The Book

They say that being a good doctor boils down to just four things: shut up, listen, know something, care.

The same could be said for life on the road, too.

When Stephen Fabes left his job as a junior doctor and set out to cycle around the world, frontline medicine quickly faded from his mind. Of more pressing concern were the daily challenges of life as an unfit rider on an overloaded bike, helplessly in thrall to pastries.

But leaving medicine behind is not as easy as it seems.

As he roves continents, he finds people whose health has suffered through exile, stigma or circumstance, and others, whose lives have been saved through kindness and community. After encountering a frozen body of a monk in the Himalayas, he is drawn ever more to healthcare at the margins of the world, to crumbling sanitoriums and refugee camps, to city dumps and war-torn hospital wards. And as he learns the value of listening to lives – not just solving diagnostic puzzles – Stephen challenges us to see care for the sick as a duty born of our humanity, and our compassion.


‘A fever dream for armchair travellers, a dizzying, headlong, hilarious grand tour of six years on two wheels … I lost a couple of days to it and on emerging from its pages the world had become richer and more marvellous … Signs of Life deserves to become a classic of the genre’ – Gavin Francis

‘A hilarious and moving memoir of a cycling medic’s life on the road’ – Xand van Tulleken

‘A charming, human story of resilience, adversity and compassion, all told with a good dose of dry British humour’ – Lois Pryce

‘An inspirational journey of humanity and humility. Fabes has redefined the medical memoir’ – Nathan Filer


‘Signs of Life: To the ends of the earth with a doctor’ will be published by Profile on 6th August 2020 (on the Pursuit imprint). You can pre-order now on Amazon.

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