When Breath Becomes Air is a non-fiction autobiographical book written by American neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi. It is a memoir about his life and illness, battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer. It was posthumously published by Random House on January 12, 2016.
In his last year of neurosurgical residency at Stanford University, Kalanithi experiences negative changes in his health. Rapid weight loss, and severe back and chest pains begin to raise concern for him and his wife, Lucy Kalanithi. Kalanithi worries that cancer might have caused his symptoms and his decline of health – unlikely for people in their thirties. However, when X-ray results in a routine medical check-up return normal, his primary care physician and he attribute the symptoms to aging and work overload.
Determined to finish the last months of his residency, he ignores whatever symptoms have not subsided. A few weeks later, the symptoms come back, stronger than before. Around this time, Kalanithi and his wife experience conflict in their relationship when Lucy feels that he is not communicating with her. Visiting friends in New York, Kalanithi is almost certain that he has cancer and says it out loud for the first time to his friend Mike. Returning home, upon landing in San Francisco, Kalanithi receives a call from his doctor telling him that his lungs “look blurry.” When he arrives home with Lucy, both of them know what is happening. The next day, Kalanithi checks in to the hospital, and the room where he examined his patients, delivering good and bad news, becomes his own.
Today we will talk about this book with some metaphorical terms of our own life. Welcome to the second episode of THE MASTER’S PODCAST by SIAM MEHRAF.