When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
"And with that, the future I had imagined, the one just about to be realized, the culmination of decades of striving, evaporated"
He's certain it's cancer. As an American neurosurgical resident in his last year of training at Stanford, Paul Kalanithi has the knowledge to know what he's looking at reviewing CT scan images. These show lungs matted with numerous tumours, except this time he isn't looking at images belonging to one of his patients, these results belong to him.
Prior to the scan, Paul had been experiencing back pain and weight loss, which led to an X-ray of the area. The X-ray showed nothing to be concerned about. He'd been working hard lately, earning the respect of his seniors, winning prestigious national awards, receiving job offers from major universities. He even described this time as having "reached the mountaintop" and chalked the symptoms up to hard work and growing older.
After graduating, Paul returns to Stanford for his residency where he decides to specialize in neurosurgery, because of his interest in the brain's relationship to a person's sense of identity. His schedule is gruelling, growing more so intense due to the fact that he's on call for emergencies.
|Credit: John Fidele|
In the second part of When Breath Becomes Air, Paul returns to the day he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and he believes that death is now imminent.