Nathan's Blog

My Journey

Why I Am Lucky

It’s a crisp Autumn morning. We jump on our bikes. Michael is 8 and Jake, 11 years old. I help Michael mount his red mini racing bike as Jake gets on his more adult shiny black Stingray 2 wheeler. This ritual of riding to school is something we do at least twice a week.

Our journey starts at home. We drive through the community and we dismount, walk across Jericho Turnpike and then get back on our bikes. The rest is a breeze gliding through the local streets, but I watch them carefully as we pedal down towards school. The smiles are ear to ear and we zoom into Seaman school ready for Randy’s backpack delivery. We hug sometimes, say goodbye and they are on their way to class. For them it’s just what we do, for me it’s precious moments in time that make me present to love. We throw their bikes in the back of the truck and then I am off to work.

I, like most parents, love my children more than myself. They are an extension of me, an expression of who I am. Randy and I of course had and have our own lives, dinners, travel, friends… our own special times together. I spent hours at work. I loved work but I always had time for Jake and Michael, coaching, playing (no homework please) and experiencing life together as I watched them grow up into the young men they are today. I am well aware that they have their own destiny, their own future, and I don’t control that, not at all, though I sure as hell have tried to influence them.

But what happens when the father gets sick, like I did? What happens when the father is laid up in a hospital bed with cancer? What happens when the father can’t do what he once did? What happens when he becomes mortal? And he is still young?

How do my boys feel about that, about me? How are they processing the change in their minds? How do they feel when their invincible father becomes vulnerable and human? What happens when they see him cry?

I always knew that my love for Jake and Michael was eternal and timeless but what I learned now was that my boys love for me has been equal to that.

I see it in their eyes, in their expressions, in their discomfort in their pain and in their devotion.

“Dad you are the bravest man I know,” Michael writes to me on my Father’s Day card. My Michael who is oh so vulnerable but strong as he rummages through the messiness of this new reality.

And he is sensitive like his dad, not yet quite so self aware or expressive, but I can see it in his silence that he knows more than he admits. He loves me unconditionally the way I do him. I would say I am still his hero.

And Jake who is completely on his own, changed his career to come home and help me with my business. He is also me in so many ways and he, in his selfless nature, has expressed how lucky he feels to be spending this time with me and sees that if I hadn’t gotten ill, we never would be so close. We never would be building this lifelong business empire, as he puts it. He has showed me what strength and pure love is and he has been unequivocally devoted to me, helping me when I need it, never wavering even when seeing me at my weakest. He inspires me with his amazing love for life and adventure, his confidence and self assuredness, and his beautiful character. And he has become quite the talented businessman as well, I must say. I am proud to call him Partner.

As a parent we try our best and then hope and pray it all turns out because sometimes we are committed, present, and loving, doing all the right things and it still goes wrong, and it is heartbreaking. Looking on all I have, I am thankful for my good fortune.

When other relationships, family and friends, sometimes disappoint… when people understandably get bored of my same old story, my boys don’t waver. Every day is like the first day. Oh yeah, they’ve gotten used to it also and they are into their own lives for sure. They can turn it on and off and thank God for that. They deserve the freedom of being young and full of future.

I’ve gotten better,much better, but when I’m in pain they feel it too. I love them unconditionally and they love me just the same. That is mutual and eternal.

I have this memory I always recall. When they were small we used to travel and sometimes we’d all snuggle up in one big comfy bed, the 4 of us. It was as if my life was complete.

Funny, I’d still like to do that today… any day. It made me feel so safe and loved.

Yes my boys, they’ve given me pain, and anger, and worry (boy did I worry and still do) but they give me joy and love and a future.

So when I get weak or fearful I know I fight for myself and for Randy and my family but I fight for them, always for them.

In this journey I know my boys are watching, for themselves and for me who I’m being and how I’m being. I will never be the same, I have lost things and grown as well, and I know that they have grown together with me and through all this I know, no matter what, my boys and I are forever intertwined but separate, and that’s a good thing. How exciting for me to see them evolve and for them to dream of what’s to come. They have a lot to learn a lot to do and a lot to be.

My boys, I love you deeply.



For most, taking an elevator is as mundane as drinking water, but for me it’s a heart pumping adventure. I’m already 10 minutes late for my meeting but I haven’t budged.

