First, for the past nine months I have tried to keep my spirits up. But the truth is that it has not been easy.

A cerebral stroke in June, a brain tumor in July, and COVID in August were not the way I planned my summer.

For good measure, I have spent the last months snorting chemotherapy to fight pancreatic cancer. Then came the surgery, with plans for some more prophylactic chemo down the road. Looking forward to it, I heard they are introducing a new lime mango brand.

So you take what life deals you. It is not always roses, but somewhere there can always be a Mykonos coming your way. Have faith. Look to the sun. It takes you to a brighter path.

Who you are is who you are, and no one can or should ever take that away from you. If someone you know has a problem with you being gay, for example, it’s their problem, not yours.

First then, rule number one is that even though rose bushes have thorns, you don't always get dealt a full house or a flush. Sometimes there are aces and eights. Bounce back.

Second, always grow up with a pet. It will show you how a wagging tail is all it takes to love something in life no matter how they look. Just try to become the person your dog thinks you are foolish though he may be. Brothers and sisters are okay, but don’t trust them with your baseball cards or Barbie dolls.

Third, if you can learn to laugh at yourself early in life, you will never ever cease to be amused. And you will always find something to laugh at.

Fourth, okay you don’t have to learn how to play the piano, or even the accordion, but, my God, love to listen to music. Music not only soothes the savage beast, but also calms the turbulent waters of your soul. Songs like Ben Kweller teach you how to fight back. Pete Seeger can teach you how to weave the sunshine out of the falling rain.

Fifth, life without sunshine is, well, dark. What you dream or build may be washed away in a moment but build anyway because there is simply no storm that eventually does not run out of rain. Just don't expect the water to recede if you don't learn how to swim.

Sixth, respect diversity, vegans, vegetarians, and all things for all people. But don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t have a Nathan’s Hot Dog with mustard and sauerkraut at a ballpark, or fried dough at the annual country picnic. A famous actor once said a hotdog at the ballpark is better than a steak at the Ritz. But I think a few shots of a Mimosa in Boost might give it more flavor.

Seventh, Andre Gide once wrote that only those who have been touched by the wings of death will fully understand the flight of life, but please don’t make that your employment manual. Respect both how delicate and precious life is, and integrate caution, moderation, and good temper into your daily existence.

Eighth, rich is better than poor, but worry more about the emptiness in your heart than in your pocketbook. Surviving abdominal cancer surgery requires you to first pass gas and move your bowels like a baby all over again. It’s more important than the French Onion soup on the menu. You see, little things matter most.

Ninth. The good you do comes back to you, but remember so does the bad. Keep a smile in your hearts and a song on your lips. Be comforted that in the changing fortunes of time there is always a future in computer maintenance. Or pouring drinks that make people smile.

Tenth. Eat your Cheerios. Be aware that a walk through the valley of most souls will be shallow, but walk anyway. Chemotherapy should never be taken without a Tootsie Roll lollipop or like I said, with a dog by your side.

Finally, life is not a dress rehearsal, but do not walk nude through the Beware of “Love tunnel at AOL,” and never let some guy tell you the only way he will become your friend is if you take down your pants for him.

See you at our anniversary party next week. Learn to have a lover's quarrel with the world and not your lover.


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