It’s a word everyone recognizes, but no know truly understands. Even when it ravishes through your own body, setting up impenetrable fortresses, and taking over each territory in an ugly game of Risk, it is near impossible to comprehend.
That’s because cancer is an enigma. For life, we need death. For the proper formation and function of our organs, cells need to die. Though cancer may be the cause of death for so many, cancer is enigmatically immortality. The agelessness of cancerous cells is what results in the shutdown of organ systems and ultimately death.
Death is as natural a process as life, and yet we grapple for understanding in its wake. Being the salient individuals we are, comprehending our own mortality is an impossible endeavor, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. No one in our time has put it in quite the same context as Dr. Paul Kalanithi in his posthumous memoir When Breath Becomes Air.
This article is not a review of his book, which was one of the few I’ve ever read front to back in a single sitting–it’s short, but also exceedingly captivating. This is, simply and meaninglessly, my appreciation for Kalanithi’s life and exploration of his own mortality, in his own words. Continue reading When air becomes breath