Friday, April 13, 2018

Book review - When Breath becomes air

Book review - When Breath becomes air

Paul Kalanithi, a Neurosurgical Chief Resident, was on the verge of completing his training as a Neurosurgeon, when he started losing weight and having ferocious back pain. 

He went to see his primary care doctor and wanted to get an MRI to confirm his diagnosis.  But the doctor suggest X-rays first as MRI for back pain is expensive.  

The X-rays looks fine and they chalked the symptoms up to hard work and an aging body.  A follow-up appointment was scheduled.

A few weeks later, Paul Kalanithi began having bouts of  severe chest pain and some nights, he woke up on soaked sheets, dripping sweat.  His weight began dropping again. Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

After medical school, Lucy, Paul Kalanithi newly married wife whom he got to know in the first year of medical school,  headed to California to begin their residences.

Paul Kalanithi and Lucy had always planned to have kids at the end of Paul residency.  They went to the sperm bank, to preserve gametes and options.  Cancer drugs would have an unknown effect on his sperm, to keep his chance of having children, they have to freeze sperm before he started treatment.

Paul was now no longer the man who loved hiking, camping, running, who expressed his love through gigantic hugs, who threw his giggling niece high in the air.

Five stages of grief :
Denial -> Anger -> Bargaining -> Depression Acceptance

First-line therapy (Tarceva), Second-line therapy (chemo)

Just before nine o'clock on Monday, March 9, 2015, Paul lids apart and eyes closed, he inhaled and released one last, deep, final breath.

Paul was survived by his large, loving family, including his wife, Lucy, and their daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.

Paul was buried in a willow casket at the edge of a field in the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a coastline studded with memories - brisk hikes, seafood feasts, birthday cocktails.


  1. What a good book to read and I would cry buckets to know the sad ending. he was so careful to freeze his "loot" before treatment.

    Hey your English suddenly so bombastic one! Happy weekend.

  2. Sad ending? I like! Got movie or not?

  3. Sad stories like this make me sad!

  4. I like happy ending books... and movies too!

  5. Good morning, great review.. I read this book and definitely could not control my tears!


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