When Breath Become Air

When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the memoir of a neurosurgeon who dies of lung cancer just after finishing his training, but not before he gives us this remarkable book about death. It builds off his life-long passion for literature and interest in death and is unsentimental, honest, deeply moving and thought-provoking.

It had been on my shelf for a while, and it took me some courage to pick it up. As a stage III breast cancer survivor myself - Dr. Kalanithi had stage IV lung cancer at diagnosis, a much worse situation - I have peeked over the abyss that he traverses. Much of his struggle with the science and statistics of cancer and his role as a patient who knows too much felt very familiar and was beautifully and accurately described (I was a cancer researcher for most of my career). I felt a kinship with him, and sorrow for what he had to endure, and hope that when my time comes to die, of cancer or whatever, that I can muster but a fraction of the grace he did.

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