“What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?”. Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, answers this question in his memoir: “When Breath Becomes Air”.
Paul Klanithi was a passionate writer and physician who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer at the young age of 36. A once skilled neurosurgeon was faced with a new reality as a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis. As a result of his diagnoses, Paul knew that he had a limited amount of time left to fulfill all of his goals and aspirations - both in the medical field as well as in his personal life. He chose to practice as a neurosurgeon and later dedicate the remainder of his life to publishing his novel. Despite knowing that his time was limited, Kalanithi decided to grow his family. Thus, he and his wife welcomed a daughter into their family despite knowing he would not live to see her grow. Instead of focusing on this reality, Paul decided to spend this time searching for meaning and approach dying with the mindset that by accepting suffering, he will live fully.
In his memoir, Kalanithi expresses the importance of using every opportunity to make the most of the time you are given to live. Klanithi’s story demonstrates that every moment of life is worth living, even in the face of death. He knew that he would not have the opportunity to see his daughter grow up but decided to spend every precious moment he was able to with her.
Ultimately, it is up to us to decide how we approach each situation. We can either succumb to our hardships and look at life as only pain and suffering or choose to look at it through a positive lens. Kalanithi’s search for life’s meaning proves that we too can be resilient through our hardships and choose instead to have hope for the best.
Thank you for reading,