Summary of The Death of Patient Zero

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7 Overall

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As the title suggests, there’s no happy ending to this story. Award-winning journalist Tom Junod tells the story of a young, courageous war widow and mother who survived Hurricane Katrina only to get colon cancer. Stephanie Lee experienced plenty of false hope and unspeakable suffering along the way. The upside is that she befriended two journalists who arranged a chance at an experimental treatment. When her local health system was letting her down, she had her friends and medical experts in New York on whom she could call for help. The personalized treatment didn’t work, but today it could save a life. getAbstract recommends this intriguing article to anyone interested in the future of medicine.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Stephanie Lee became the subject of an experimental treatment,
  • How personalized medicine works and
  • Why it couldn’t save the woman.

About the Author

Tom Junod is an American journalist who has worked for Esquire magazine since 1997.



Esquire writer Tom Junod and his colleague Mark Warren first met Stephanie Lee when they interviewed her for a story about families who had endured both the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina. Lee was a courageous 28-year-old war widow with a new baby. Eight years later, she contacted Warren to say she had colon cancer. After several weeks, she asked him to pray for her because she only had 6 to 28 months to live. Warren told Junod, who coincidentally was due to meet with genome sequencing expert Eric Schadt. Junod and Warren discussed Lee’s case, and Schadt, based at New York’s Mount Sinai medical school, offered to help.

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