Three on the Edge: The Stories of Ordinary American Families in Search of a Medical Miracle

John Kelly, Author Bantam Books $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-553-10113-3
This ""medical documentary"" by science journalist Kelly (The Secret Life of the Unborn Child) is a compelling triptych of stories that puts a human face on clinical drug and treatment trials. Without sentiment, Kelly charts ground lost and gained by three terminally ill patients--pioneers, really--who have staked their lives on experimental treatments. The author follows an AIDS-stricken international businessman, a 14-year-old girl with bone cancer and a young mother battling breast cancer whose mother and sister have succumbed to the disease. Having qualified for fiercely competitive clinical studies, these three discover that the real work has yet to begin. ""Edward"" is enrolled in the protease inhibitor trial for the ""AIDS cocktail,"" which has since proven successful in fighting the advance of the virus; ""Romy"" is taking MTP, a drug designed to prevent the cancer in her leg from spreading to her lungs; ""Julie"" is participating in an aggressive combination chemotherapy course. No happy endings are guaranteed here, but Kelly, an expert storyteller, aptly points up the smallest victories, both medical and personal. His clear prose makes the intricate scientific processes comprehensible--as when he likens chemical sequences in genes to directional signs on a highway. While these touching accounts belong to just three people, they nonetheless testify to the power of ""day-to-day hope,"" loving support and the indomitable survival instinct--human attributes that one need not be gravely ill to appreciate. Author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1999
Release date: 01/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
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