Chasing Daylight | Eugene O’Kelly

Summary of: Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life
By: Eugene O’Kelly


In the heart-wrenching yet thought-provoking book ‘Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life’, former KPMG CEO Eugene O’Kelly recounts his final months after a terminal brain cancer diagnosis. This summary delves into the poignant journey of his self-discovery, purposeful activities, and prioritization of relationships. O’Kelly’s ability to redefine his perception of life and death, along with his determination to make the most of his remaining time, serves as an inspiration for readers to contemplate their own mortality and the true essence of living.

Living Purposefully

Eugene O’Kelly was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and was given only a few months to live. The diagnosis led him to think seriously about his life and how to spend the remaining months. He likened his impending death to the end of an excellent game of golf, where players chase the daylight until the game is over. He approached the end of his life positively, making it a constructive and purposeful experience. He emphasized the importance of reflecting on death and figuring out how to spend the remaining time in life. O’Kelly’s experience teaches us that we should all spend time thinking about our life’s meaning and what we want to do with our final days, insofar as it’s within our control.

Making the Most of Life

Randy Pausch’s book “The Last Lecture” taught the world that people can still be hopeful and fulfilled even in the face of death. Another inspiring book, “Chasing Daylight” by Eugene O’Kelly, offers a similar lesson. In “Chasing Daylight,” O’Kelly shares his experience after receiving a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. Rather than giving in to despair, he decided to make the most of his remaining days by embracing his loved ones and setting meaningful goals. O’Kelly decided to focus on three things: quitting his job, determining his medical course, and creating a plan to make the most of his remaining time. He also believed that people should confront death’s inevitability and determine what they want to do with their final days. O’Kelly’s approach to his diagnosis was admirable, as he remained honest about his situation and tried to improve his remaining days without engaging in self-delusion. In “Chasing Daylight,” O’Kelly inspires readers to live with purpose and to never take a moment of life for granted.

End of Achievable Goals

The story of Eugene O’Kelly, former CEO of KPMG, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that was slowly ruining his body. He faced the hard truth that he had limited time, and realized that he had no realistic plans for his future. This book captures Eugene O’Kelly’s last days, how he dealt with his diagnosis, and how he made his peace before passing on.

As the former CEO of KPMG, Eugene O’Kelly was used to efficiency and competency. However, after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, he had new lessons to learn about life. His first seizure came a mere two days after leaving the company. His face began to twitch uncontrollably, and he started experiencing substantial vision loss and blurriness.

Despite the substantial deterioration of his health, he tried chemotherapy for three days but felt it was too much of a burden on him and wouldn’t help. He then turned to radiation, hoping it would prolong his life, but the machine broke down, causing long waiting times. O’Kelly, who had been known for his temper, realized that he had no time to waste being angry and thus had to learn acceptance.

As he came to terms with the hard truth that he had limited time left, he faced the realization that even ordinary day-to-day tasks such as writing a check had become challenging. With his goals and future plans no longer achievable, he turned his attention to make peace with his diagnosis and his remaining time on Earth.

In this memoir, “Chasing Daylight,” Eugene O’Kelly’s poignant story of facing terminal illness draws important lessons of late-life wisdom. The book captures his final days and how he coped with the news of his diagnosis. The story is emotional yet thought-provoking and narrates how O’Kelly made his peace in his last days.

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