when-breath-becomes-air4 stars

This was another book club choice, and I really enjoyed it. The subject matter is not light and fluffy, but that’s ok, because it’s beautifully written. The author, Paul Kalanithi, was a 36 year old man finishing his last year of residency as a neurosurgeon when he discovers that he has stage IV lung cancer. Suddenly, his dreams of having a successful, meaningful career as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, husband and father are dashed. Paul makes the pivot from doctor to patient and chronicles his journey through his diagnosis, treatment and finally, his death.

Paul writes beautifully about all of the emotions that raced through his head when he was unexpectedly confronted with his own mortality. What do you do when you only have a year or less to live? What is important? How do you spend your time? What makes your life still worth living? What do you make a priority? And more importantly, what are you well enough to do? There is no one right answer – the answer to each question is highly individualized.

Paul writes in the book,
“I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything.
Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head:
‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’”

I highly recommend you read this small, but important book.