Monday, February 9, 2009

Book Review

"Cancer on $5 a Day* (*Chemo not included") by Robert Schimmel with Alan Eisenstock Long Life Publishing $22 195 pages

Schimmel, a comedian, was about to really take off in 2000. He'd won Stand-Up Comic of the Year, his HBO special had been a smash and his Fox sitcom had been picked up. On the crest of this wave, he felt badly, went to a docor and it was discovered that he had stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Immediate chemo was the only avenue left for him.

I'll save you the suspense; in 2005, he was a five-year cancer survivor. Today he's back onstage killing with cancer jokes and experiences. He and his second wife have two young sons. He and his first wife (they married and divorced three times) had four children, one of whom died age 11 of brain cancer.

He writes engagingly of hospital personnel (he would have loved to have banged his chemo nurse,) of changes (he knew the hair on his head would fall out, but eyebrows, eyelashes, moustache and beard were a surprise but not nearly as much as losing his pubic hair.) All along he praises his team of doctors.

A Catholic priest drops in for a visit; Schimmel says that actually he's Jewish; chaplain is all "I'm sorry! I didn't know!" but Schimmel tells him, "This is not the time for me to play favorites... I do not want to get up there and have Jesus say, 'I'm gonna sit you down right now and show you how many times people asked you to accept me as your savior and you blew them off. Not so fast with the answers now, are you? You sit over there until the Rapture's done and then we'll get back to you.'"

He details amusing incidents with a wig salesman (pubic wigs available) medical marijuana, the crystal healer and the Reiko lady... and he advocates laughing as a means of healing. I agree wholeheartedly with that -- if you can find something TO laugh about.

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