Read these first:
T Minus Four Days
T Minus Two Days
It’s an arbitrary date, a point on the concave function that always approaches cancer deliverance but never quite reaches it.
For the risk of recurrence, two years cancer-free is better than one year. Five years is better than two. And ten years is better than five. But the risk of recurrence gets exponentially smaller to the point where some doctors—people who are trained to be cautious with words—say we’re cured at five years. Many doctors and patients themselves are reluctant to use that word, including me. I’m not superstitious, but maybe the Cancer fairy is.
Five years ago those pure, clean stem cells with no sign of leukemia, no sign of mutation at the seventh chromosome, entered my bloodstream in a flurry like that of a Muhammad Ali combination. All those tiny, microscopic cells honing in on their target, the center of my large bones, fending off any unwanted intruders, cooperating with the rest of my body, repopulating, saturating. Giving me a new chance, new hope, new life.
Hospitals graduate patients when they reach five years cancer-free, kick them to the curb and tell them not to come back. It already happened to me once, and may happen again in Minnesota next month when I see Dr. Andre Million for possibly the final time. Graduation sounds good. Graduation from my second and final cancer sounds even better. Never graduating again, unless I go to graduate school, sounds the best of all.
Right now my risk of getting cancer is nearly as low as it will be for the rest of my life. In eight years my risk of developing soft tissue tumors rises. The same goes for colon cancer in 10 years and prostate cancer in 20. But fuck it. I’ve never concerned myself with negative thoughts like that and I’m not about to start now.
It just so happens that I’m also about as healthy and physically strong as I’ve ever been. But a preschool immune system and less than 10% body fat do not protect me from cancer. That’s what my organic Gala apples are for.
Today and this weekend I celebrate my graduation, my accomplishment, the same one so many others would do anything for, have done everything for, some successfully and some coming up short. I celebrate the point on the curve that some, not I, call “CURED.” And I celebrate life. L’chayim!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Read these first:
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Read this first:
T Minus Four Days
My bone marrow is so excited for her fifth birthday. When I told her, "Calm down, it's still two days away," she made me anemic. What a spoiled brat.
Back to Bob Saget, it looks like all that time spent with Michelle is finally paying off.
Cancer Freedom in Every Way
Sunday, April 20, 2008
*note: There used to be a blog widget counting down the time until the fifth anniversary of my bone marrow transplant.
I wonder what the countdown timer* will show at 11:30 AM on Thursday? Maybe a Chinese fortune. "You will remain healthy, the Redskins will win the Super Bowl and Bob Saget says hello."
T Minus Two Days
Cancer Freedom in Every Way
Thursday, April 17, 2008
If I ruled sports I would ban Bill Walton from, well, everything. The same courtesy would be extended to the entire Walton family.
There is little incentive for NBA teams to play hard in the regular season when 16 of 30 make the playoffs. If I ruled sports I would reduce the number to 12, matching the NFL playoff system.
Teams surely played hard in the Western Conference this year where the top six teams were separated by a mere two games. But we all knew those six teams would make the playoffs, anyway. And home court is not enough incentive for teams to play hard all 82 regular season games, or for fans to be fully engaged. There needs to be a first-round bye for the top two teams in each conference. Then they’d really be playing for something.
The NBA doesn’t want to take my advice because that would reduce the total number of playoff games, thus reducing its biggest source of revenue. The owners are only thinking about the short-term. Fewer people are watching the NBA than in the past, in part because fans know the regular season is meaningless. The longer fans tune out of the regular season, the more likely they’ll tune out of the NBA altogether.
If I ruled sports I would’ve called traveling on LeBron James two years ago when he beat my Washington Wizards with two buzzer beaters in the playoffs. Maybe I’d let it slide on the third and fourth steps, but not when he walked half the court without dribbling.
If I ruled sports I would force batters to stay in the batter’s box throughout their entire at bat. I’d also put a time limit on how long pitchers can hold the ball without throwing. Five hour baseball games are great, but six hours is really pushing it.
If I ruled sports I would allow intradivisional games to take place in the first round of the MLB playoffs. For example, let’s say the Baltimore Orioles win the AL East with the best record, and the Tampa Bay Rays win the wild card with the fourth best record. Under current playoff rules the Orioles would not be allowed to play the Rays in the first round. The Orioles are being punished by having to play a better team simply because the Rays are in the same division.
Just for fun let’s say the Yankees and Red Sox have the first and second worst records in baseball history. Babe Ruth comes back from the dead to curse both teams for eternity. While he’s at it, Babe has his way with some goats – sorry, Chicago Cubs.
If I ruled sports I would create a salary floor for baseball teams. The Yankees payroll is $165 million more than the Rays. Sorry Rays, but you’re never going to sniff the World Series, or the wild card for that matter. The beautiful thing about the NFL is its parody, which is at least partly achieved by each team having a payroll somewhere between the floor and the cap.
