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a profound funny man

Except for purchasing pot, comedian-turned-cancer-patient Robert Schimmel doesn’t really delve into the monetary cost of cancer in “Cancer on $5 a Day,” but he does cover the physical and mental toll it takes.

In the midst of starting his own Fox TV show, Schimmel got the news that he had stage three non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“Talk about life throwing you a curve ball. Yesterday I fantasized that in six months I’d be known as Robert Schimmel, sitcom star. Today I’m fantasizing that in six months I’ll be alive. Amazing how fantasies change. Wasn’t long ago that my fantasies involved me and two women in cheerleader outfits.”

Schimmel doesn’t use humor to stay detached from the situation. He delves right in, stirring the pot with a stick of humor. He shares sad, touching moments, but still sees the humor in situations. Be warned that Schimmel can be very real, very descriptive and down right dirty. But it’s worth it because he’s also fresh, poignant, interesting and inspiring.

“Cancer. Cancer. … What’s strange, but not surprising, is that when I hear the word, my first reaction, my initial instinct, is to go for the laugh. It really is. I don’t plan it, don’t think about it. I just go for it. I realize instinctively that even though I’ve just been told I have cancer, I haven’t been told that I’m going to die. And to prove it, I’m going to do the one and only thing that shows that I am very much alive: I am going to make the audience laugh.”

Anyone facing cancer should read “Cancer on $5 a Day.”

This book is not just a jumble of one-liners. Schimmel goes through all the gory details of dealing with cancer: mouth sores, chills, constipation, hemorrhoids, migraines, extreme weakness. You’ll even learn about merkins, which are wigs for … down there … that apparently date back to the Elizabethan era.

Schimmel tries every alternative treatment he can find, including Reiki, crystals, acupuncture, yoga and meditation. And he comes away from the experience with a new outlook on life:

“Keep your sense of humor, no matter what.
Create a purpose, a focus, and never take your eyes off it.
Figure out what’s important to you. What’s really important.
Be open. Try anything. You never know.
Love. You need love. Tons of it. A s***load of love.
Sometimes you need to be selfish.
You need support. You’re in this alone, but you can’t fight it alone.
The most precious thing you have is time. Don’t waste it.
You’re only human.
And, finally, once again –

Schimmel manages to make you laugh at a terrifying, deadly disease, making the humor heroic. He gives a straight, frank, funny account of a man not giving in. The language is rough and some bits are dirty, but it just adds to the honesty of the situation.

I never thought I would recommend a cancer book as a summer beach read, but Schimmel has changed my mind. “Cancer on $5 a Day” is an easy read that is both powerful and touching.

“a profound funny man”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    This was a great book. I would cry and laugh while reading the same page. Intense at times, the humor Schimmell injects into his fight helps lift the horror of this terrible disease.