I have created a set of rules for me and the elevator. First and foremost, I cannot be alone. I don’t care if it’s the 90 year old Chinese woman who can’t speak english or the harried food delivery person lost in his iPhone.

Second, the car must be big enough to fit at least 15 people and the doors open from the middle so I can pry them apart when it breaks down.

Third, I won’t enter elevators on Park Avenue South. They are older and creaky and just make me very uncomfortable. On the flip side, I am quite comfortable in Las Vegas elevators; Big, roomy, with TVs… fast and reliable. They have distracting commercials too.

There are more, but I’ll spare you.

I have lived on both the 25th floor and 35th floor in NYC apartments but I never minded those rides. They were familiar and felt safe. I could ride them all day long, no problem. On this day though, I waited till I felt comfortable, when the situation met my strict criteria, and stepped in behind the other passengers, praying that their floor was higher than mine, holding my breath and pressing number 17. I exhaled as the other passenger pressed 19. Clearly, I’ve survived every ride.

I like to think I can control everything, so what if I got stuck in that elevator? Would I panic until I passed out? Would I try to climb out through the top? Would I just slide down on my ass and cry? Would I just go crazy from fear? Would I run out of air? Would I eventually just calm down and wait for help? Would my cell phone work to get me help, or would I be like Tom Hanks and Wilson stuck on that Island?

I like to think I can control everything, but I have lived life as an entrepreneur. I have been a risk taker all my life. I have had many cycles, ups and downs, many fulfilling adventures and painful failures. But I always believed I would survive and thrive. I didn’t like adversity and defeat but I didn’t fear it either. I made money, lost it, and made it back again. It drove my wife crazy but we have had fun from the fruits of my risks. My family loved the benefits and rolled with the punches.

I like to think I can control everything, but I have lived with uncertainty my whole life. My childhood, a broken home, and my experiences left me feeling unsettled.

I like to think I can control everything, but I love roller coasters and actually enjoy airline flights. I love skiing on terrain I have no business skiing and I love exploring new and exotic destinations to which others would never venture. I have, at times, lived on the edge and I always welcomed the challenges that came with it.

Because of this all, I met great friends, married for 25 years have had great kids and I have lived my life my way, always searching for meaning in my life, searching for spirituality, and always knowing there are different ways to look at things. I am somewhat typical but inside I always have felt different, sensitive to a fault, with an ability for deep empathy that contradicts my ability to be selfish I have had a great relationship with my family. They get me.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, everything changed and nothing changed; except now the stakes became higher. When my esophagus stopped working properly, I was faced with even more struggle. Feeding tubes, bouts of hopelessness, anxiety, and lots and lots of pain.

So what control do I have?  Well, I can control my perception, maybe my thoughts, maybe my words, and my faith, and who I say I am in this matter. I wouldn’t know how to get out of that elevator and I can’t control things about my illness, because it’s taking time , but I ask myself: Can I control how I deal with it?

Can I surrender to what is and still fight the fight (which by the way is what I am doing)? Can I relax a bit, calm down, be with the discomfort and smile? Can I wake up in the morning say the Modeh Ani, a Jewish prayer of thanks, and feel grateful for my remission and for the beautiful life I have been privileged to have and look outside my physical body and do things like helping others not as fortunate.

Even at sloan Kettering I won’t go into an elevator alone. I am more afraid of riding one than the cancer itself. (Not really, but it’s close.)  How crazy is that?

When you step in an elevator, you give up control. I guess you could say I don’t have total control of my future but that is somewhat freeing. I control today through, Wednesday, June 9th. How I want to see the day. How I want to be with my loved ones. How I want to eat and  pray and be. How I believe and trust in myself and God (yes I believe). What I say to myself and others and what kind of person I want to be.

I have been growing my business. I have also been playing some tennis lately.  Don’t be surprised if I start again, beating players 20 years younger, or see me diving for basketball rebounds because it’s what I love to do.

Just don’t bet against me.  


Thank You Randy

My Dearest Randy,

Thank you for being brave when I am not.

