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If I Get to Five: What Children Can Teach Us about Courage and Character

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"This book is a testament to the extraordinary depth, powers, and resiliency of children's spirits." --Marion Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund If I Get to Five is a one-of-a-kind book by a one-of-a-kind human being. The medical world knows him as Fred Epstein, M.D., the neurosurgeon who pioneered life-saving procedures for previously inoperable tumors in c "This book is a testament to the extraordinary depth, powers, and resiliency of children's spirits." --Marion Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund If I Get to Five is a one-of-a-kind book by a one-of-a-kind human being. The medical world knows him as Fred Epstein, M.D., the neurosurgeon who pioneered life-saving procedures for previously inoperable tumors in children. His patients and their families know him simply as Dr. Fred, the "miracle man" who has extended them both a healing hand and an open heart. Throughout his career Epstein's young patients have been his most important teachers and trusted guides. They are children who--often by sheer force of will--have refused to relinquish life and all its gifts. In this inspiring book, these children teach us the lessons we all need to learn in order to live life to the fullest--lessons about seizing the moment and facing our deepest fears, about embracing the joy and wonder of everyday life. Most of all, they teach lessons about uncommon courage--the courage to do what's hardest, to believe in what we don't understand, to love without boundaries. If I Get to Five takes us inside a world unlike any other, from the high-stakes, high-tech operating room where life and death are separated by a heartbeat to the sickrooms and recovery rooms where parents discover the limits and power of their faith. But most compelling of all is the journey inside the hearts, minds, and souls of the wisest children you will ever encounter. No one who reads this remarkable book will ever look at children--or adversity--in the same way.


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"This book is a testament to the extraordinary depth, powers, and resiliency of children's spirits." --Marion Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund If I Get to Five is a one-of-a-kind book by a one-of-a-kind human being. The medical world knows him as Fred Epstein, M.D., the neurosurgeon who pioneered life-saving procedures for previously inoperable tumors in c "This book is a testament to the extraordinary depth, powers, and resiliency of children's spirits." --Marion Wright Edelman, president, Children's Defense Fund If I Get to Five is a one-of-a-kind book by a one-of-a-kind human being. The medical world knows him as Fred Epstein, M.D., the neurosurgeon who pioneered life-saving procedures for previously inoperable tumors in children. His patients and their families know him simply as Dr. Fred, the "miracle man" who has extended them both a healing hand and an open heart. Throughout his career Epstein's young patients have been his most important teachers and trusted guides. They are children who--often by sheer force of will--have refused to relinquish life and all its gifts. In this inspiring book, these children teach us the lessons we all need to learn in order to live life to the fullest--lessons about seizing the moment and facing our deepest fears, about embracing the joy and wonder of everyday life. Most of all, they teach lessons about uncommon courage--the courage to do what's hardest, to believe in what we don't understand, to love without boundaries. If I Get to Five takes us inside a world unlike any other, from the high-stakes, high-tech operating room where life and death are separated by a heartbeat to the sickrooms and recovery rooms where parents discover the limits and power of their faith. But most compelling of all is the journey inside the hearts, minds, and souls of the wisest children you will ever encounter. No one who reads this remarkable book will ever look at children--or adversity--in the same way.

30 review for If I Get to Five: What Children Can Teach Us about Courage and Character

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Lee-Tammeus

    This book is a must read for everyone - a reminder to all about the resilience of the human spirit. I cried throughout this book - it is a true memoir of a brilliant pediatric spinal/brain tumor surgeon who discusses some of his most memorable cases - and by cases, I mean the children themselves - and how they shaped his practice and his life. This book is not about him, per se, but about those he helped, and in turn, helped him. I recommend this book to all -

