This Book Made Me Cry

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To begin with — or, maybe, to end with –I got to know Paul only after his death. I came to know him most intimately when he’d ceased to be.”  Foreword by Abraham Verghese

When Breath Becomes Air is a powerful book that brought with it many tears and sadness. You can’t get to the end without reeling from the feeling of loss that comes with the passing of such a great talent; the loss of a brilliant surgeon, a son, a brother, husband and father. Paul Kalanithi’s book was published posthumously and details his journey as a resident neurosurgeon and how his life changes when he later becomes a cancer patient.

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Credit: Paul Kalanithi

“At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. – Book Synopsis

This short book had so many layers to it and just as many juxtapositions- life and death, patient and doctor, son and father, work and family, faith and reason. I admire Paul’s fortitude and positivity against all odds to accomplish what he could with the limited time that he had left. I highly recommend this book as it is one of the few books that I can share with certainty that it has had an impact on me. As I continue to contemplate my own morality and what I choose to do with the life that I am given, I can only hope to make as big of an impact as Paul has to multiple others.

Cristina Gottardi

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