Thank you for sleeping on a chair many nights in the hospital because I was afraid to be alone.
Thank you for waking up early every morning and getting my meds together.
Thank you for believing in me and my recovery even when I am not believing in it myself.
Thank you for carrying my bags when I am too weak.
Thank you for making all the doctor appointments.
Thank you for being a great mother to our children and sometimes being the dad too.
Thank you for being so loyal and unconditional with your love.
Thank you for never giving up and always looking for options to get me better.
Thank you for listening to me.
Thank you for crying with me.
Thank you for hoping with me.
Thank you for praying for me.
Thank you for preparing my food.
Thank you for hugging me when I am hurting.
Thank you for being loving.
Thank you for being love.

And thank you for helping me heal,
believing that I will heal.

You are my angel.

Thank you for the sacrifice and thank you for the love and the laughs… the future and the past.

Happy Birthday.


Back and Forth

If I were Superman or James Bond I’d probably be writing something different, about being invincible, but then again maybe I should realize only in fiction can you be indestructible. Truth be told I have had a tough time of it the last 6 months. If you read any of my early blog posts, you will see I was filled with hope and a healthy context about this illness in my life. Fear and despair were not an obstacle I was going to entertain. After 15 months of treatments, tests, shots, hospital stays, unexpected detours, overwhelming financial pressures… I must admit I am worn out and tired. I’ve had many rough days filled with pain, sadness and hopelessness. I am wounded.

Yes I am in remission and I am so grateful and proud that my body and mindset were so strong when I got the disease. It saved my life and I am more than ever committed to treat and respect this body and mind of mine with all that nature and life has to offer. We live in a great spiritual time where the world is now more open than ever to the power of thought and faith and how it can influence healing. Although I will continue my chemotherapy maintenance protocol, which lasts 3 years, my days are filled with educating myself on how to build my immune system up through the power of food and the right supplements and how a positive belief and support system can facilitate incredible positive changes and help you push through the tougher times. I will continue to use alternative modalities to strengthen myself so that my cancer doesn’t return.

I know there were no guarantees.

Chemo is poison, I know that, but it killed off my cancer and as I have now survived a pulmonary embolism (lung blood clot) a 12 inch malignant mass in my chest and there is now not a trace of it in my body anymore and anywhere. The leukemia is gone from my cells. Having been given a good prognosis, I am so thankful for that. Very. But despite my success there, it has left me more vulnerable and weak. I thought that getting and treating cancer would put me on a journey that would teach me priceless life lessons and bring me to epiphany that I have been waiting for my whole life; that would stay with me and shape me to be a better man, full of purpose and perspective. It seems that my story is still developing and that my timeline for my health and prosperity is different from God’s plan or whatever it is I believe in now that is bigger than me.

About 6 months ago, when I was about to go into maintenance for my treatments a full 10 months after going into remission, I developed an esophageal issue that has ruled and still rules my life. I felt intense pressure in my throat; a feeling of a gas bubble, air or food that was stuck and I couldn’t dislodge. It made it extremely uncomfortable to swallow anything and at a certain point it became impossible to even touch water to my tongue without the maddening sensation taking over. Acid reflux started to build up in my stomach and push into my esophagus which led to several intense episodes and emergency room visits that did not do much to stop the pain. This went on for months and I couldn’t eat or hold food down. In almost constant pain, discomfort and debilitating weakness from not being able to eat or drink for days at a time, I had to get a feeding tube.

Things have gotten a lot better. I have pushed and now I can eat and yesterday the feeding tube was removed. Most days I woke up, and still do, very nauseous as I feel the pressure of the bubble at my throat. Although things have gotten better, it’s still horrible. Waterboarding would be an upgrade.

My faith has wavered and my resolve has taken a hit, yet my desire to live a fulfilling life free of pain is stronger than ever. Ultimately it is my faith and belief that wills me through these days, and i have made great progress and have gotten healthier. I have been working with Jake and I am fortunate to have been able to spend so much quality time with him, to see him grow all the while helping me to rebuild a business I once flourished in. Despite numerous obstacles, I am working on my dreams so I could do the things I have always loved like traveling, exploring, meeting new people around the world and connecting with who I am, and most importantly so I can provide  financial security or my family. I have always lived for them and I am humbled by my circumstances.

My lessons of courage and faith have me working hard. I am both weaker and stronger than ever.

