Dr. Lucy Kalanithi is the widow of Paul Kalanithi, and she recently spoke about her husband's death and what it taught her about healthcare and personal values – and how those two intersect.
Paul Kalanithi was a writer and neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and wrote the famous memoir When Breath Becomes Air before his death. Lucy Kalanithi speaks about her experience dealing with a loved one's imminent passing, and her realization that the healthcare people receive when facing such trying times must align with people's personal values – and that it is both the responsibility of the physician and the patient to discuss those open and honestly. She learned from her husband, and their experience dealing with his illness, that resilience does not mean bouncing back to where you were before, but deciding what success looks like in your own terms.
Kalanithi's powerful speech reiterates what her husband said to her when he first learned about his diagnosis – that it would be OK. What she later learned this meant was not that the outcome of his illness would necessarily be positive, but that accepting life means learning to accept both the joy and the sadness that it brings.