When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A memoir about neurosurgeon dying of cancer. His story and thoughts before death.

Polish: "Jeszcze jeden oddech"

When Breath Becomes Air cover

I didn't know much about the book before I started reading it other than it was a memoir and it was a bestseller.

As you can expect the book made me sad. Especially as his fight with cancer reminded me about my father. But reading this thought wasn't the bad kind of sadness. I like what his wife wrote at the end:

What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.

I've learned about the life of a surgeon and how it feels to be one. I wasn't aware of how life and medical practice looks like for them.
Part of that was also seeing the perspective of a professional when he tries to assess if a life is worth saving...

Then he got sick.

There was the denial that anyone of us can relate to. Reading about his struggle is not my idea of fun. It made me realize that even closeness of death won't set clear priorities for life. You won't know what to do exactly. It made me relate to him when he realized he can't have a job he wanted all those years. Cancer changed everything - even if it was in remission at that time.

Paul Kalanithi won't give you answers like "carpe diem" or how to pick what's important to you. Part of the beauty of the book is that there might be no answer or that it's nothing trivial like that.

Worth reading.

If you want to buy Polish translation

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