Friday, February 5, 2016

When Breath Becomes Air; Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air; Paul Kalanithi
Random House Audio - 2016

Cancer took the life of neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi, in March of 2015 at the age of 37, this is his story.  

The story begins with Paul, who is in his last year of residency at Stanford in 2013, and his wife Lucy, also a physician, reviewing his CT scans.  He's confident looking at the films that he knows the diagnosis - Stage IV, metastatic lung cancer.  

His death sentence diagnosis forced him to make some tough decisions and lay out some plans for the time he might have left. Paul always had a love for literature and hoped to someday write. His undergraduate degree was in Literature and Biology.  Paul began this book during his illness and his wife fulfilled his wish to see it published after he passed away.  Paul writes of his youth as a child of Indian immigrant parents, how he met his wife, his medical training and his interactions with patients who too were dealing with their own mortality.  As his own life was slipping away, he and wife Lucy decided to have a child and although very ill, he did get to see his newborn daughter and spend the greater part of a year with her.

Paul's writing feels genuine and insightful, and his interactions with patients felt compassionate.  I found the epilogue and acknowledgements by his wife Lucy to be moving and heartfelt as well.  This is an important story that demonstrates, "how we live" and, "what we do with our life" is of greater importance than "how long we live."

The audio books is read by, Sunil MalhotraCassandra CampbellAbraham Vergeshese who did an excellent job.

4.5/5 stars
(audio sent by publisher)

24 comments:

  1. I just finished this. Words can't really express how profound this one was for me. As doctor, patient and scientist, he saw cancer from every perspective. This one is a must read. His perseverance in the midst of everything is inspiring. Great post! My review will be posted later today :)

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  2. So happy to read you enjoyed it as well; I'll look for your post.

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  3. Wow, this sounds so sad to me. My mother-in-law died of lung cancer but she and my father-in-law were never able to acknowledge that she was dying.

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  4. Sounds like while it may be very emotional, it is also positive and hopeful.

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  5. I'm planning on reading this one before long. My sister died of lung cancer in 2014 and like my reading of the Alzheimer's-type books after my parents died, I'm not quite ready to read this, but soon....

    I do hope that many will read books such as this and also Being Mortal. It's important, I think.

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    1. I loved Being Mortal as well Kay, and, yes, this is probably one that needs to be read when YOU feel the time is right.

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  6. I recently read about this book and felt very teary just reading about the author's story. There was a photo of the author with his kid and of course, as a new mom, that made me super emotional I so want to read this but I wonder if I am looking for more reasons to cry.

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    1. I'm not a person who cries easily and this did not bring me to tears either but, it is sad because he had so much potential and so much to live for.

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  7. Another title added to my list. It sounds emotional but good.

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    1. I think you will enjoy this Mary - well done memoir and yes a tad sad.

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  8. I keep hearing about this book in the same sentence as Being Mortal. Which I still need to read...

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    1. I read Being Mortal as well, and loved it. Being Mortal was not sad in the same way this memoir was.

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  9. I'm going the audio route for this one, too. Sounds excellent!

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    1. You'll appreciate it JoAnn. I know you liked Being Mortal.

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  10. I've heard so many good things about this book, in spite of the sadness.

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  11. Have seen this one being mentioned quite a bit and it does sound like a powerful memoir.

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  12. Quite a decision for them to have a child then; how courageous & I'm sure heartfelt

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  13. I'll bet the audio is very good. I read the print edition and thought it was very good, but not quite as good as Being Mortal. When Breath Becomes Air is a sad story, but not so sad that I was moved to tears, although his wife's epilogue was very articulate and touching.

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  14. Oh man, I do not think I could handle this right now, despite the uplifting points. How sad!

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  15. I think it's always good to think about death and the way to live before we die.

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