Book Reviews – Journeys with a Thousand Heroes

Journeys with a Thousand Heroes: A Child Oncologist’s Story, by John Graham-Pole

Many friends and colleagues have written very kind  testimonials about my book, some of which are shown here:

“John Graham-Pole’s thoughtful, moving and surprisingly open memoir traces the arc of his long career as a pediatric oncologist from its origins in the early loss of his mother to cancer, through his early medical training in Britain, his role in the dramatic evolution of cancer treatments in the U.S., especially stem cell treatments, to a more holistic idea of the practice of medicine that includes the use of the arts and end-of-life hospice care. Through stories of his thousand young heroes, Dr. Graham-Pole explores issues core to cancer treatment and the training of doctors, including what treatment risks are worth taking in a fast developing field, what is the nature of informed consent, especially with children—and how does a doctor come to grow as much in compassion as he does in knowledge.

“If you have any doubts about the fundamental synergy between science and compassion—and the wisdom that can be gained from respectful interaction with seriously ill youngsters, read this book. John Graham-Pole describes clearly his journey through life with feet planted in two continents, with love for both science and the arts, and with deep respect for both living and dying. And perhaps most importantly, he describes how much physicians and their young patients can learn about life from each other.”

Allen Neims, MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics; Dean, College of Medicine; Director, Center for Spirituality and Health University of Florida

Why would a man choose the heart-wrenching career of caring for children with cancer? How does a person grapple with the ethics of performing cutting-edge clinical trials on children whose parents may or may not understand the risks? How does a profoundly empathetic soul, who has seen too many die in his care, make sense of this experience and leave the world a much better place? Pediatric hematology/oncology pioneer and consummate thought leader and teacher John Graham-Pole developed brand new therapies that have become bedrock today. Simultaneously, he brought art, specifically poetry, to the bedside to honor young people who lost their life under his care. He was among the very first to bring artists into the hospital to work their healing with patients, families, and staff, co-creating one of the first, perhaps still the leading, Arts-in-Medicine programs globally. His boldness, integrity, creativity, and human empathy shine through throughout this memoir. It is a must read for anyone considering a career in medicine or any branch of health care.

William Slayton, MD, Stop Children’s Cancer Endowed Chair; Chief, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University of Florida

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