Life Isn’t A Hallmark Moment

At some point today during a scroll through Facebook I found a post about National Cancer Survivor’s Day – which I somehow thought was in June (it is).  The post was one of those copy and paste to status, so no telling when it was actually written.  But it made me think – we’re all kind of cancer survivors (at least in my house) and life isn’t a hallmark moment to be commemorated like that.

Hallmark as a euphemism for many industries – creates days and events (Santa Claus and  Valentine’s Day are the two that leap to mind first) that we commemorate and sometimes even celebrate.

I’m not sure cancer fits into that mold.

A good friend of mine and someone I’ve worked with for the last eight years or more recently beat cancer.  He and his family should celebrate that accomplishment and cherish all that life has to offer.

In the same way my friend is a survivor – I think the girls and I are survivors too.  We not only survive – but thrive in the world after Risa passed away from cancer.  In fact – I even consider the 12 years Risa battled (and beat) cancer as surviving.

I don’t think any of us think of life as a Hallmark moment – instead we embrace every day and celebrate the day for all we can accomplish and use it to prepare for tomorrow.

So let the first Sunday of June, National Cancer Survivor’s Day, be another day to celebrate the battle we all do with cancer (and all of the other diseases) and save the Hallmark moments for times you want to cherish.

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Cupid Undie Run Time

From the 2014 Cupid's Undie Run in NYC

From the 2014 Cupid’s Undie Run in NYC

Now that the calendar has turned to 2015, and the temperatures in the Northeast will begin their annual drop to the single digits to teens, we’ve reached Cupid Undie Run time.  Yes, that annual mile or so scamper through New York City’s streets clad in underwear.

This is the third year I’ll be doing this fun run – which raises money to help fight childhood cancers.

Anyone who knows the story of my family knows how cancer changed it forever.  While it was not childhood cancer, I can think of no place better to wage the battle on cancer than fighting for  children who have their lives in front of them and are battling cancers so early in life.

There was nothing more important to Risa than our children – and making sure they were raised healthy and in a loving home.  I do my best to supply the latter, and do all I can to assure the former.

It’s a fun day in the city – and I encourage everyone to sign up and strip down.  Check out my Instagram (and feel free to throw a like or follow) if you want to see some of last year’s fun, or track this year’s event next month.

And if you can’t make the run (we’ll step off on February 7th) – I hope you’ll support the cause.  Click on my contributions page.  Dad the Single Guy will match the first $250 worth of donations made.

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SHHHH Can You Keep A Secret?

Big news, but its a secret OK?

My next book is about to be available on any and all e-readers.

UPDATE: You can now download the full book on your Kindle.  Support for all other readers is pending.

UPDATED (AGAIN): You can now also download the full book on your Nook.  Support still pending for iPad and others.

Almost two years in the making, The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning is the title of my book and also a blog I posted on December 4, 2010-the day Risa passed away.  From a pure marketing perspective for a blog, that title is awful.  For me though it was very descriptive of what I felt at the time and how things have unfolded over the 24 months since that day.

So, if you just can’t wait, feel free to get a preview here.  Expect me to be nauseatingly in your face once the book is fully available.

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The Reluctant Expert

As we move through life we all gather experiences that help us from who we are, and in many cases can give us a level of expertise in diverse areas.  While we may not be recognized world leaders in a subject, when you get into your social circles, if you think about it some, no doubt you will have an expert on cooking, an expert on baking, an expert on banking and very likely an expert on cancer.

I admit, expert may be a little strong-perhaps its expertise (at least experience).

But what is not over-stated is when you need help, advice or insight into something you will reach into your social fabric and find the person whose opinion you respect and who you think will give you guidance to get you through an event, point in life or a moment in time.

While I like to talk about technology, social media and mobile; the area of expertise I am more often asked about is being there to support a partner with cancer and how to pick up the pieces when cancer strikes.

In fact, if it were not for the last two items on my list above you would not be reading this blog.  Still, it’s not quite expertise I feel blessed to have.  I do feel blessed in some way to be able to positively share my experiences and who knows perhaps even help someone who is facing the decisions I was forced to face.

The reality though is that every situation is just slightly different.  And every situation has different factors that weigh against it-making even real-time experience in my mind somewhat suspect.  Still, I know it has a calming effect to know someone has walked the walk ahead of you.

Over the last month or so, I’ve offered some thoughts and insights to four different people who are setting out on the post cancer diagnosis path.  One is a single woman, two are young families and one is a single guy.  Half of the people are friends of friends the others are friends of mine.  It does not make the advice any different, it perhaps changes slightly the way it’s delivered though.

But I still have this nagging feeling that maybe I should not be in that business because the factors are different, and there is no doubt the outcomes will be different in some way, shape or form.  Still there are the contestants: the treatment’s effects on patient and supporters; a feeling of helplessness when you ask a doctor what you think is a black and white question and get shades of gray as an answer; the stark reality that no matter what the outcome is things will be changed.

While I’d love to be known as an expert in the areas I have a passion, perhaps my calling is to be the reluctant expert in living day-to-day and just making today better than yesterday-because tomorrow is too far away to worry about.

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A Lemonade Moment

Mixed into the hustle and bustle of the weekend that was came news that the mother of two girls my kids went to camp with this summer passed away after a long battle with breast cancer.  That’s a lot of similarity to my house-and I spent a lot of time on Friday trying to figure out if or how I would tell the kids about this bit of news.

One of the nice things about the camp they went to is the family feel that it has-and the way they sustain it through the winter.  Barely a month after coming home the girls have been in touch with many from camp, I’ve been on the phone with the director and assistant director-it’s more than just a business venture for the camp.

And reality is that is part of what sold me that this was the right place to send the girls.

Then came the news-and a flurry of email activity among parents about how to coordinate a gift from the girls.  In the background to that was my mental tug of war over how to handle this.  I could easily send a card from the family and contribute for the gift-but that’s not how I’ve handled any of this with the girls and there was no need to make a change now.

First I told 8.5.  The younger sister was in her bunk and they were friends.  She handled it well, and even volunteered to be there for her friend if she needed someone to talk to.  It’s not an exclusive club-but at that age knowing you are not the only one is important.

Then I told 11.0.  In her case, the older of the girls is a couple of years older, so 11.0 knew her but they weren’t close.  Still my daughter wanted to extend the offer to be there for her friend-as someone who has gone through the affects cancer can have on a family.

For me, it’s a proud moment-albeit tinged with sadness.  I never wanted what my girls went through to define them-the same as I tried not to let my father’s death when I was young define me.  Rather, I want their experience to be part of their person-and for them to be able to use what they lived through and what they survived as a way to help them in life.

In this first test-I would say they did a great job, and I am proud.  I”m just not sure if I can tell them just how proud I am.

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