Come Dance With Me

by michael friedlander

early feedback...

If you'd like your feedback included here, please e-mail me...


Jean Brook

From: Jean Brook
To: Beulah Koz

Hello my friend,

THANK YOU for sharing that diary, I just finished reading it and in one part (when he went to the hospital in the night and they were attaching the tubes etc.), I laughed so much I thought I would choke!

I did find it interesting, also how his mind works and what is important to him...

Thank you. I hope he feels better every day and returns to good health and finds happiness.

Have a lovely day



Willy Bagg

From: Willy Bagg
To: Michael Friedlander


It has been a while since we have communicated so, as I write this, I am experiencing simultaneous feelings of both shock and amusement.

This contradiction is explained, firstly, by being shocked at just having learned about your terrible diagnosis and the treatment you have subsequently been through and, secondly, by then discovering your “Diary” and being amused (and of course enlightened) by your amazing story.

While certainly not downplaying the severity of the topic, I could not help but be entertained by your unique and humorous narrative. I have a feeling that this is what you intended all along.

Your life lessons learned from Parktown Boys’ High really resonated. Following you by a couple of years in that school I can still relate to those times and, after all these years, still felt a little wave of terror pass through me when looking at the picture of our headmaster Frik Marais. The years have not diluted the effect, but I was impressed that you gleaned such important pearls of wisdom from him.

My mother passed away earlier this month (and my father only 8 months ago), so I have been feeling a little down myself. I needed something inspiring and uplifting to read and your amazing tale has done just that.

Best regards
Willy Bagg


Jill Berman

From: Jill Berman
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Mike,

I have watched you, my mother, my aunt, and countless others courageously face and fight cancer. It is my opinion, as a layperson and a nurse, that survival is all about who surrounds you, your perception of life and humor.

Your account of your treatment was honest, moving and very funny at times. I do believe that it could help and uplift those who are experiencing similar challenges.

Wish you well always.

Jillian Berman, BSN, RN, CPEN
Rady Childrens Emergency Department
Clinical Nurse III


Ian Browde

From: Ian Browde
To: Michael Friedlander

Mike hi,

Just finished your Diary and I had many reactions as I went though it. Amazed, amused, awkward, scared, enthralled, disconcerted, uplifted, uncomfortable, inspired!

I'm sure it served a therapeutic purpose for you during your horrible ordeal and I'm equally sure that many people will benefit from reading it, cancer afflicted or not.

Thank you for your authentic, unexpurgated, humorous, optimistic look from the inside. I am thrilled to have you back in action!



Joyce Cornfield-Mazur

From: Joyce Cornfield-Mazure
To: Michael Friedlander


Although I am one of those persons you haven’t seen or spoken to in a gazillion years, and might not have if it weren’t for the wonders of Linkedin, I am truly grateful that you introduced me to your diary as a means of “catching up” with you, which also served to get to know you better than I had in our law school years at McGill.

When I started reading the introduction I said to myself, then in my last meager days of vacation, yes – this is really what I want to do, read episodes about an encounter with cancer. That’s possibly a typical reaction of someone fortunate enough not to have had to deal with a serious illness: avoid the topic lest it and the gloom that is anticipated to surround it become infectious. But a few pages into the diary, I was fully engaged – at first by your wicked humour and ultimately by your life-lessons.

In fact, this is much more than a journey through the cancer “experience”, if one can call it that. It is a diary that I and, I am sure, many can relate to in general life experiences ranging from loss of loved ones, fears and frustrations in dealing with medical systems, affects upon and the importance of relationships, impacts of traumatic events upon personal identity... and how they are handled.

I admire the way you did.

I also laughed until tears came to my eyes. Maybe there is a South African sense of humour, but the laughter yours evoked is universal – and, after all, laughing is what gets one through, n’est ce pas? That and your life lessons.

Joyce Cornfield-Mazur, BCL, LLB, MBA

Dale Effron

From: Dale Effron
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Michael:

Charlie Midnight forwarded me a link to your dairy and I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for sharing such a great, inspirational and courageous story. I'm actually from South Africa myself so it was kind of a strange coincidence. :)

All my best wishes,

Dale Effren


Tony Farah

Tony was a part of our college days in South Africa. He was one of us – a group of friends that used to drink and party way too much. When I left South Africa, we sadly drifted apart.

