If I Get to Five: What Children Can Teach Us About Courage and Character [NOOK Book]


A world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon shares the lessons of courage, compassion, and resilience that he's learned from his exceptional young patients

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

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A world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon shares the lessons of courage, compassion, and resilience that he's learned from his exceptional young patients

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.

"I simply can't accept the idea of kids dying," is how Epstein explains his commitment to saving patients. As a child, he had to overcome severe learning disabilities to realize his dream of becoming a doctor. Later, as the world's leading pediatric neurosurgeon, he did whatever it took to rescue children that other doctors had given up on.

Epstein credits his young patients as his most important teachers. "We tend to think of children as fragile, little people," he writes. "To me, they're giants." If I Get to Five relates the unforgettable experiences he's shared with children-lessons in courage, compassion, love, and hope-that we can all draw on to overcome adversity at any stage of life. In If I Get to Five, Epstein meditates on these lessons at a time when they parallel his own experiences, as he recovers from a near-fatal head injury.

If I Get to Five is a riveting profile of courage and compassion. No one who reads this remarkable book will ever look at children-or adversity-in the same way.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466855274
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 614,130
  • File size: 266 KB

Meet the Author

Fred Epstein, M.D., is the founding director of the Institute for
Neurology and Neurosurgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. He has served as president of the International
Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery and president of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgery. Epstein lives with his wife and children in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Joshua Horwitz is the president of Living Planet Books, a book packaging firm that specializes in health, psychology, and spirituality titles. He is the co-author of Wrestling with Angels and lives in Washington, D.C.
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Read an Excerpt

From If I Get to Five:
Surgeons have a tendency to compartmentalize their professional and emotional lives. We’re trained to believe that we can best serve our patients by remaining objective professionals. With so much fear and anxiety swirling around our patients and their families, it’s easy to imagine that responding to all their emotional needs would be overwhelming, and might even erode one’s professional judgment.

But my colleagues and I have reached a paradoxical conclusion: the closer we’ve gotten to our patients and their families, the more strength and inspiration we’ve been able to draw from them. And by keeping our hearts, as well as our minds, open to our young patients, we’ve learned professional and personal lessons that eluded us earlier in our careers.

I used to think that courage meant taking on the toughest cases, being the guy who dared to make the life-and-death judgment calls in the operating room. I now know that holding a child’s hand while he undergoes chemotherapy can be a lot scarier than holding his life in my hands during an operation.
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2003

    From a Parent

    As a parent who's son was just recovering from surgery to remove a tumor in the incredible facility that Fred created and beginning radiation and chemotherapy, this book could not have come along at a better time. It is full of incredible stories that will make you laugh one page and cry the next. Even if you do not have a child undergoing this type of horrible disease, this book will show you the power of the human spirit and help you focus on what is important in the short time we spend here. It also introduces you to some truly remarkable people. This will be found in alot of stocking this year.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2003


    I don't usually submit my opinions but this book is so large, so vital, it should be mandatory reading for every human being - doctors, parents, kids, schools - everyone. It should be dispensed, along with vitamines, hot chicken soup and sunscreen to help teach, comfort, inspire and reward.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2003

    Tribute to Dr. Fred

    I was 1 of Dr. Fred's first patients at NYU back in the late 1960's early 1970's. The memories that stick out most in my mind the most are starting at the age of 8 years old when I had severe complications after craniofacial surgery. These complications resulted in significant brain swelling causing seizures and placing me in a coma for several days. During my recovery, Dr. Fred attended to my health needs. He always had a reassuring smile, spent time to not only reassure me, but also my parents. At the time, my parents were very young. He treated them with respect, kindness, and understanding. To this day, my family still reminisces over the many memories they have of Dr. Fred sitting up with me and my parents all night while I was recovering in ICU. He left my parents with his private home number several times and always treated them with respect, understanding, and reassurance. He is truly remarkable in the care and compassion he gave to me, my family, and all his patients! So many people care about Dr. Fred and wish him only the best as he continues to undertake the steps necessary in his recovery. Thank you so much, Dr. Fred!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2003

    One of Dr E's patients....

    Dr Epstein is not only a man of his trade - but he is an angel in disguise. I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to controbute to Dr E's book... my story is told under the name Robin Taylor. I hope everyone who reads this book can begin to understand the power of being a child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2003

    Stories of Hope

    It is interesting that Dr. Fred Epstein - the subject of countless television and news stories who refer to him as a 'miracle man' - chooses to assume only a supporting role in this collection of stories about his young patients. Perhaps the reason Dr. Epstein has created so many miracles in the lives of others is that he so deeply respects the forces of life and hope within us all. He reminds us of the importance of faith - saying in one of my favorite passages 'I've found that when you're filled with anger and fear, it helps to be able to believe. It doesn't matter what you believe in - I've seen kids sustained through terrible ordeals by their belief in Tinkerbell - as long as you believe in something. Even if it's just a God to curse and berate. If you don't believe in anything, you're sunk.' For anyone who has experienced a test of faith, this book will resonate. With stories like Dr. Fred's, there is always reason to wish, to hope and to believe.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A moving memoir

    IF I GET TO FIVE: WHAT CHILDREN HAVE TAUGHT ME ABOUT COURAGE AND CHARACTER is more than just a biography focusing on the great accomplishments of Dr. Fred. This nonfiction is more of a vigorous lesson that when it seems all but over in the bottom of the ninth, still swing the bat of life. Dr. Fred provides anecdotals from his mentoring tutors, the many children whose lives touched his........................... The book also bolsters those with disabilities to achieve more than the expectations of those around them by conquering the Pygmalion Effect. Dr. Fred overcame his own childhood handicaps and a recent one as an adult due to an accident.................. In many ways his is an Art Linkletter bio, but the stakes are everything worthwhile. Well written and inspirational, Fred Epstein, M.D, and Joshua Horwitz provide realistic hope in the darkest moment by encouraging adults to heed the advice of their little ones who, even when death nears, show what life is all about...................... Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2003

    The Most Important of Life's Lessons

    Dr. Epstein cuts to the core of a small but intense world, one that is experienced by few but should be seen by all. The sudden and tragic turns that patients and families undergo bring out and magnify what we all cherish in children. These stories and dialog represent the values of one of the world¿s truly great men, allowing us to appreciate his thoughts and emotions like few would allow, and teach us how to live life and not simply live trough life. I simply can not recommend this book, which serves an example to some and a lesson to all, more highly to anyone, at any age.

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