Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Passed Away Resulting from Cancer: Poh Nikbar May

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew spent 22 seasons in Major League Baseball, mostly with the Minnesota Twins, and racked up 573 home runs and one American League MVP. He was ranked fifth on the all-time home run list for nearly 30 years. He has since been passed by six ballplayers, with only Jim Thome and my idol Ken Griffey, Jr., as likely the only two never to have used performance-enhancing drugs.

I read several articles today about Harmon, with each initially focusing on his baseball career, and then transforming into a story about his kindness. I never saw him play or really got to know him, but Jim Caple and Joe Posnanski affirm what I suspected: Harmon was a wonderful human being.

In the summer of 2003, after receiving my umbilical cord stem cell transplant at the University of Minnesota, the Twins organization offered me and my family a press box for a game against my favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles. My immune system was vulnerable, so we had our own secluded space. It was a promo game with each fan receiving a Harmon Killebrew baseball card. Harmon was in attendance, and visited people all around the stadium. He came to our press box.

At 5’11”, Harmon was no giant, but was bulky and clearly a powerful man, even at 67 years old. His nickname during his playing days was “Killer,” which presented an intimidating perception. That perception faded immediately. He spent over twenty minutes in our private box—meaning he spent an entire inning visiting one family in a building with thousands of them, just because I was in a bad way and he wanted to make a difference.

I was never one to believe in a support team, or needing external motivation to deal with cancer and its treatment. But I can say this: when I met Harmon I was in a rapid health decline with no end in sight, medication that wasn’t working, and a physical appearance that made me feel like a Sick Kid. Spending time with the Hall of Fame slugger lifted my spirits, and if nothing else gave me a good story to tell. I acknowledge the possibility that Harmon aided in my recovery. He surely tried to.

Harmon was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in December 2010, and began treatment. Just four days ago he announced that he was ending treatment—he had lost his battle with cancer, he knew, and would soon end his life. He passed away this morning at the age of 74, leaving behind 9 children, 23 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, and many somber fans.
Benjamin Rubenstein with Harmon Killebrew in University of Minnesota press box

Leia Mais…

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jew Basket

Though I did use to snag candy from Zeke's Easter baskets as a kid, I have never received my own. Two weeks ago my friends Infinicuralier and TinyAppetite set out to change that. I was blown away when they surprised me with my very own basket of candy.

Diverse candy basket for a Jew on Easter

I had already decided to re-start my seemingly never-ending diet (I'll explain later) the following week, which gave me precisely five days to finish all this candy. And I would be out of town for two of those days, leaving just three. In three days I was forced to finish an amount of candy that can only be measured in pounds. Best three days of my life, though only chemotherapy has had the ability to make me feel sicker.

Infinicuralier and TinyAppetite presented my basket to me two days before Easter.They should have waited until the day after, when prices would be slashed and thus my basket would be even larger for a reduced cost to them. You can keep your Jewish stereotypes to yourself, because that is pure economics.
Chocolate bunny labeled "Jew Basket" for a Jew on Easter

Leia Mais…

Saturday, May 7, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: E-Book. Available. Now. Really. Cheap.

Bossypants Kindle version: $12.99
Gallon of gas: ~$4.00
Bud Light at a Washington, DC, bar: ~$7.00
Chick-fil-A chargrilled chicken value meal w/ soup instead of fries: $8.49
My book, TWICE, Kindle version: $3.99

My recently-published cancer memoir, TWICE, is now available in e-book format for $3.99 on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. Unlike other digital media, you will fully own TWICE to enjoy however you like: print it, share it, etc. If you own a Kindle, then click here.

If you do not own a Kindle, then no problem! There are two ways to get your electronic copy:

1. Simply download Kindle for PC (or Kindle for iPad, iPhone, Mac, Blackberry or Android), which is FREE. Click here.

After downloading, click here and read directly from your computer or mobile device.

2. Smashwords.com offers TWICE in ten different formats, including a .pdf and plain text. Click here.

And of course, TWICE is still available in print from Woodley Books here.

I purposely set the price this low because I want everyone to have the opportunity to read TWICE. Below is a testimonial that illustrates the positive impact TWICE can have on people:

“I met you at Children's National Medical Center about a month ago. I have a little boy named Hayden. I read your book and loved it. Some parts I cried and some parts made me laugh pretty hard. It was great to meet you. I think of you often, and carry a lot of what you said in your book with me.” – Melissa B., mother of a transplant patient; January 7, 2011

Leia Mais…