People ask me about getting cancer a second time. It is just not the kind of “déjà vu” you ever want to have.

A Charlie Brown cartoon summarizing my life is taped to a miniature 50-year-old Sebring computer on my desk. In the first panel, he is in bed looking out at the stars asking why so many bad things happen to him. The answer from the skies is simple: “Nothing personal. Your name just happened to come up.” 

As the wise book, “The Little Prince,” taught us, “So It Goes.”

I got out of the hospital last week and my caretaker posted a Facebook picture of me in my living room recovering, with one of my dogs under a blanket smiling. It was nice. 

Over 350 people responded. It was legacy of love and laughter from a span of five generations of Facebook friends. Have I really meant that much to so many people, even Leatrice Slote Spanierman, from the Nassau Herald on Long Island, who literally gave me my first job in journalism, publishing a weekly newspaper called “Youthquake,” capturing the 1960’s generation in print? 

One of my first columns praised former President John F. Kennedy, declaring him to be a youthful leader that would light a torch leading America to seek a newer world. Ten years later, my generation lived not through his light and life, but his assassination. And his brother’s. And Martin Luther King’s too. 

I would go to Woodstock, Mankind would go to the Moon, but America would go to hell, with racial unrest, the Vietnam war, campus violence, and discrimination against women, gays, and minorities. The world would not be what we wanted it to be. Fifty years later, now thanks to Vladimir Putin, it still is not. 

In two weeks, the South Florida Gay News will celebrate an anniversary party at Greico Ford in Fort Lauderdale. Join us, because despite so many wrongs in this world, the LGBT community brings us right, love, compassion and equality. 

We have been advocates for justice in a world that has seen too much injustice. This year, thanks to a Supreme Court marching us back a half-century, we have to fight back again. Don’t you dare not join the battle. It is our lives and the freedoms we are fighting for. 

We can’t control the distance of our lives, only its depth, diversity, and character. Fate has dealt me a few blows this past year, but I am still here, plugging today for a newer world tomorrow. I may not get there with you all, but like John Kennedy, I am going to try to carry that torch. I urge you to do the same. 

My hero has always been Jackie Robinson, the athlete who broke the color barrier in pro baseball. Life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives. 

Bring a Xanax just in case, but never forget “If it is to be, it is up to me.” 

I have been writing the “cancer comedy chronicles” lately. The truth is there is not a lot funny about it. But you play through and hope for the best.

Here's one anecdote I think you will like. When the doctor first told me I was sick, I said, “What the hell,” and went away for a month to some baseball games. 

When I came back to see him, I asked what's up? 

He said I have good news and bad news.  

“Give me the good news first,” I said.

He said, “You have 30 days to live.” 

But I replied, "I wanted the good news first." 

“That was the good news, Norm. We have been trying to reach you for a month. How were those baseball games, anyway?"


OP-ED | The Cancer Chronicles: Rants and Ruminations from a Medical Bed

OP-ED | The Cancer Chronicles, Part 2: Ruminations of a Chemotherapeutic Mind

OP-ED | The Cancer Chronicles, Part 3: Machinations of a Medicated Mind

OP-ED | The Cancer Comedy Chronicles, Part 4: Demented Comedy from a Chemotherapeutic Contrarian