If I ruled sports I would stop bashing players for signing huge contracts. Professional athletes earn a smaller percentage of company dollars than employees in other industries. Owners make bank, and with the media on their side, they have the public’s sympathy, too. Besides, who wouldn’t want Alex Rodriguez money if he could have it? It’s not his fault he’s exceptional at hitting a ball with a stick. Imagine how that would sound if we weren’t talking about baseball.
If I ruled sports I would stop using Barry Bonds as a scapegoat. Everybody juiced. He was better before steroids and he was still better when everyone was on steroids. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
The only people to blame for The Steroids Era are baseball officials and team owners. The players were following the money that was laid out for them. If you had a chance to make $3 million per year playing baseball instead of working in an office for $40,000, you’d probably juice, too.
If I ruled sports I would create an eight-team playoff in college football. This is the only sport where there are 32 winners instead of one. The NCAA is worried about losing money from bowl sponsors, which is probably accurate. Instead of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl it would be the Tostitos Spicy Quarterfinal Bowl—not quite the same. They could still have sponsored bowls for the shitty teams. I’m already raising funds for the BenjaminRubenstein.blogspot.com Music City Bowl. Let’s pray my UVA Cavaliers can make it.
In the long run the NCAA would make much more money from the TV contract because so many more people would watch the playoff games. I’d make the first bid to broadcast one game on my blog if I didn’t already go broke. Fucking Nashville.
If I ruled sports I would put Scarlett Johansson in all the commercials. Scarlett Johansson drives Toyotas. Scarlett Johansson drinks Bud Light. Scarlett Johansson takes Viagra, but keeps a lookout for priapism—a persistent and painful erection that lasts longer than four hours.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I was at Zeke's house when I saw my first episode, just as I was for The Drew Carey Show and Wings. As much as I enjoyed watching Timothy Daly and Monk, I laughed a little harder when we saw "The Chinese Restaurant." "Cartwright!" gets me every time.
Watching Seinfeld became a Thursday night tradition for my brother and me, along with a few Fudgesicle pops. When it went off the air in 1998, NBC tried to fill the hole in my heart with pathetic replacements like Frasier and then Will & Grace. What a fucking joke.
I'd been watching—"spending time"—with Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine for so long that they felt like friends of mine. My favorite character changed by the year, although I could relate to all of them at one time or another. Any time I saw the actors on other TV shows or interviews I expected them to behave the same way as they did on Seinfeld. I expected the same from the main four as I did from Newman, Peterman, Puddy, and one of the funniest people I've seen on television, Frank Costanza. "Serenity now!"
My disappointment in them is not limited to Michael Richards' racist rant last year. It's equally upsetting watching Jason Alexander on Real Time with Bill Maher. He's so serious, too intelligent, and when he tries to be funny he's often not. It's not the George I know and love.
I understand they were just people acting out a role, but that’s not the way I saw it when I was going through cancer treatment. So many of my days were uncomfortable and forgettable. I watched movies or listened to music simply to pass the time. But when Seinfeld came on at 7:30 PM every weekday, I perked up. I had seen all the episodes countless times, so it wasn't a matter of getting new jokes and new laughs. It was my familiarity with the characters that made those thirty minutes so rewarding. It was like hanging out with my funniest friends. They were real to me and that’s all I cared about.
My parents didn’t watch Seinfeld before cancer and even had a bad impression of it, but when they were with me in the hospital they had no choice. They became huge fans, laughing out loud and referencing it when possible. I even got some of my doctors and nurses to watch a few minutes here and there, forgetting, if only temporarily, that their jobs were as serious as cancer. I imagine Seinfeld similarly touched the lives of other people with cancer. If a cancer person happened to have never seen an episode, then I would advise him or her to buy the seasons on DVD and watch them when they’re feeling sick. Seinfeld made living with cancer easier than it could have been.
The show’s true beauty lies in its inability to take itself seriously. Even in “The Pilot” where George thinks he has cancer, I laughed at him when I had cancer as I laugh now. The same goes for “The Scofflaw” where Jerry’s friend pretends to have cancer in order to get sympathy. When I started writing my book I wanted to emulate Seinfeld and only enter serious subjects with humor. Who was I kidding? I’m no Jerry Seinfeld or Larry David.
When I finished writing my book it was sent off to Jerry. The plan was for him to read it, be impressed with my fondness for him and his show, and give me a blurb I could use to sell the book to publishers. Unfortunately, he didn’t respond. I don’t know if he read it, or even if he is aware it exists. I’m guessing his manager tossed my manuscript in the trash. And if Jerry himself tossed it in the trash, then that’s fine, too. Maybe he’s teaching me a lesson. He’s telling me to find humor in that.
Thank you, Jerry.