When Breath Becomes Air is both poignant and powerful. It is definitely one of those books, I will recommend to anyone. Cancer, is a scary word, affecting so many. Paul Kalanithi was a successful neurosurgeon, spending hours honing his craft, precision and attention to detail at the heart of what he did.
The memoir is his insight into his world that was and what it eventually became. The ability for cancer to remove everything he was once able to do, lengthy 6+ hour surgeries became less and less feasible. When Breath Becomes air, is moving, the decision for him and his wife to undergo IVF, so a part of him could live on. The scenes describing the birth of his child, are marred with sadness as you know Paul won’t live to see many of his daughter’s milestones.
Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.
Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.
Paul’s wife Lucy has done an equally brilliant Ted Talk.