I am surrounded with deep love from my very good friends and most profoundly my wife and beautiful loving children, my generous and loving in laws, my committed sister and my quietly loving supportive mother, and even my ninety one year old father who calls me every day to see how I am doing.

I love life and I miss my old life. I just miss it being easy. Oh wait… it was never that easy, but it was fun and rewarding. I had my health though and you know what they say: if you have your health…

Is there a message here? I would say so… I am human. I forgive myself and I forgive everyone else that has ever hurt me. I am more free in that regard.

I am not sick, really. I have a condition that is very uncomfortable and has changed my life, but that too will get handled. I removed my feeding tube as I don’t need it anymore, just please hurry up with the pain part, I pray. Please hurry.

I know now I am a loving person. And a loved one. I know now I am loved. I do. I know I am full of love myself, now more than ever. I know it when I hug my kids, Jake and Michael or see my wife Randy and her unyielding commitment to take care of me. I know that I am afraid but I also know now that fear is worse than anything. It kills hope. It really kills everything. So I try not to dwell on it.

Love and faith will cure me. It will guide me. I just need some help this time. I need to find my way back so that I can find my way forward again, so that I am unrecognizable to myself. And I mean that in a good way. What can I tap into that is already inside of me and how do I access the greatness in me.

To my friends and family. This is the hardest blog I have ever written because I can’t seem to access the exact words to convey my deepest experiences, yet I am writing this in a cathartic way to let go and to admit to you that I need you guys. I am raw and open and it helps me not to be alone. It really does.

I feel too in my heart that there will be a time that I will look back at this period and understand it all. It just can’t come too soon.

P.S. I am throwing this out to the world that if anyone reading this knows off a GI doctor that specializes with esophageal issues, motility disorders, nerve damage, GERD and general acid reflux diseases I am open to hearing about them. I am also open to any alternative treatments and programs that will nutritionally, spiritually and holistically treat me. Email me at or call (516) 262-3597. Thank you.





My view from Seat 1A

As you probably know, I love to travel and fly, but when the aircraft shakes, I do too. I occupied seat 1A in first class on Virgin America on a typically mundane route between New York and San francisco when halfway through the flight, somewhere above Chicago, the plane started gyrating and rattling, bumping up and down violently. No matter how comfortable I tried to make myself, I couldn’t calm myself down. I tightened my seatbelt as one of the flight attendants strapped in across from me at the pilot’s instruction. I noticed that as I clutched the seat, my hands were getting sweaty and I kept checking to see if the attendant was nervous is any way. We exchanged glances and he didn’t look too alarmed, but maybe they are trained to act that way.

“Is this normal?” I asked him with as straight a face as I could muster but with my hands giving me away as I gripped on for dear life. I studied his face as he admitted the bumps were quite pronounced but he didn’t yet look afraid. That did not make me feel any better.

The pilot came on and said the turbulence and rough air would last at least another hour. My focus shifted to my watch as if each passing minute would accelerate time and bring me more calm. I told myself about how, as I had read, turbulence is not really dangerous if you are buckled in and that planes can handle so much more than this, but the ride could not end soon enough for me. With every rational thought that I was safe, my heart still pounded with each thump and I caught myself praying it would be over. I was filled with fear. It’s amazing how crazy the mind can make one feel when fear takes over. Eventually the thumps and bumps died away, as I knew it would, and we landed safely and uneventfully.

This month has been uncertain, hopeful and sometimes just boring but I would say that my anxiety is much worse now than it was the first couple of months. What’s interesting is that it’s not a relapse that keeps me clutching the seat, it’s the difficulty I have living with uncertainty. Even though I have never had a better understanding of what needs to be done to heal myself, I am still faced with the same challenges I always had. Faith, trust, discipline, belief and letting go of control.

I have always been a risk taker of sorts with the businesses I have chosen and the trips I have taken. How odd that I would choose to live on the edge so much of my life when I always found comfort in certainty. It is really painful to worry about outcomes I have little control over.

I have felt really great physically these past few weeks, yet there are still times that any small turbulence rattles me. I need that control. I need to know how everything in my life will end up. I am still in remission, yet I need to know with certainty my cancer will never return. Could that be possible?

