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.


‘Signs of Life: To the ends of the earth with a doctor’ will be published by Profile in August 2020 (on the Pursuit imprint).

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