Author: Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live.
Cancer: Lung cancer
written by: Cancer patient
In house review: This book brings two perspectives about cancer from one and the same person. That of a doctor, who diagnosed and surgically removed countless tumors, who counseled scores of cancer patients and their families, and who too often had to condole and console a spouse, a parent, or a sibling for the loss of their beloved. And that of a patient, diagnosed at the age of 36 with terminal lung cancer. The author, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, narrates first his journey as a successful neurosurgery resident at Stanford University, as a loving (and loved) husband and son, and as a man of good heart and great promise. All of it comes to an abrupt halt as lung cancer declares itself, changing everything, except for the spirit and resolve of the man at the center of the tragedy.
This is the story of a man who had to look cancer and death in the eye, yet did not falter in his determination to remain a good doctor and family man, who did his best to fight the disease, and who put his most intimate thoughts and feelings bare for the world to read in this book. It gives the reader insights into the world of cancer from both ends of the spectrum: doctors striving to do their best, sometimes struggling with inner doubts and conflicted emotions, and patients confronted with the complex meanders of a disease aptly referred to as the emperor of all maladies, confronted with their own (untimely) mortality, looking for answers, looking for hope, all the while still juggling a leftover life from another time.
As the author states, “only 0.0012% of 36-year-old (non-smokers) get lung cancer”. Yet, as this book acutely reminds us, 0.0012% is not 0. It means it happens. And it can happen to anybody. Anytime. With the increased pollution, stress, and ever-more-frequent passed on genetic and epigenetic mutations from the generations prior, cancer is only going to be more frequent, more aggressive. Just like Paul Kalanithi did, we, as a society, ought to look cancer in the eye, and fight it with all we’ve got.
A must read!
Reviewed by: I.M. Bennani-Baiti, President, the Cancer Epigenetics Society