First Survivor

First Survivor, an e-book published, copyright and written by Mark Unger.

The book is sub-titled “The Impossible Childhood Cancer Breakthrough”. The presentation follows with the author’s “true story of our unique journey. All proceeds from this book will go to the Carrot Seed Foundation where they will be used to fund neuroblastoma trials and support the children and families who are stricken by this disease..” There follows an account of this closely knit, loving family and how they reacted to learning that their 3-year old son had neuroblastoma. At the time of his acquisition this malignancy provided practically zero survival rate. The story then follows how they managed to cope with the tragedy – the need for constant care largely provided by assistance from the child’s mother both while in the cancer treatment centers and the periods at home. Simultaneous the attempts by the father to keep his only slightly older brother who was the stricken child’s constant companion from feeling unloved and ‘left out’, And all of this while attempting to maintain some business activity. At the same time these intelligent individuals were themselves delving into treatment plans available throughout much of the world, suggesting possible changes to the sympathetic, cooperative and receptive physicians who themselves were completely involved in attempting to move treatment for these unfortunate children toward a better prognosis. And perhaps most importantly is the part played by the child patient who at this early age was immensely corporative acting with a maturity far beyond his age through Cat-Scans, extremely painful bone biopsies, horrendous surgical procedures and repeated bouts of chemotherapy. Fortunately, the combined efforts of all of the principals finally delivered a live individual free of this devastating disease.

Discussion: The author has set forth an extremely detailed account of the day to day activity of the child, various doctors, his wife, the child’s emotionally close brother and his hours of researching neuroblastoma. It is a book that is a must read for any parents who have a child suffering from the same malignancy, as well as offering a template for family activity when even similar devastating disease strikes one of their small children. For those parents newly encountering this devastating condition the author has included 13 pages of glossary, 10 pages of Medical Background which are further explanations and 21 pages of a concise list of the child’s survival activity

Summary: . A truly remarkable depiction of growth of a protocol that has led to a remarkable survival rate for suffers of a malignant tumor once with an almost zero survival rate.

5* Remarkable child’s battle with a zero survival rate cancer.


A cold July in Cuba

A Cold July in Cuba ISBN: 9781599328560, Advantage Group, a biography/memoir copyright and written by Ray F. Ledon, M.D.

The author, a board certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology after serving as chief resident at UMDNJ is now a prominent member of that state’s medical community. His book, sub-titled “Recollections of My Father, the Revolutionary”, provides details of the trials and tribulations of his father, a physician renown for establishing the first Department of Anesthesiology in Cuba as he fought the corrupt administration of Batista, was apprehended, beaten, starved and threatened with death, saved miraculously to became Castro’s Minister of Health establishing services for the people throughout Cuba. Attempting to overlook the new regime’s anti-freedom activities that gradually but inexorably were ruining the lives of the very people they purportedly had attempted to save, he again became politically involved, participated in the poorly planned and executed Bay of Pigs invasion, and eventually escaped to Spain and then Canada. These are the memories of the young son who was old enough to establish a lasting bond with his father as he too was forced later to escape with his mother and younger sister and of the hard times he and they suffered devoid of a father until finally arriving at their present situations in life.

Discussion: This recounting of details of one family’s activities during the Cuban ‘revolutions’ must be accepted for what it is. Specifically, a number of readers will remember the endless accounts published at the time and subsequent books on the Cuban revolts. They were a prominent part of any American’s life for several years creating intense interest. Thus, if a reader is looking for anything ‘new’, it is not to be found here. In fact, it would be unnatural for a young child, to understand the extent of corruption and associated factors present in his world. The author makes it quite clear that he has no intent other than to describe his recollections and how he and his family were affected by these catastrophic changes and how they came about in large part because of his father’s participation as a Cuban revolutionary. Also evident is the sub-consciously haunting but unallowable memory of a young boy with a loving attachment to a father who sacrificed a beautiful family relationship because of an overpowering love of his country followed by bad choices. Such repressive reaction is understandable because of his similar love of country and his early established bond with the father that had no subsequent replacement. Yet, according to the substance of this book, parts of the father’s subsequent activity seemingly still are somewhat difficult to keep from occasionally ‘peeking out of’ that suppressive capsule.

Summary: If you are a reader who enjoys memoirs, and especially those with interesting psychological undertones, this book is for you.

5* For memoir genre devotees an interesting psychological aspect.