What A Neurosurgeon Learned About Living After He Became Terminally Ill

By the time he was 36 years old, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi had also earned a master’s degree in English literature and won neuroscience’s highest research award. He was married to a successful internist and was considered a top prospect for a prestigious neuroscience professorship at Stanford University.  Then he found out he had stage IV lung cancer. “The diagnosis was immediate,” he wrote in his new memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, which was published posthumously this month (Kalanithi died in March 2015). “In my neurosurgical training, I had reviewed hundreds of scans for fellow doctors to see if surgery offered any hope. I’d scribble in the chart ‘Widely metastatic disease — no role for surgery,’ and move on.” The new book tracks Kalanithi’s thoughts during his last year and a…


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