An electronic sign over the car blinked my name, so it was easy to find. Under the windshield wiper lay a handwritten message, filling both sides of a legal-sized page. Curious, I started reading.

The note was from a woman who had seen my name displayed on the sign and took a chance that I was the same Dr. Cortese who treated her father years ago at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He had early-stage lung cancer, and I was on a team developing experimental treatments using laser and light-activated, cancer-killing drugs. Her father had received three treatments, and she wanted to thank me for caring for him. That was ...

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