"Have you heard of the book When Breath Becomes Air?" my boyfriend recently asked.
I had indeed. We’ve written about the book’s author, the late neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, and his wife, Lucy Kalanithi, MD, an internist at Stanford, many times. Paul’s essay “Before I go” was published in our spring 2015 issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, and it became part of the book he'd later write, When Breath Becomes Air. Lucy wrote the book's epilogue.
I’d mentioned the essay, the Emmy-nominated video that accompanies it and the book to my boyfriend before, but it hadn’t really sunk in. In hindsight, I can see why: The story cannot be conveyed in a brief conversation. You have to experience it for yourself, and once it’s cracked your heart open and you’re fumbling around for tissues, you’ll get it.
If you're not yet familiar with the story, this newly released video of Lucy speaking at TEDMED 2016 (of which Stanford Medicine was a global medical institution partner) is a beautiful introduction to the tale.
Previously: “It will be okay”: Lucy Kalanithi speaks at TEDMED 2016, On the first day of Medicine X, talking disparities, adversity and hope, When Breath Becomes Air: A conversation with Lucy Kalanithi and Stanford neurosurgeon/cancer patient Paul Kalanithi: "I can't go on. I will go on"
Video courtesy of TEDMED