Tuesday, May 29, 2018

You Should Know … Benjamin Rubenstein

Washington Jewish Week made me its person "You Should Know." This was my third Jew-of-the-week-sorta thing within six months (you can read the one from November 2017 and the other from February 2018). I'm honored to be such a super Jew, even when I sometimes merely feel Jewish-ish-ish. Thanks to Washington Jewish Week and Hannah Monicken for making me famous-ish for a hot minute.

As published in Washington Jewish Week
Benjamin Rubenstein is a cancer-slaying superman. That’s what he calls himself in his book, “Twice: How I Became a Cancer-Slaying Super Man before I Turned 21.” The 34-year-old Arlington resident sat down for a beer at The Dubliner to talk about his illness, forgiveness and never drinking the same beer twice. Keep reading

Photo by Hannah Monicken
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Conversation With My Bone Marrow on Her 15th Birthday

Yesterday marked my fifteenth straight year without cancer. I think about that. I even conversed with my bone marrow about it. And of course I wrote about it.

As published on GatherDC

My 15-year-old “daughter” says that since I was born in the period when the sun passed through the constellation Capricornus, I’m—according to her favorite lifestyle magazine Elle—charming, graceful, and a freak in the sheets, lady in the streets. My daughter says this as we sit at our pollen-covered bistro set on the covered balcony of our ninth-floor apartment overlooking Crystal and Pentagon Cities. Clouds have rolled in and it has begun raining.

“I’m so glad I got that messy self-exploration out of the way!” I tell my daughter. “Now that I know myself fully, I can begin honing my sheets-and-streets skills.”

It’s cool being able to talk like this with my daughter. Though, that’s because I didn’t conceive her. She’s the stem cells collected from an anonymous baby girl’s umbilical cord. The cells were transplanted into me on April 24, 2003, to treat my second cancer called myelodysplasia. Those stem cells repopulated inside my bone marrow, and now my blood is her XX blood. My immune system is partially hers. I am partially her. Keep reading A Conversation With My Bone Marrow on Her 15th Birthday

Benjamin Rubenstein holding his umbilical cord stem cells in April 2003 before his bone marrow transplant


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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Words by ruBENstein Quarterly Newsletter - Spring 2018

I published the second edition of my quarterly email newsletter today. Check out my latest Words by ruBENstein or subscribe to it. Every three months I'll share: one or two of my recent stories plus an oldie but goodie; my most popular social media post; and one story and life lesson from one of writing's greats.

Words by ruBENstein quarterly newsletter

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Power of March Madness Compels Me

“Don’t talk trash about your University of Virginia men’s basketball team unless they win,” my once-removed first cousin said.

My once-removed first cousin is one of my elders and is often right. I’m usually wrong. Maybe, I’m always wrong. Regardless, this time I rejected his 69 years of wisdom. I said, “I can’t contain myself.” The power of March Madness compels me. THE POWER OF MARCH MADNESS COMPELS ME!

Singing University of Virginia Good Old Song
Watching Virginia clobber Connecticut in football at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville on Sept. 16, 2017, with three of my closest friends from our first-year hall in Humphreys dorm. Photo by Abbey Beckwith Miller.

In a four-person group text message thread, BBear wrote, “It would be great to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Tournament, but it’s not necessary, and losing wouldn’t bounce us from a 1 seed. In fact, if we win just the first game in the ACC Tournament, that all but guarantees us the top seed overall.”

In that same thread, Hamburgers wrote, “It’s crazy, we’ve come so far that I don’t even care about the ACC title that much. When you win the regular season by four games, the tournament is kind of meaningless.”

I wrote, “Fuck that, I want the ACC title, too. I want it all. Fuck the rest of them.”

And when we won the ACC Tournament, I wrote, “I FUCKING WANT IT ALL. THE WORLD IS OURS. WAHOOWA.”

After the announcement that Virginia’s redshirt freshman forward De’Andre Hunter, who won the ACC's Sixth Man of the Year honor, got injured and can’t play again this year, BBear wrote, “Why does God hate us?”

Hamburgers then wrote, “Sigh, it’s great to win the ACC title, but that’s somewhat meaningless given our hopes this year. It’s a shame to see him injured like that.”

T-Unit then wrote, “He was the reason for my optimism. Now, I’d be lying if I said I felt confident about this being the year.”

T-Unit added, “😡 😠 😧😩 😢 😭”

Hamburgers responded, “I am driving, and Siri is describing all these emojis to me. It is amazing.”

I wrote, “Damn, now I really want to hear a robot explain those emojis to me, too.”

But more importantly I wrote, “Let’s calm down. Maybe we are the college basketball version of the Patriots. Players get tendon ruptures and concussions and murder humans, and they just keep winning.”

I FUCKING WANT IT ALL. THE WORLD IS OURS. WAHOOWA.

I’m ready for it: during my lifetime, only one of the sports teams I follow (Washington Redskins) has won its league’s championship, and those wins occurred when I was 4 and 8.

I’m all-in: this Virginia team has among the best defenses in the history of college basketball. It has at least two fewer losses than every other Division I team in the country.

The Virginia basketball team represents the American dream: there is just one McDonald’s All-American on the team, whereas last season the University of North Carolina had six McDonald’s All-Americans on its roster, Kentucky had five, and Duke had seven. Virginia gives its full effort on every defensive possession whereas many players on other teams play defense just as a means to get on offense.

So yeah, the power of March Madness compels me to talk some trash now. Virginia is America! Virginia’s head coach Tony Bennett may be a saint! Maybe he should be the U.S. president! Nevermind, because that would mean he would leave Virginia! I’d actually give him money directly or sexual favors to stay at Virginia and not be president (or the head coach of any other team)! Scratch that sexual favors statement, he’s like married and shit and I like women! But no seriously, I’d try to keep him in Virginia BY ANY MEANS! In January, Virginia held North Carolina to 49 points for the whole game! In November, Virginia held Wisconsin to 37 points for the whole game! That’s fucking insane! Happy March Madness! Wahoowa! Wahoowa! WAHOOWA!

Appearances
Learn about the current and future pharmaceuticals marketplace from expert perspectives across the pharmaceuticals field at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School’s Drug Accessibility and Pricing Symposium on March 19. I’ll be sharing the patient perspective in the late afternoon panel, "Where Do We Go From Here?" Registration is free online.

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