Chasing Daylight | Eugene O’Kelly

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


In ‘Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life’, Eugene O’Kelly narrates his personal journey after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Over the course of his last 100 days, O’Kelly transforms his life into a more purposeful experience, diving deeply into the meaning of life and accepting the certainty of death. This book summary highlights the vital questions O’Kelly faced, his decision to quit his job, and his approach to simplify and live in the moment while unwinding relationships. Discover how Eugene O’Kelly created ‘perfect moments’ during his last days and how his story can inspire us all to contemplate our own mortality.

Approaching the Inevitable

Eugene O’Kelly’s story on finding purpose in his final days reveals the importance of reflecting on life and approaching death with a constructive mindset.

Eugene O’Kelly, CEO of KPMG U.S., was informed by his doctors in 2005 that he had inoperable brain cancer and only had a few months to live. While it was a challenging diagnosis to accept, O’Kelly saw an opportunity to reflect on his life and its meaning. He realized he had the gift of time to contemplate how he would make his remaining days more purposeful.

In his last months, he forced himself to acknowledge the gravity of his situation and decide on how he would spend his days. He likened his death to the end of a golf game, where players are reluctant to finish and chase the daylight, and took control of his final inches of life with his loved ones around him.

O’Kelly’s experience taught him that it’s important for all of us to think deeply about our lives and what we would want to do with our last days. The certainty of his impending death led him to ponder two vital questions: “Must the end of life be the worst part?” and “Can it be made a constructive experience – even the best part of life?”

Despite the challenges he encountered, he remained determined to approach the end with positivity, seeking his loved ones’ company and methodically going about his planning to make the most of his last days. Reflecting on his experience, O’Kelly concluded that his illness brought the blessing of mental lucidity and physical fitness, which allowed him to see the importance of taking control of one’s life and approaching death constructively.

His story serves as a reminder of the importance of contemplating life’s meaning and how we would like to spend our final days. By reflecting on these questions, we can strive to approach our inevitable end with a constructive mindset.

Managing Life in My Final Days

Randy O’Kelly, former chairman and CEO of KPMG, crafted a plan to make the most of his final days after being diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer. He took charge of his circumstances by quitting his job, determining his medical options and making the most of his remaining time. In his book, “Chasing Daylight,” O’Kelly shares how accepting death’s inevitability allowed him to think more deeply about his own life and make the most of the time he had left, focusing on spending it with his loved ones and setting achievable goals for himself. By managing his life systematically, he hoped to create a positive experience for those around him and make the best three months of his life.

A Journey of Acceptance

A former CEO’s struggles with seizures, vision loss, and a terminal illness taught him lessons about life beyond the boardroom.

As a former CEO of KPMG, Eugene O’Kelly was used to making plans and achieving goals. However, his life took an unexpected turn when he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The book explores his journey of acceptance through his struggles with seizures, vision loss, and medical treatment.

After leaving KPMG, O’Kelly began experiencing seizures, which started with facial spasms and eventually led to substantial vision loss. Despite his challenges, he remained mostly lucid but had to give up many of the goals he had set for himself. He soon realized that “the quicker [he] scrapped plans for a life that no longer existed, the better.”

O’Kelly tried chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but they only provided him with a few more weeks of life, and he found himself reevaluating what was truly important. As a CEO, he was used to evaluating people based on their competency, but his illness taught him that “things don’t go according to plan” in life. He had to learn acceptance and not waste his limited time on anger or frustration.

Overall, O’Kelly’s story highlights the importance of being present and accepting the present moment, even in the face of adversity. His journey teaches us that life can take unexpected turns, and it’s up to us to approach it with grace and acceptance.

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