Skip to content

“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi

3.75 out of 4 stars.

A lovely poetic piece that perfectly maneuvers through hardship.

What can you accomplish in ten years? Paul Kalanithi used this time to complete his neurosurgeon training. A whole decade dedicated to overcoming this huge academic and professional feat. One would think this would be the time of life that he would be able to take a breath and release for the hard work should be over. Paul thought the same. He could finally get a full 8 hour night of sleep. Unfortunately, Paul has never had a lazy life. On the actual day of his graduation, Kalanithi’s stage IV lung cancer diagnosed only months before has left him paralyzed and unable to walk across the stage to receive his diploma. Instead he is rushed to the hospital. Surprisingly (or not) Paul could care less that all that work was for nothing and takes this severe turn in life as a sign he should follow his other passion which is writing. Paul Kalanithi uses those wheelchair bound days of excruciating pain to write down his message of life and death. How he had seen both it through the eyes of a doctor and as a patient. A FINE line that not many people experience since it is so normally divided.

There by his side is his equally intelligent wife, Lucy, that grounds Paul and makes him human during the years of medical robotics. She gives him love and emotion. She also brings him a baby girl nicknamed Cady. Although they only spend a few months together as father and daughter the legacy of bringing spawning a beautiful mind like Paul into this world also spreads the childlike curiosity and joy he had deep inside.

Lucy says it best in her epilogue, “what happened to Paul was tragic but he was a not a tragedy”. It is important to read about his life even if you know the end note so you can see what made his life worth living and the message he was trying to bring to others. There is a way to look at death not just as a conclusion but as a destination.

I hope this book becomes a classic and that Paul Kalanithi becomes a household name for his strength, bravery, and determination. This book can make one become human again. All that matters is your health. Please remember that and take care of yourself, mind, body, and spirit!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *