Doctor – Writer – Wanderer
Stephen Fabes is a medical doctor with a bad case of wanderlust and no sense of direction. He finally found his way home in 2016 after cycling the length of six continents – a six-year adventure across 75 countries and 53,000 miles. Stephen uses human stories to explore the landscape of health and disease. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, the Telegraph, Geographical, CNN and the BBC among others. He’s a regular at live storytelling nights and currently works at The Royal London, specialising in Acute Medicine. Time off is for running trails. Signs of Life was shortlisted for both the Telegraph Cycling Book of the Year and The Boardman Tasker Prize. It’s his first 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.
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