When Breath Becomes Air: A Powerful and Poignant Memoir by Paul Kalanithi (PDF + EPUB)
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: A Memoir of Life and Death
When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir by Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the peak of his career. The book chronicles his journey from being a doctor who treated the dying to being a patient who faced his own mortality. It also recounts his reflections on what makes a life worth living in the face of death. The book was published posthumously in 2016 and became a #1 New York Times bestseller. It received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.
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The book begins with a prologue that describes how Kalanithi discovered that he had stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36. He was in his final year of residency as a neurosurgeon at Stanford University, preparing for a prestigious academic career. He had always been fascinated by the human brain and its relation to identity, consciousness, and morality. He had also been interested in literature and philosophy, especially in exploring the questions of what makes a meaningful life and how to cope with death.
Kalanithi writes that he had always thought that death was something that happened to other people, not to him. He had witnessed many cases of patients with terminal illnesses, but he never imagined that he would become one of them. He had planned to have a long and fulfilling life with his wife Lucy, a fellow doctor, and to start a family with her. He had also hoped to write a book someday, drawing from his experiences as a neurosurgeon and his insights as a humanist.
However, all his dreams were shattered when he learned that he had only a few years left to live. He had to face the harsh reality of being both a doctor and a patient, of knowing too much and too little about his condition, of having to make difficult decisions about his treatment and his future. He had to confront his own fears, doubts, regrets, hopes, and faith. He had to find a way to live while dying.
The book is divided into two parts: "In Perfect Health I Begin" and "Cease Not till Death". The first part covers his life before his diagnosis, while the second part covers his life after his diagnosis. The book also includes a foreword by Abraham Verghese, a renowned physician and writer, and an epilogue by Lucy Kalanithi, who completed the book after her husband's death.
Summary of the book
Part I: In Perfect Health I Begin
In this part, Kalanithi recounts his childhood, education, and career as a neurosurgeon. He was born in New York to Indian immigrant parents who were devout Christians. He grew up in Arizona, where he developed a love for reading and writing. He excelled in school and went to Stanford University, where he majored in English literature and human biology. He also took courses in history, philosophy, and neuroscience.
He decided to pursue medicine after realizing that it was the best way to combine his interests in science, humanities, and ethics. He wanted to understand the nature of human existence and to help people who suffered from brain disorders. He applied to Yale School of Medicine, where he was accepted with a full scholarship. He also met Lucy, who became his girlfriend and later his wife.
At Yale, he was exposed to various fields of medicine, but he was most drawn to neurosurgery. He was fascinated by the complexity and mystery of the brain and the spine, and by the challenges and rewards of operating on them. He was also impressed by the courage and resilience of the patients and their families. He chose to specialize in neurosurgery and joined the residency program at Stanford.
As a resident, he worked long hours and faced many demanding and stressful situations. He had to deal with life-and-death decisions, ethical dilemmas, technical difficulties, emotional pressures, and physical exhaustion. He also had to balance his professional obligations with his personal relationships. He married Lucy and they moved into a small apartment near the hospital. They planned to have children after he finished his training.
He describes some of the most memorable cases he encountered as a resident, such as a young woman with a brain tumor who lost her ability to speak, a middle-aged man with a spinal cord injury who became paralyzed, a baby with a rare genetic disorder who needed multiple surgeries, and an elderly woman with dementia who had a seizure. He also shares some of the lessons he learned from his mentors, such as how to be compassionate, humble, confident, and honest as a doctor.
Part II: Cease Not till Death
In this part, Kalanithi narrates his life after his diagnosis of lung cancer. He describes how he underwent various tests and treatments, such as biopsies, scans, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and surgery. He also describes how he coped with the physical and psychological effects of his illness, such as pain, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety, anger, denial, acceptance, and hope.
He writes that he had to redefine his identity and his priorities after his diagnosis. He had to rethink his goals and expectations for his future. He had to decide whether to continue working as a neurosurgeon or to quit and focus on other things. He had to choose between living longer or living better. He had to consider whether to have children or not.
He decided to return to work as a neurosurgeon for a while, because he still loved his job and felt that it gave him a sense of purpose and fulfillment. He also decided to have a child with Lucy, because he wanted to experience parenthood and leave a part of himself behind. They named their daughter Elizabeth Acadia (Cady) Kalanithi.
He also decided to write his memoir as a way of expressing himself and sharing his story with others. He wanted to convey what it was like to face death as a doctor and as a patient. He wanted to explore the questions that haunted him since his childhood: What is the meaning of life? What is the value of human existence? What is the role of faith in suffering? How can one find joy in adversity?
He writes that he found some answers in literature, philosophy, religion, and science. He also found some answers in his relationships with his family, friends, colleagues, and patients. He writes that he learned to appreciate the beauty and fragility of life more than ever before. He writes that he learned to live in the present moment more than ever before.
He died on March 9th 2015 at the age of 37.
Analysis of the book
How the book explores the meaning of life and death
How the book reflects on the role of doctors and patients
Another theme of the book is the relationship between doctors and patients. Kalanithi writes that he experienced both sides of this relationship, and that he learned a lot from both perspectives. He writes that he gained a deeper understanding of the challenges and responsibilities of being a doctor, as well as the hopes and fears of being a patient.
As a doctor, he writes that he had to balance his scientific knowledge and his human empathy. He had to be objective and rational, but also compassionate and respectful. He had to be confident and decisive, but also humble and flexible. He had to be honest and realistic, but also hopeful and optimistic. He had to be professional and detached, but also personal and involved.
As a patient, he writes that he had to trust his doctors and their expertise. He had to be cooperative and compliant, but also assertive and informed. He had to be patient and resilient, but also proactive and adaptive. He had to be grateful and appreciative, but also critical and demanding. He had to be hopeful and optimistic, but also realistic and prepared.
