Thursday, June 20, 2013

When A Good Friend Has Cancer

I don’t often find myself at a loss for words, but what does one tell another when you learn someone you’ve known since age five has cancer? He’s only 46.

The good news is it’s the earliest stage of a disease – testicular cancer – that has one of the better rates of long-term survivability.  But it’s still cancer.

It means your life flashes before you.  It defines you.  It makes sure you don’t forget about it, always looming and hanging over your head.  Research and tests will be needed and consultations with doctors will be required on the best course of treatment.  Then after he undergoes whatever is needed, he’ll have a lifetime of monitoring and testing, hoping and praying it doesn’t return, grow, or spread to other areas.

On the other hand, he’s lucky it was caught in time and that he has an opportunity to still live a long and fully functional life.  He can think of the negatives and get down on things, or he can stay positive and see there is legitimate cause for optimism.  I suppose all kinds of things go through your mind and perhaps it’s necessary to contemplate all things in your darkest hour, but to find a way to see things in the light of day is the way to go.

Of course I did what any friend should do – say the right things, remain upbeat, show support, and crack a joke to lighten the load.  But I know no matter what I say – or what anyone else says – he will have moments where he feels alone, feels lost, feels in danger.  It almost brings me to tears to let myself feel and see things through his fragile psyche.  It’s not easy to wear his skin right now.

But he just needs to move forward and take control of what he can and to educate himself on the disease, possible treatments, and side effects.  It’s a long road ahead but he will take things one step at a time, which is really how we should all live.  We can’t go crazy thinking about all of the bad things that could happen – some will happen regardless of our worries, preparations, avoidances, gambles, or strategies.  And we will need to summon the courage and strength to handle what comes our way.

I at least would like to believe that, but today I must take pause and realize my friend’s going through a game-changer.  I will root him on, every step of the way.  That’s all I can do.

Over the years I’ve promoted a number of doctors and authors who wrote about various diseases, chronic conditions, and cancer.  I always thought they were talking about someone else, but now it’s hit home.  The guy who is just 12 days older than me, whom I met in kindergarten and have stayed in touch with for decades, is battling an opponent that never seems to rest or quit – or even play by the rules.

Rightfully, his diagnosis consumes his life right now.  He even postponed a job he was supposed to start.  But the goal is to one day, hopefully soon, find a way to normalize things and learn to co-exist with the disease.  I guess cancer forces you to immediately confront mortality, but the truth is, so many things can do us in – a car, a fall, a punch, a criminal – that if you really think about it, we all live with a level of danger.

I wish my friend well and hope that he’ll soon be in a better frame of mind, when life seems clearer and with a foundation.  From here on in, everyday will be a gift, not just for him, but for me too.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

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