View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



November 2009



Cancer, anyone?

Written by , Posted in Reviews

It’s been just over a year since The World’s Greatest Cubs Fan (my dad) received a cancer diagnosis from his physician. Just over a year since the major surgery to remove that cancerous lesion. And just under a year since the catastrophic chemotherapy which really changed our lives. That’s my justification (weak though it may be) for posting this review.

“Cancer On $5 A Day” is an outstanding book, primarily for two reasons:
1. The author, Robert Schimmel is a stand-up comic, so there’s humor involved, and,
2. His first person descriptions of what chemotherapy was like helped me to understand what my dad went through during this past year.

The complete title is “Cancer on $5 A Day* (*chemo not included) – How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life”, by Robert Schimmel with Alan Eisenstock. It was published in 2008.

The author describes himself as a comedian’s comic who appears regularly on Howard Stern and Conan O’Brien, who’d won the Stand-Up Comic of the Year, whose HBO and Showtime specials were huge hits, who has best-selling CDs, and whose Fox sitcom had just been picked up when his cancer was diagnosed. I never heard of him.

His chemotherapy began within 48 hours of receiving the diagnosis of Stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, triggering a life-altering series of events.

Stories about the doctors, nurses, staff, fellow patients, his extended family, career ramifications, a wig salesman, treatment options (including medical marijuana and prosthetic testicles), personal reactions and first hand recollections are presented humorously.

Here’s a quote from the author’s dedication page: “Take it from me, laughter is the best medicine.”

Upon receiving his cancer diagnosis the author’s attitude parallels that of one-time cancer patient Michael Landon: “If I don’t beat cancer, I’ll die trying.” Unfortunately, Mr. Landon did die trying.

Mr. Schimmel’s treatment phase lasted about 6 months, at the end of which his cancer was officially declared to be “in remission”. It is those 6 months that this book is about.

Here are excerpts from two testimonials on the book’s back cover:
– “Robert Schimmel always made me laugh. Now he makes me laugh and cry at the same time.” Billy Crystal

– “A very important read.” Howie Mandel

It has been said that people would much rather be entertained than educated. What author Robert Schimmel has done here is to have educated me while entertaining me at the same time.

I recommend this book to anyone even peripherally involved in a cancer situation, or to anyone with a casual interest in “What happens next?” when the words “You have cancer!” are spoken.