“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.”

-Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air


Episode 37: Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, is the widow of neurosurgeon and author Dr. Paul Kalanithi who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at age 36. Shortly after his diagnosis, Paul wrote the poignant memoir, When Death Becomes Air, about his transformation from doctor to patient. The book explores what makes life worth living in the face of death. It is a meditation on mortality and meaning that spent 12 weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list.

After Paul died in 2015, Lucy completed his memoir and wrote its powerful epilogue. As her husband’s caregiver during all phases of his illness and as a practicing physician, she has interests in the value of healthcare in relation to medicine, patient-centered care and end of life care. She is dedicated to helping others make personal choices that best align with their own values at end of life.

 Lucy has gained national media attention and has appeared on NPR, PBS Newshour,Yahoo News with Katie Couric, and Charlie Rose on CBS. She has also been featured in The New York Times and Elle magazine. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area with the couple’s daughter, Elizabeth Acadia (Cady).