Author: Paul Kalanithi

Forward by Abraham Vergese

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9780812988406

Paul Kalanithi’s life was lived fully. It ended far too early. 

Thirty-six years of age, a husband and new first-time father, Paul Kalanithi was on the verge of completing his training as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer.  As his role as doctor morphed into the role of patient (which he described as “the sheep, lost and confused”), Kalanithi confronted his own mortality and struggled with the physical and metaphysical aspects of dying in ways that transformed his life. 

Weaving the discipline of science, his love of literature and spirituality, and decades of education and training which often found him at the bedside of the terminally ill, the author was fully aware of the bleak future he was facing: “Doctors, as it turns out, need hope, too.”

In this profoundly moving Memoir, readers come face to face with the inevitable challenge of their own mortality.  As the author poignantly shares his personal story of fear, suffering and clinical awareness of what lay ahead, his question: “What, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” becomes the question for each reader.

When he thought he couldn’t go on, Kalanithi found encouragement in the seven renowned words of Irish writer, poet and playwright Samuel Beckett”: “I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.”  And so “on” went the author, constantly reminding himself that “death may be a one-time event, but living with terminal illness is a process.”   

Sensitive readers might find this heartbreakingly candid book to be overly frank about lung cancer and particular medical processes.  But to look beyond the graphic and sometimes brutal details is to discover an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of death written by a brilliant writer.  

Always interested in death as a philosophical problem, it was not until his diagnosis that the author realized the purpose for his own life: “Life is not about avoiding suffering.  It’s about creating meaning” wrote his wife Dr. Lucy (Goddard) Kalanithi on his behalf. 

Because Paul didn’t survive long enough to finish the book, his wife completed it in equally as brilliant a piece of writing as her husband’s and the Forward by physician, teacher and author, Abraham Verghese. 

Paul Kalanithi’s life was a life of grace and readers will find in it, hope for the journey which none can escape - each must face.