When Breath Becomes Air is the best-selling memoir written by Stanford neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, MD, about his experience of living while dying of stage IV lung cancer. Much has been written about this exceptional book. For the first time on a public stage together, Paul's wife, Lucy Kalanithi, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine, and his treating oncologist Heather Wakelee, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Stanford Cancer Institute, discussed Paul's remarkable life and experience as a physician-turned-patient. Robert Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer of NCCN, moderated the discussion.
Dr. Wakelee explained that she had worked at the same hospital, but she didn't get to know Paul until he was her patient. “It is a different interaction when a colleague becomes a patient. He faced his cancer in a brave manner. In his book, he captures the concept that even though he was dying, he really lived life fully for the time he had his disease. This memoir can help us communicate with our patients about that concept,” she said.