  2. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Absolutely fantastic! This book was told with the perfect mix of medical knowledge and human emotion. I'm not a crier, but there were times when I felt close to tears. Above all, it reminds you of that innocence and special insight into the word that we all possess as children and inevitably see begin to drift away as the "real world" factors in our lives increase. Wonderful quick read! Absolutely fantastic! This book was told with the perfect mix of medical knowledge and human emotion. I'm not a crier, but there were times when I felt close to tears. Above all, it reminds you of that innocence and special insight into the word that we all possess as children and inevitably see begin to drift away as the "real world" factors in our lives increase. Wonderful quick read!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jay Rain

    Rating - 7.6 Hard topic & a tribute to a child's resilience to pain but loses emotional impact as the reader builds a defense mechanism against the same non-visualized message for 190 pages - disassociative theory A life-changing quote for parents on P137 - It's easy for us to become so pre-occupied with what our children aren't that we lose sight of what they are, what makes them unique & irreplaceable Rating - 7.6 Hard topic & a tribute to a child's resilience to pain but loses emotional impact as the reader builds a defense mechanism against the same non-visualized message for 190 pages - disassociative theory A life-changing quote for parents on P137 - It's easy for us to become so pre-occupied with what our children aren't that we lose sight of what they are, what makes them unique & irreplaceable

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shellie

    I picked this up on my way out of the library because I thought it would be about the funny things children do, but its about the courageous things they do to survive when they have cancer.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Feingold

    Epstein kind of has a god complex, but he is one of the best pediatric neurosurgeons on the face of the planet so,,, he.. deserves it? idk, it was p good & like,,, emotional (might not recommend if u have a lil sister who died from cancer bc the feels r like a shitstorm)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    617.48092 E646 2003

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Paul Roboski

    Very thought-provoking, hard to put down and an easy read. Incredible perspective on suffering and inexplicable pain.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kali Lananger

    The Beautifully written joys of what children can teach us on life and love. Absolutely worth the read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Excellent. Personal and informative account of terminal illness.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dan Gorman

    Epstein was a good man and an incredibly inventive neurosurgeon. His reflections on his career, while occasionally seeming a bit unoriginal or cliched, are very honest, and he brings an interesting perspective on the psychological and spiritual dimensions of pediatric medical treatment. Most interesting of all are Dr. Epstein's reflections on religion. Epstein is a somewhat deist Jew, believing that God does not cause evil, but that God doesn't intervene to cause good, either. We're on our own. Epstein was a good man and an incredibly inventive neurosurgeon. His reflections on his career, while occasionally seeming a bit unoriginal or cliched, are very honest, and he brings an interesting perspective on the psychological and spiritual dimensions of pediatric medical treatment. Most interesting of all are Dr. Epstein's reflections on religion. Epstein is a somewhat deist Jew, believing that God does not cause evil, but that God doesn't intervene to cause good, either. We're on our own. At the same time, though, Epstein views people as having God-given talents (even though God won't pull the strings on how those skills are used). Epstein also views it as essential that patients have faith in something, not necessarily religion, but perhaps a dream, a goal, a story - and he praises the community-building aspects of religion, as they help us process the here-and-now. As such, Dr. Epstein creates a sort of agnostic approach to religion as a tool within the doctor's toolbox. And yet Epstein also remains open to the possibility of miracles, not as intervention by God, but rather as quirks of the universe and chance. Perhaps his back and forth between miracles and agnosticism/deism is a bit self-contradictory, but then again, people often hold self-contradictory views. Overall - a fast read with some interesting ideas and some emotionally gripping medical case studies. It's a shame Dr. Epstein died in 2006; I suspect he'd still be consulting on medical cases to this very day, were he still here.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Dr. Fred Epstein is, according to his book, unarguably a good doctor and a good man. I appreciate the work he does and his perspectives on its goals, purpose, and meaning. I thought the personal anecdotes in this work were valuable and meaningful, but in the efforts to connect them the author(s) used such broad strokes and sweeping statements that sometimes I felt like they were presenting "children with terminal illnesses" as an idea or a concept, rather than as individual people. This is just Dr. Fred Epstein is, according to his book, unarguably a good doctor and a good man. I appreciate the work he does and his perspectives on its goals, purpose, and meaning. I thought the personal anecdotes in this work were valuable and meaningful, but in the efforts to connect them the author(s) used such broad strokes and sweeping statements that sometimes I felt like they were presenting "children with terminal illnesses" as an idea or a concept, rather than as individual people. This is just a personal pet peeve of mine, so I might be hypersensitive when it comes to seeing this in this particular book. I did enjoy it overall and think it's worth reading, especially if you're considering a career in pediatrics or oncology.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sushma