I am working again and I am dealing with the challenges I have been dealt. I know that holding on harder and trying to read the faces of my friends and family for any doubt they have wilI not change a thing. I know that actually letting go will do me better. I can point out to many outside variables, things that are beyond my control, which help to shift to a calmer me, become a more present person and bring more happiness, but it’s belief, or faith, or love, or trust, or whatever I can create for myself that will allow me to lean my seat back, loosen my seatbelt and enjoy the view.

Top Ten Insights – (Significant and Insignificant)

My anxieties have always been here…

pre-cancer and post-cancer, though now my reasons for feeling anxious seem more justified (treatment side effects, worries about relapse, financial issues.) But really, it’s a lie to think it’s only because of the cancer.

So insight  #1 – Until I deal with my core issues of anxiety, I will always suffer from it.


Daytime TV sucks – especially in the hospital.

They still make these soaps? Who needs traffic reports at 2PM? Everything is a reality show or surviving in the amazon. News about fires and accidents, food shows and weather, weather, weather. Okay, Dr. Oz I enjoy, but the golf channel is showing the classics. I’ll pass.

So insight  #2 Get drugged up enough so that I actually enjoy these shows, or watch netflix on my laptop. Perhaps a good fiction book will do.


There is nothing better than not being nauseous.

The absence of nausea, when it finally dissipates… Ahhh nothing makes me more content in that moment. We all know through drinking or viruses or food poisoning or chemo… that tight, twisting in your stomach is just the worst. Who wouldn’t pay a king’s ransom to get that instant relief. 

So insight  #3 Know that the pain will end. Find drugs and natural remedies in advance. And use them.


Private hospital rooms are exponentially better than shared rooms.

I had my own private room last weekend. They charge $500 to $2100 a night premium for a private room, but I feigned a cold to get one on the house. Need to protect those other patients… (hope the hospital doesn’t read this because I’m going to try it again this weekend.) 

So insight #4 – Sharing a room sucks. Make enough money to get that private room, splurge, or find a loophole.


If you eat even moderate amounts, but you are sedentary, you will gain weight.

Many patients lose weight. Not me. I have been eating, sans a few nauseous days, (fairly) well. From exercising daily to taking barely a long walk at this point, my body knows it. My metabolism is in reverse and I have gained 10 pounds. 

So insight #5 – Eat better. Exercise when you’re feeling good, but mostly just accept it for now. I look healthier, I have been told, but it’s a new experience for me.


Really? I have cancer?

I’ll never totally comprehend it. There will always be that incredulous feeling, “Really, did this really happen to me and to us?”

So insight #6 – No lesson here for me. I guess it’s just a hard thing to ever totally wrap my head around.


Sloan kettering has the cheapest public parking in the city.

… Seriously, it’s like 18 dollars for 12 hours and that’s the upper east side.

So insight #7 – Hospital parking… Hope you never have to use it (though its open to the public.)


Sometimes I think I like going to the hospital.

I feel like I am making progress. I feel taken care of and productive. I don’t like the needles and the chemo, but I like the love and attention.

So insight #8 – Familiarity can bring comfort even though, of course, I can’t wait till I’m done going there.)


Time moves slow and fast for me.

It has been 5 months since my diagnosis. Seems like a lifetime, but also just like yesterday.

So insight #9 – This is too deep a subject to handle here, but you know what I mean


No one will know how it feels to have cancer unless they have had it.

It’s not good or bad, it’s just nothing I had ever experienced before, the unknown, the vulnerability even in remission; the array of feelings both physical and mental. It can be lonely and scary, but it can also be eye opening and insightful. It’s always very personal 

So insight #10Of course, what else would I expect. I was the same way with others. There is no judgement here. Nevertheless, I can never discount the tremendous love and support I have received from many and how it has helped me in my recovery.

So Dr. Douer…

“So Dr. Douer, I have had a very hard couple of weeks– both emotionally and physically.”

For some reason I have been feeling fearful and going to dark places. I don’t like what I’m letting my mind do to me. My resolve has taken a hit. I feel it in my body and my thoughts, a persistent anxiety that makes it almost impossible to feel peaceful.

“I wasn’t experiencing this the first few months,” I continued. “I felt unusually positive despite the shock of the cancer prognosis and the treatments I was undergoing. Should I take anything?”

