Thursday, January 7, 2016

Review: In ‘When Breath Becomes Air,’ Dr. Paul Kalanithi Confronts an Early Death - The New York Times

“I flipped through the CT scan images, the diagnosis obvious: the lungs were matted with innumerable tumors, the spine deformed, a full lobe of the liver obliterated. Cancer, widely disseminated. I was a neurological resident entering my final year of training. Over the last six years, I’d examined scores of such scans, on the off chance that some procedure might benefit the patient. But this scan was different: it was my own.

In a single moment of recognition, everything Dr. Kalanithi has imagined for himself and his wife evaporates, and a new future has to be imagined. Should they have a child, or would that make it harder for him to die? (They do. The book is dedicated to his daughter, Cady.) A job at Stanford for which he was the prime candidate? Not happening. Another good job that would require the Kalanithis to move to Wisconsin? Too far from his oncologist. Long-term plans of any kind? Well, what does long-term mean now? Does he have a day, a month, a year, six years, what? He’s heard the advice about living one day at a time, but what’s he supposed to do with that day when he doesn’t know how many others remain?

When Breath Becomes Air is gripping from the start. But it becomes even more so as Dr. Kalanithi tries to reinvent himself in various ways with no idea what will happen.


Review: In ‘When Breath Becomes Air,’ Dr. Paul Kalanithi Confronts an Early Death - The New York Times

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