    Though written by a doctor himself, this book is not again one of those medical books which seem believable to the medical people, and fascinating to others. Beautifully written, without delving too deep into the details of any case, this book speaks of how children are so much more mature and accepting than adults. In a read, it reverses your negative thinking, if you have any. A must read, in that.

  13. 5 out of 5

    gosobooks.com

    It's a compilation of stories of kid patients of Fred Epstein and their hope for the future and some of them what they made out of their lives later on. Ever thought of the dream of a child hoping to do those little things of life like riding a bicycle? Then this is where you'll see hope mixed with emotion. It's a compilation of stories of kid patients of Fred Epstein and their hope for the future and some of them what they made out of their lives later on. Ever thought of the dream of a child hoping to do those little things of life like riding a bicycle? Then this is where you'll see hope mixed with emotion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Renie

    It was obvious by the title, that this book was about ill children who might not make it to experience being 5 years old. I figured I would cry while reading, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see my tears were tears of joy. I liked this thoughtful, well written book by a renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. It is poignant and profound, sad and sweet.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Wonderful book on spirituality, even though it is not promoted as such. I also found the author fascinating because he was a consult for my cousin three weeks before his life-changing accident. Dr. Fred is one of a kind. I teared up at several times, and was deeply moved. Inspirational.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eleni Taylor

    Anyone who has ever been a child (ha) should read this book. One forgets how clear things were at a young age. Life unfortunately clouds too much. Beautiful perspective an insight by the physician who had the heart and understanding to write it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    This is an interesting book written by a pediatric neurosurgeon. It talks about all that he overcame to become a physician, as well as many life lessons that he learned from his gravely ill young patients.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kari Gang

    A poignant book from a renowned neurologist about lessons learned from the children he treated over the years. One of whom recited his wishes if his brain tumor removal was successful and "If I get to five...". A poignant book from a renowned neurologist about lessons learned from the children he treated over the years. One of whom recited his wishes if his brain tumor removal was successful and "If I get to five...".

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    A doctor's recounting of his experience treating children with terminal conditions and the lessons he drew from that. Sad, uplifting, a bit predictable at times, and a worthwhile read if only to make you more aware of how fragile and fleeting health and life is. A doctor's recounting of his experience treating children with terminal conditions and the lessons he drew from that. Sad, uplifting, a bit predictable at times, and a worthwhile read if only to make you more aware of how fragile and fleeting health and life is.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Great book, really quick read. It really puts your problems in perspective and makes you want to make a difference. Just a warning, it made me cry multiple times. Some of the stories are very heart warming.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    As a pediatric nurse, this had special meaning for me. It was sad and informative. And inspiring.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    The most enlightening book that I have read in a long time. Truly makes you think about the declination of optimism through age and experience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristie

    Very sad and uplifting at the same time...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    An excellent book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    Children teach us the most if we just take the time to listen...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Noreen Panek

    Uplifting and motivating! Excellent book,well written, straightforward,a page turner. Everyone in the medical field should read this amazing book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Sánchez

    I read this in 2011

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Another wonderful and uplifting book made all the more poignant by Dr. Epstein's death a couple of years later. A true loss for the World... Another wonderful and uplifting book made all the more poignant by Dr. Epstein's death a couple of years later. A true loss for the World...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I found this book to be informative, moving and inspirational. I chose this for book group.

  30. 4 out of 5

    M.

    Lots of very inspiring stories of children who had brain and spinal tumors written by the surgeon who took them on as patients.

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