Reviewed by me for Reader’s Favorite.
We claim to be in charge of our lives until we are forced to go through an alien territory; however, these are the circumstances that push us to explore our strengths and weaknesses. This is what happened when Louis, the three-year-old child of Mark Unger, the author, and his wife, Mary Ellen, was diagnosed with Cancer. If such a small kid is bedridden even for a day, it breaks the hearts of their mom and dad; so nobody can even begin to anticipate the kind of shock and pain that Mary Ellen and Mark Unger endured when such a devastating diagnosis presented itself. First Survivor by Mark Unger is the documentation of various aspects of that phase of their lives. They were not from medical backgrounds and all the medical lingo seemed very difficult to them. How could they help their child if they would not be able to understand their own child’s treatment plan? The author came up with the solution of making regular notes. He wrote everything that the doctor’s prescribed, suggested, or said related to Louis’ condition. If there was any word that was foreign to his ears, he made it a point to look it up later. He would make a list of questions and research the best professionals and hospitals to cure Louis. These tasks created an illusion of him being in charge of this ordeal.
While he was doing this, his wife fixed herself to the side of his son, Louis. She told him stories, showered him with immense love, gave her undivided attention, and ensured that he got all his medication on time. Together — Mary Ellen and Mark Unger — made an excellent team to fight the battle of grave uncertainty. The sight of your child being poked by various devices is quite overwhelming, but they remained headstrong because giving up was not an option. Louis’ bravery during the intense, painful, and extremely intrusive procedures is both inspiring and heartwrenching. You want to see a child who is laughing merrily and is playing around, not being under an unimaginably painful series of medical procedures.
The gifts that many relatives, friends, and organizations sent for Louis provided a sense of support to the parents. Reading about this gave me a direction for the future. Earlier I used to wonder how can I support if anybody is going through a trepidation of this kind; now, thanks to the author, I know there are many ways to comfort a patient and their family. The regular updates that the author kept sending to his friends, family, and colleagues is also very valuable. I fell in love with the family pictures that he has included in the book.
Fist Survivor by Mark Unger is not an ordinary book. It is for the readers who are either struggling with Cancer or are caregivers to a kid in similar condition. The right audience of this book includes the people who wish to understand what it takes to fight a battle in which odds are very badly stacked against you. Despite the medical mumbo-jumbo, there is an emotional element present throughout the read that would keep the readers praying for Louis’ and his parents’ sufferings to end. My heart goes out for Mark Unger, Mary Ellen, Harry, and — of course — the brave Louis.