The Flashing Light: A Medical Mystery Memoir - Publish Your Purpose
The Flashing Light

The Flashing Light

In the fall of 1968, Dr. Irving Fox was twenty-four years old, happily married, and living the heady and intense life of a medical resident in a Montreal hospital. His future was bright and promising…that is, until a pulsating blue light appeared in front of his eyes. It was the beginning of a terrifying three-month ordeal of mysterious physical and psychiatric symptoms that baffled him and his doctors. Fox was hospitalized in two facilities, including a psychiatric hospital, and endured a battery of painful tests, medications with mind-numbing side effects, and the uncertainty of diagnosis and outcome. Sick, vulnerable, and helpless, he wondered if he’d ever be able to practice medicine again.

Fast forward fifty years. Compelled to understand the bizarre symptoms that had once threatened to derail his career and upend his family, Fox embarked on a quest to unearth decades-old medical records and uncover the full details of his illness, treatment, and recovery. In The Flashing Light: A Medical Mystery Memoir, he takes us on an intriguing journey to rediscover his past. Through the lens of his present medical expertise and experience, Fox examines the events that transpired and how they shaped his younger self.

Life is fragile, and no matter how strong and vital you feel at the moment, the tables can turn in an instant. Fox’s inspiring story reminds us that every day is a gift.

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Irving H. Fox

About Irving H. Fox

Irving and Gloria Fox have been married for more than 56 years and have 3 daughters and 3 sons-in-law and 7 grandchildren aged 8 to 20. Irving was born in Montreal Canada and attended McGill Medical School and graduated in 1967. His Postdoctoral training was at Duke University which was completed in 1972. His career was in academic medicine and industry. His academic medicine career extended from 1972 to 2008. He held full-time faculty positions at the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan and a part-time clinical appointment at Harvard Medical School starting in 1991. At Michigan, he was appointed to full professorships in internal medicine and biological chemistry and major administrative responsibilities including rheumatology division chief and director of the clinical research center. At HMS he was appointed Clinical Professor of Medicine, part-time, with appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital and then Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) for 17 years while working in Biotech and Pharma. He is currently trustee emeritus at BIDMC Board of trustees. His industry R&D work was at Biogen and then Millennium/Takeda. As VP at Biogen, he led the clinical team that achieved the original marketing authorization in the US and EU for Avonex, one of the first biologic treatments for multiple sclerosis. At Millennium/Takeda he was a leader of the clinical team in 2014 that achieved marketing authorization and patient access for Entyvio for the treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in the US and EU. His prior R&D work and product approvals have significantly improved thousands of lives. His mentoring in both academic medicine and industry has impacted the careers of numerous people who have worked with him.

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What People Are Saying

What People Are Saying

The Flashing Light: A Medical Mystery Memoir keeps you glued to the page trying to figure out what exactly was causing Irving Fox’s terrifying symptoms at the young age of 25. This medical “whodunit” brings you inside Irving’s inner turmoil and the medical mystery (with simplified explanations of medical jargon) as his doctors catapulted from one diagnosis to another.
Knowing Irving from my work in the Takeda Leadership Academy I could never have guessed that his past contained such a traumatic moment. It is lucky for all of us that he came through the experience and brought his wisdom to help others escape their own diagnostic nightmares.

—Deborah Ancona, Seley Distinguished Professor of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Founder of the MIT Leadership Center.

In The Flashing Light: A Medical Mystery Memoir, Irving Fox explores the mysterious neurological illness that fifty years earlier nearly derailed what would be a brilliant medical career. Building on his years as a teacher of medicine, Fox patiently and clearly explains the tests and treatments he underwent, providing a compelling first-person perspective on both the human and technical aspects of the patient experience. All was accomplished through painstaking reconstruction using his contemporaneous personal journal, hospital records, and interviews with those who witnessed this devastating period in his life. What emerges is an insightful look at what it means to suffer a severe illness for which specific treatments are not available. Most importantly, this book carries the lesson of the importance of hope in the face of even the greatest personal challenges.

—David Eidelman, Vice Principal and Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University

The Flashing Light: A Medical Mystery Memoir is a riveting, true-life story of the strange and mysterious illness that befell the author Irving Fox during his medical residency in the 1960s. Dr. Fox tells the story of his journey, now 50 years later, with insight from his medical training and his life experiences.

The onset of mysterious neurological and psychiatric symptoms early in his career and marriage had the potential to significantly upend his trajectory in life. Since that time, Irving has led a successful and distinguished career in academic medicine and in drug development, impacting thousands of patients’ lives through his work in developing drugs for neurologic and inflammatory conditions. I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Fox, who mentored me in my career. Reading this book gave me insights into the impact that this early experience had on shaping his life and his commitment to helping patients and developing young people in their careers.

—Nancy Simonian, MD, CEO of Syros Pharmaceuticals

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