“You have hit the wall,” Dr Douer told me with a calming certainty. “Every one of my patients experiences this at this point. You have been beat up. We have taken control away from you and for the past 6 weeks you have been getting the chemo treatments 4 days a week. Your white blood counts are low and you are anemic… You are normal; everything is normal. You are doing great and we are on schedule. What you are feeling is to be expected. It will only get easier from here.”

Those words were powerful for me. The power of suggestion was never so clear. I was looking for compassion but what I got was empathy, confidence and compassion all rolled into one and immediately my body and mind relaxed and I got the peace I was searching for.

Since that meeting, I have been experiencing some peace but I am also dealing with my mind and body and the effects of the treatments. It has taken a lot of discipline to stay in the present but I have my support network, meditation, visualization, reiki,  and my friends and family. I will always embrace both Western and Eastern philosophies as I believe they both have a place in my healing. I still have too many moments, and I can tell you …they suck.

Surrounding myself with positive, supportive people and the power of my doctor, any doctor, and their bedside manner and respect can not be understated. Now that I am experiencing it firsthand, I would never settle for anything less from any doctor as I truly believe it could alter the outcome. Dr Douer has been straight and thorough– always resolute, confident and it has helped me immensely.

I also know that the mind and body are very connected. I can never tell if my anxiety at any given moment is caused by my physical state and all the toxic drugs or by the fear. Ultimately, I know its both. They cannot be separated.

One day at a time, one hour, one moment, this moment. That’s when I do best. I always know that when I don’t project and try to control the future I do better. When I believe and trust and let go, that is when I am most at peace.

And as I deal with this every day, I do know that this is the only way to go.

I have enjoyed writing these blogs. They are healing for me and love sharing my heart. It was uncomfortable at first, exposing myself, but then I said what the fuck. If I can share my story and make a difference, I am healing myself.

“So Dr. Douer, will I ever be my old self again?”

“Yes. It’s going to be grueling at times and its a long process, but we want to cure this cancer and make sure it never returns. I know we are taking your life from you in a way, but we will give it back to and the way you want it.”

As they say, From your mouth to God’s ears.

Randy Schwarzbaum – Chief Organizing Officer (COrO)

One of the challenges of my daily  schedule of treatments  is the sheer enormity of the logistics. On any given day I could have 2 blood tests, 3 chemo treatments, a spinal tap and meetings with doctors and nurses. It’s not usually like that, but there have been days packed from morning to night.

Add to this, the transportation requirements, commuting or lodging, taking medications on a timely basis, eating good meals, keeping the right food handy in case I feel queasy… it’s overwhelming.

Randy, my amazing wife  has been managing all of this and although I knew she was organized and had an uncanny ability to manage things, I never realized how good she really was until now.

So she has been recruited. Yes she is now working for MyMrktr, my digital agency. Why waste these talents on orchestrating my health related schedules alone when she can help Jake and I be more efficient as we build this business.

So Randy is now Chief Organization Officer (until I come up with a more empowering title, suggestions welcome.)

She is responsible for us keeping deadlines, keeping things moving , creating clarity with timelines and projects, and getting us from just staring at the computer screen and into action when we are stuck. I, of course, am working with limitations at this point in time and we feel short staffed when the workload hits its peak but now, either way, this has become a family affair. Of course, what’s certain is that this will lead to infighting and egos colliding, but hey, I think she  still know who the boss is (her) : ) .

Bottom line is we have to deal. I have to deal with the reality, and the ups and downs of my mental and physical states, the amount time I spend at Sloan, and the battling of my fatigue, both mental and physical. Randy has become a tremendous asset in just these last 2 weeks.

And as we move forward and the business continues to grow she will become an integral part and I’m very confident she will deal (not really) with her having to reporting to me.

You never know what life will bring and sometimes things are so obvious you don’t see them. I’m very confident this will end up working out very well for us. I know you are probably thinking, “How could Randy add any more to her plate?” but actually this experiment has been working out really well and we all feel really good about how it’s going.

I’ll keep you posted.