He writes that he appreciated the doctors who treated him with respect and dignity, who listened to him and answered his questions, who explained to him the risks and benefits of his options, who involved him in the decision-making process, who supported him emotionally and spiritually, who cared for him as a person and not just as a case.
How the book challenges the conventional views on mortality and morality
A third theme of the book is the confrontation with mortality and morality. Kalanithi writes that he faced his own death with courage and grace, and that he challenged the conventional views on how to die well. He writes that he did not accept his fate passively or resignedly, but rather actively and creatively. He writes that he did not let his illness define him or limit him, but rather inspired him and motivated him.
He writes that he did not seek to prolong his life at any cost or by any means, but rather to enhance the quality of his life by pursuing his passions and fulfilling his dreams. He writes that he did not avoid talking about death or preparing for it, but rather embraced it as a natural and inevitable part of life. He writes that he did not lose his faith or his morals in the face of death, but rather strengthened them by reflecting on his values and beliefs.
He writes that he did not die alone or in vain, but rather surrounded by love and meaning. He writes that he left behind a legacy of wisdom and inspiration for his family, friends, colleagues, patients, readers, and humanity.
How the book inspires and moves its readers
A fourth theme of the book is the impact of the book on its readers. Kalanithi writes that he wrote his memoir not only for himself, but also for others. He writes that he wanted to share his story with people who might benefit from it or relate to it. He writes that he wanted to offer his insights and lessons to people who might learn from them or apply them. He writes that he wanted to give his voice and vision to people who might appreciate them or admire them.
The book has received widespread praise and recognition from critics, readers, celebrities, politicians, academics, doctors, patients, and others. The book has been described as powerful, profound, moving, inspiring, heartbreaking, beautiful, honest, courageous, wise, eloquent, poetic, unforgettable, masterpiece. The book has been recommended as a must-read for anyone who wants to understand life and death better.
The book has also inspired many people to take action or make changes in their lives. Some people have decided to pursue their dreams or passions more seriously. Some people have decided to appreciate their lives or loved ones more deeply. Some people have decided to donate money or time to support research or causes related to lung cancer or neurosurgery. Some people have decided to write their own memoirs or stories.
When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir by Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the peak of his career. The book chronicles his journey from being a doctor who treated the dying to being a patient who faced his own mortality. It also recounts his reflections on what makes a life worth living in the face of death.
The book explores the meaning of life and death, the role of doctors and patients, the challenge of mortality and morality, and the impact of the book on its readers. The book is a testament to Kalanithi's courage, grace, wisdom, and inspiration. The book is a gift to his family, friends, colleagues, patients, readers, and humanity.
The book is a masterpiece that deserves to be read by everyone who wants to understand life and death better.
Where can I find a free epub torrent of When Breath Becomes Air?
There are many websites that offer free epub torrents of When Breath Becomes Air, such as LimeTorrents, OceanofPDF, VK, E-book library, and Yumpu. However, these websites may not be legal or safe to use. They may violate the copyright of the author or the publisher. They may also contain viruses or malware that can harm your device or data. Therefore, it is recommended that you buy the book from a reputable source or borrow it from a library.
Is When Breath Becomes Air a true story?
Yes, When Breath Becomes Air is a true story. It is based on the real life and death of Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer at the peak of his career. The book is a memoir that he wrote before he died. The book also includes a foreword by Abraham Verghese, a renowned physician and writer, and an epilogue by Lucy Kalanithi, his wife who completed the book after his death.
Who wrote the foreword and the epilogue of When Breath Becomes Air?
The foreword of When Breath Becomes Air was written by Abraham Verghese, a renowned physician and writer who is also a professor of medicine at Stanford University. Verghese met Kalanithi when he was a resident at Stanford and became his mentor and friend. Verghese writes that he was impressed by Kalanithi's intelligence, talent, passion, and humanity. He also writes that he was honored to write the foreword for his memoir.
The epilogue of When Breath Becomes Air was written by Lucy Kalanithi, Kalanithi's wife who is also a doctor. Lucy met Kalanithi when they were both students at Yale School of Medicine and married him in 2006. Lucy writes that she helped Kalanithi write his memoir and completed it after his death. She also writes that she wanted to share his story with the world and honor his legacy.
What are some other books similar to When Breath Becomes Air?
Some other books similar to When Breath Becomes Air are:
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch: A memoir by a computer science professor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and gave a final lecture on his life lessons.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: A book by a surgeon and writer who explores how medicine can improve the quality of life and death for patients and their families.
The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs: A memoir by a poet and mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer and wrote about her experiences with humor and grace.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: A book by a journalist who visited his old professor who was dying from ALS and learned from him about life and death.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion: A memoir by a writer who lost her husband and daughter in a short span of time and wrote about her grief and recovery.
How can I support research on lung cancer or neurosurgery?
There are many ways you can support research on lung cancer or neurosurgery, such as:
Donating money or time to organizations or foundations that fund or conduct research on lung cancer or neurosurgery, such as the American Lung Association, the Lung Cancer Research Foundation, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, or the Brain Tumor Research Fund.
Raising awareness or advocacy for lung cancer or neurosurgery issues, such as prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, care, or policy, by joining campaigns, events, groups, or movements that promote them.
Participating in clinical trials or studies on lung cancer or neurosurgery as a patient or a volunteer, by finding out if you are eligible and signing up for them.
Sharing your story or experience with lung cancer or neurosurgery as a patient, survivor, caregiver, family member, friend, or professional, by writing blogs, books, articles, podcasts, videos, or social media posts that inform, inspire, or support others.