Reflections on Terminal Illness from CBC Ramsey Fellow

by Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director on February 24, 2015

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UPDATE, March 11, 2015: We are deeply saddened to learn of Paul Kalanithi’s passing. He was a Paul Ramsey Institute Fellow who brought insight and practical experience to our group. He will be missed. Pray for his loved ones in their grief. Requiescat in pace.

Paul Kalanithi, a CBC Paul Ramsey Fellow, offers some poignant reflections on his terminal diagnosis of lung cancer in the spring issue of Stanford Medicine that we highly recommend:

Time for me is double-edged: Every day brings me further from the low of my last cancer relapse, but every day also brings me closer to the next cancer recurrence—and eventually, death. Perhaps later than I think, but certainly sooner than I desire.

Even as he discusses the painful realities of his diagnosis, he refuses to give in to despair and persists in his belief that live is worth living:

Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. Her pediatrician regularly records her growth on charts, tick marks of her progress over time. A brightening newness surrounds her. As she sits in my lap smiling, enthralled by my tuneless singing, an incandescence lights the room.

We applaud Paul’s brave witness, his own contributions to the field of medicine, and his commitment to human flourishing in all stages of life.

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