No epiphanies

I’m writing this blog today at the behest of my father-in-law Natie Grama. He says he misses my posts, so this one is for him. I intentionally haven’t written a post in a while because I felt I didn’t have anything new to say.  I realize that this wasn’t actually true. The treatments hit me harder these past few weeks and through all that I was waiting for some inspiration to hit me. That is not how you create good writing.

I don’t want this to be just a post on my progress, so to get it out of the way…

The treatments are tough but I am doing very well, dealing with the rigors of the chemo treatments can be brutal, but then there are also days when I feel really good. My prognosis is excellent and that always is something that eases the process for me.

What I am told is that by May, the protocol will slow down tremendously and I may have some semblance of a normal life. I am in remission and plan to stay that way and be cured from this cancer completely.

I still feel very lucky that my disease responded so well to treatment. It breaks my heart when I see people, every day, men and women who were healthy, people like you and me, who get plucked from their daily lives and dropped into a new life, this life of cancer, survival and humility. There is nothing more humbling and it is the great equalizer. It kills off their vitality and, even as a cancer patient myself, it is heartbreaking to see people so raw and vulnerable.

So again, I haven’t written because I didn’t see the seismic shift of being that I was looking to write about. I am still worrying, still have doubts, still get moody (not as much anymore,) scared, all of that.

Hey, I’m still me…

BUT the insight, or dare I say epiphany, I had was that while I was looking to change and have breakthroughs , I thought I knew what that change would look like. I am learning and growing every day, but it doesn’t look and feel the way I want it to look. Only looking back will I be able to see my transformation. You know the saying, Life happens while you’re making other plans. I am growing and I am evolving. I am creating new and great possibilities and I have learned many lessons.

And what I realize is that this is ongoing and that I’m braver than I thought I was,

I’m less kvetchy than I thought I would be,

I have less anxiety than I would have thought,

I’m more resilient than I would have thought,

I have created relationships that I never had, family and friends alike,

and it goes on and on and it’s just the beginning.

My “aha!” moment may never come. It’s the manifestation of those gradual changes that will appear in the ordinary moments. It may never be some dramatic realization, or maybe it will, but it will never look or feel the way I expect it to.

I still feel discontented, like there is something wrong, too much of the time, but expecting that someday it will look like “this” or “that” is a delusion.

I know for sure that I am not the same man I was in November. Of course, in almost every fundamental sense, I am me, but it is impossible remain unchanged after dealing with mortality and all the uncertainties I’ve encountered. I’m still me as I want success and wealth and fun and love and I still want it all. It’s just the way I want it, and of course, I’m still me, so I still expect it.

My Shabbat prayers

One of the traditions I have maintained and respected in our household is to have a traditional Friday night dinner. We started many years ago and maintained it through many milestones but as the kids got older, things changed somewhat. We missed many Fridays as a whole family, but Randy and I (and Layla of course) have tried to keep it up. I always loved watching Randy bring in the Sabbath because it reminded me of a comforting moment in my childhood when I watched my mother light the Shabbat candles. At dinner, the prayers, even though just minutes long, slowed down time for me and gave me comfort. I think we all loved it, though the kids wouldn’t admit it. It was definitely a positive staple in our home.

As it so happens, Michael is coming home from Pitt for the weekend, Jake is here and I’m home from treatments and feeling relatively strong today. Tonight we will pray and say the blessings and sing together.

I added my own prayer to add to the traditional Friday night ritual:

Dear Hashem, whatever you are and however you show up,

On this Friday night, I pray to you. Keep providing me the strength I need, both physically and emotionally, to persevere even through the toughest days. Bless and help the people responsible for my health to make me well.

Bless Randy and provide her with the love and peace she deserves. Help her see the ability in herself and guide her to her strengths and keep filling her with that optimistic love. Let her see her greatness.

Bless my children Jake and Michael. Provide them with the insight and courage to see for them that there is a lot of faith within all of us, and know they are on a journey full of great mystery and fulfillment and that we will always be a family unit together and forever.

Bless my family, my parents, my sister and my whole extended family. Bless my friends. Bless Layla.

Dear God that is within me. I pray tonight for all the cancer patients that I have crossed paths with at the hospital, many recovering and all in their own personal journey.. I pray for them.

Hashem, at this moment of prayer I cede control and trust in the forces of love and prayer as that they are heard.

Shabbat shalom.