Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My First Book Party

On Sunday afternoon, my generous aunt and uncle threw me a book party at their home in Washington, D.C. They hired Politics and Prose, an independent D.C. bookseller, to sell copies, as well as caterers and a bartender. It was an outdoor event and the weather was gorgeous—a perfect day to blast off my book into the world.

My aunt and uncle's highly successful friends attended the party: former Secretary of Defense, an author of 16 books, a Washington Post writer for the last 28 years, a CEO of a solar energy company, among others. It was an honor to be celebrated, and seeing my yellow book in just about everyone's hands—hiding behind the crowd before poking its shiny head out for a brief moment—was exhilarating. But hearing publicity experts discuss what it takes to sell a lot of books was overwhelming. I will be spending most of my non-working, non-exercising, and non-Redskins-watching hours trying.

Though technically I saw some of the Redskins game Sunday and thus will continue my streak of seeing every game since 1997, I did not watch much. I did not realize that D'Angelo Hall intercepted four passes until afterward. Sadly, I did not know the outcome until afterward (Redskins won 17-14). Of course I wanted to watch, but I was expected to mingle, and I did so begrudgingly.

Benjamin Rubenstein speaking at book party
I had prepared a short speech, and my aunt and uncle had me deliver it twice in case some guests didn't hear it the first time. My jokes were exactly the same each delivery. I didn't get too many laughs the first time, and a whole lot of crickets the second. I was so nervous I forgot to thank Mary Tabor, who helped so immensely with my book.

I may have turned a corner, though, in my ability to speak publicly. In my tenth grade Honors English class, I had to deliver a five-minute speech as part of my group project. My group members had been Zeke, PepperoniNip, and HollaAtYoBoy. When it was my turn, my voice cracked. Those horse's asses burst into laughter, which sparked the rest of the class, including myself. Unable to stop, I placed my note cards on the podium and took my seat with the rest of my classmates. Our teacher, oblivious to what had just occurred, said, “Ben, what are you doing?”

PepperoniNip realized I was laughing too hard to speak, and said, “Ben won’t be able to continue, so I’ll finish his part.”

For the rest of the semester, my friends volunteered me to read in front of the class.

Sunday, my aunt and uncle volunteered me to read a book excerpt. I found a way out of that one, but I may not be so lucky at the next event. So if you attend a book signing of mine, and notice that, during a reading, I grew nine inches and look exactly like my cousin, then keep it to yourself.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Book. Published. Available. Now.

It has been a long road spanning one-quarter of my life. It has put my life on hold, indirectly preventing me from moving forward. If I were to divide my life into segments, they would go: Pre-Cancer Ben (0-16 years old), Cancer I (16-17), Pretending Like Cancer I Never Happened (17-18), Cancer II (19), Cancer II’s Aftermath (19-22), Book (20-26). Writing and trying to publish my book has been an extension of cancer, in that I cannot move forward until this process is complete.

Expectations are powerful, and I feel for college athletes who believe they are destined for fame and riches. I expected the writing and publishing process to take less than a year. And so I pushed opportunities away, claiming that success would be easier and rejection less likely after becoming a published author. I foolishly pushed life away for six years.

I knew that I was resisting the lesson I had already learned when I became cancer-free in September, 2001: that no matter what happens, life just keeps moving along. Life is pretty much the same at 20 years old as at 21, at 8% body fat as at 15%, and, in many ways, being a survivor isn’t a whole lot different than having cancer. Life’s linear path keeps moving forward. But it became convenient to wait and wait and wait until my book was published.

The wait is over. My cancer memoir, titled TWICE: How I Became a Cancer-Slaying Super Man Before I Turned 21, has been published and is available for purchase. On the surface, TWICE is about dealing with and surviving cancer. But really it is about a boy who sees something special in himself. He embraces it, and uses it to his advantage. What he doesn’t realize is that his faith in this special trait holds him back in life. TWICE is a story of struggling to grow up from adolescence into adulthood in the face of deadly challenges.

I am overjoyed to share my story with you, and I thank you so much for your support.

TWICE can be purchased through my website, CancerSlayingSuperman.com

Hear what others are saying about TWICE:

Jonathan Kellerman, 33-time New York Times bestselling author

Benjamin Rubenstein is a gifted story-teller and the story he tells in TWICE is riveting. This is a stunning page-turner of a memoir, devoid of the mawkishness that often mars the genre. TWICE is brutally honest, sometimes rib-achingly funny and all the more profound for the author’s brave exploration of himself.

