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When Breath Becomes Air
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September 2020: Psychological > [pb]When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi, 4.5 stars

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NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5692 comments When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, a neuro surgeon who learned he had lung cancer while working as a surgical resident. He starts off rather confident and cocky, and is spending so much time at work that his wife, also a doctor, considers leaving him. The cancer diagnosis in some ways brings them closer together. He describes his childhood and his early dreams to be a writer. When he realizes he'll need to stop working, he takes comfort in the idea that writing will give him a sense of purpose and a new identity. The most poignant moments surround their decision to have a baby right away. It was painful for the doctor when he became a patient. It hurt his ego, but he also learned how to be a better doctor. He insisted on maintaining the right to make decisions on all aspects of his care, but he gradually had to let go of the reins and trust his doctor and wife (who are great role models for doctors reading this book). He died before finishing the book, and was not able to write about the last year or two of his life. The epilogue by his wife was incredibly beautiful. I think books like this should be mandatory reading in medical school. Families facing cancer might also find it very helpful.


message 2: by Joanne (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 8000 comments I have wanted to read this since I first became aware of it, quite a while ago. I pick it up from the library, and there it sits. Nice review, thanks for sharing. I am putting it back on my library list.


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