August 15th, 2016
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Lucy Paul Kalanithi

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi and Dr. Paul Kalanithi with their daughter, Elizabeth Acadia. 

Photo Courtesy of Lucy Kalanithi


When friends find something special, they want to share it with others.

I recently found a book that is beyond special and today my friends, I would like to share it with you.

“When Breath Becomes Air” is a beautiful and touching book about giving yourself up to the unexpected joys of life but also fighting with every ounce of energy that you have within your being when you find your ability to experience those simple and spectacular moments in life is suddenly put in jeopardy.

This book is a true story of inspiration and bravery in the face of fighting cancer.

Dr. Paul Kalanithi chronicles his extraordinary life as a child, as a student at Stanford University and then as a medical student at Yale University.  It is when he is close to finishing his training as a neurosurgeon that he is tragically diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

He and his amazing wife, Lucy, who is an internist, are now forced to stop and examine their lives in a way they hadn’t planned.  They can not be like other young couples their age who spontaneously do things safe in the knowledge that time is on their sides and they can get to the more serious issues of life sometime later on.

Cancer forces them to decide what is truly important to them.  Cancer forces them to figure out what they purposefully want to do next that would help them feel that Paul’s life has been a meaningful one.

Unlike most us, Paul and Lucy are doctors and as doctors, they know way too much about what the future can bring with this dramatic diagnosis and what the future may look like as Paul becomes a patient and begins his treatments.

While this book is heartbreaking, I also found it to be inspirational.  Paul Kalanithi is a stunning writer and as tough as this story can be sometimes to read, this unusual couple put it all out there, holding nothing back.  He answers many of questions that we might ask if we could talk to him about his situation and both Lucy and Paul are also is honest about their fears and frustrations.

I don’t want to give too much away about this incredible story so I will stop here.  Let me just say that “When Breath Becomes Air” has stayed with me long after I finished reading it the first time and it is one of those books I return to many times to re-read the many turned down pages where the Kalanithi’s offer their straightforward insight about pain and resilience, love and the gift of life.

If you haven’t yet read this book, please add it to your list of must reads.

when breath becomes air


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