Library Journal by Jodith Janes, Cleveland Clinic Library
It is estimated that only 150 diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma are made annually and only two-thirds of these patients survive more than five years. Rubenstein was diagnosed with Ewings's at 16, but was determined not to be a "Sick Kid" for "I would never be able to discard the Sick Kid label." Writing with wit and humor, he chronicles his fight with this terrifying disease. Rubenstein's belief in the superhuman ability to fight his cancer gave him the courage to face chemotherapy and its devastating side effects, bone biopsies, a second cancer (leukemia), a stem-cell transplant, more chemotherapy, infections, hemorrhagic cystitis, weight loss, and osteoporosis. In spite of invasive diagnostic tests, treatment set-backs, and demanding physical therapy, he never fears he will lose his battle. The strong support of his family is documented with love and occasional frustration at what he sees as over-protectiveness. A University of Virginia economics degree is testament to his survival and entry into young adulthood.
Verdict: An inspiring and fascinating personal account of a long and often painful journey that would appeal to other patients and their families.

Don't forget to join my Facebook Page.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010


I’ve been following Lance Armstrong for years. I knew about him before I developed cancer, as a cycling champion and philanthropist. I looked up to him, mostly for his athletic prowess.

And then I got cancer, and people told me to read his book, It’s Not About the Bike. I read it a year after finishing treatment, and only after I got over my disgust of Lance. Despite his cancer memoir being one of the few that aren’t sappy, he still wrote about his experiences, and that made him a pussy according to my rule. Lance Armstrong: seven-time Tour de France winner, raiser of tens-of-millions of dollars, idol to tens of millions of people, and a huge pussy.

Though the rules that guided my life remained, I exempted Lance and began to study him. I learned how treatment made him a better athlete by trimming fat and transforming his muscles to fast-twitch, how his chemotherapies were immensely more potent than mine, how he thrived on pain, how he tweaked his body and bicycle to attain efficiencies, how he dedicated his life to curing cancer, how he used technology and knowledge to gain an edge.

I noticed how he doesn’t trust people and keeps a tight inner circle, how he can’t stand losing (at anything) as much or more than Jordan or Kobe, how he’s a risk-taking lunatic, how his family background created a ferocious drive in him. Lance was one of the best athletes in the world, from a physiological, as well as competitiveness, standpoint.

Lance is cancer’s poster boy. His organization has raised millions. His goal is to raise billions. He is a god to millions of patients, survivors, athletes, and others. Like past presidents, the rewards of his life and actions may not be seen for many years to come.

Despite his life carrying more value than most others on the planet, our government—or in other words, we, the taxpayers—are paying millions of dollars to attack Lance and put him in jail. I do not know if he is guilty of doping—it seems that every cyclist does. I’m not sure it’s possible to complete that race without some chemical assistance. I do know that Lance will fight his charges to the death, that if anybody could win the Tour seven times without doping it is him, and that, just as Lance was exempt from my “pussy” rule, he is exempt from “justice” even if he is a cheater because a conviction will punish the world as much as Lance.


Two weeks ago, my friend at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told me that Lance Armstrong was visiting young cancer patients on her unit. She asked if there was a message I would like to give him. Of course I would accept this opportunity for one of my heroes to read something I wrote. But I was torn: do I mention the book I wrote in hopes that he’ll want to read it? Lance must despise unsolicited requests more than I hate self-promotion. Do I slobber over him? He probably gets annoyed with constant praise. Or do I try to be witty and make him laugh?

I wrote that he inspired the title of my blog (and original title of my book) and the non-sappy direction of my book, that he inspired me to reach my peak in physical fitness, and that he inspired a mindset in me as I took on cancer. I only half-heartedly thought he would actually receive this message. When my friend later wrote that she personally handed Lance my message, and that he put it in his inside jacket pocket and said “Great!” I was touched. He could have trashed it, but I like to think that I broke his inner circle during the thirty seconds it took him to read it.

My friend also sent me an autographed LIVESTRONG guidebook. I will frame this and hang it on my Wall of Fame with all my other great memorabilia.

Lance’s probable reaction to seeing “I’ve Still Got Both My Nuts”: I’m going to slice this arrogant fuck’s nutsack. It was meant to be playful, Lance, I swear! Is it creepy that imagining Lance thinking of my nutsack makes me giddy? (…Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Lance Armstrong autographs LIVESTRONG Guidebook

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