Cassity High

Title: When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi

Student: Cassity High

Why this book? My dream of becoming a physician has influenced every major life decision that I’ve made since I was old enough to make them for myself. Sometimes, though–under the weight and pressure of all those decisions and all the hard work–it was difficulty to remember my purpose; it was hard to see the end of a tunnel that had been filled with schoolwork and stress. This book, however, helped me clear a path. Paul Kalanithi was a brilliant neurosurgeon who was on the cusp of completing his residency training when he died from an aggressive form of cancer. This book details his journey to medicine, his diagnosis, and, ultimately, his death. More significantly to me, however, it details his appreciation for his work, and the importance of what he did. It made me realize that even if I have to spend the rest of my life studying to become a doctor–studying to save lives–I would still choose medicine. As Dr. Kalanithi wrote, “The call to protect life–and not merely life but another’s identity; it is perhaps not too much to say another’s soul–was obvious in its sacredness.”

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