Shortly before receiving these emails, I learned that Tony had terminal cancer and had only a few weeks to live. While I suspect my friends had deliberately kept this news from me, they had sent Tony my diary. A few days later, he called me and we had a wonderful chat.

Tony passed away on my birthday, August 10, 2013.

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From: Tony Farah
To: Michael Friedlander

July 27, 2013

Dear Michael,

I am half way through your diary and I am fascinated by your writing skills and more importantly the message that I fully identify with.

I addition, thank you for your meaningful, supportive and considerate note.

I would like to complete reading the diary and come back to you with some of my thoughts which may provide you with hopefully even more comfort.

Give me a few days.

Tony Farah


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


From: Tony Farah
To: Michael Friedlander

July 28, 2013

Dear Michael,

I've asked my daughter Simone to write this email to you, while I dictate.

Over the last couple of days my situation has deteriorated to the extent that I find it difficult to concentrate and write. I wanted to express my experience from the time I was originally diagnosed until now.

I managed to read most of your diary and what you are sharing is shining an invaluable light on a strange disease. I have no doubt it will help and encourage many.

The title that you gave your diary is quite a coincidence as from day one I handled my situation as dancing with the music. I looked at it as an adventure, not sure where the next note will come from. But none the less something that one can look at as a game.

Michael I need to cut this email short. What I do want to say to you is that, you will be fine. Lymphoma is certainly one of the curable cancers. Think of it that way & enjoy every moment here on as a gift from God.

An experience like this makes one very aware and accepting of ones mortality. This is the first building block, the rest is to surround yourself with people that love you, care about you and provide you with peace and serenity. Sorry that I am not able to say more - I'm sure you understand.

With warmest regards, love & peace,



Peter Friedman

From: Peter Friedman
To: Michael Friedlander

Dear Michael:

I read your diary with great interest as I have also gone through cancer.

The most powerful help one person suffering from any disease can give to another person who is starting on the journey to cure that disease is the sharing of the emotions and fears of that experience.

By doing this so well in your diary, I know you will help anyone who must now enter that same journey, as they will no longer feel isolated and “different”, but have a road map for their journey and to their cure.


Peter A. Friedman, CLU

John Janks

From: John Janks
To: Michael Friedlander


Hil and I were away when your bombshell arrived, and we've now been able to open and read it.

A very scary story, on which your reflections are both uplifting and poignant. I have wondered before how I would react in a similar situation. I've heard often that the more positive one can be, the better one's physiological response, but it has seemed that being positive - really, not just outwardly - must be a very difficult thing. Your diary (and what I know of you) is an extraordinary reflection of courage and strength. We wish you continued positive progress.

Given your reflection that the older the friendship link, the more irreverent you expect the response to your news to be, I feel compelled to come up with something in suitable bad taste. There are few subjects on which I really have difficulty being out of line - for eg, I've never been able to be funny or outrageous about the Holocaust - but this does seem to be one. As you point out, it's no surprise that you aren't at a loss for words about your experience, but the whole thing leaves me with a hollow feeling in my stomach and renewed admiration for you.

Please keep us informed about progress.

Love from both Hil and me.

Robin M. Keefe

From: Robin Keefe
To: Michael Friedlander

So around my night and my day I stole time to read Come Dance With Me. It was wonderful: not in the common sense of the word but in the word of wonder. It felt like an intrusion into someone’s soul, very raw and emotional. It gave me belly laughs, chuckles and pause. How unique that you are able to take a human experience and find words to articulate those things that can only be felt.

Thank you.


Charles Klass

From: Charles Klass
To: Michael Friedlander


I just want to tell you what a great job you did capturing and conveying the roller-coaster emotions, the physical pain, the fears and relief of your adventure with cancer.

I'm sure that the honesty and humor with which you describe your experience will give valuable insight to others facing this challenge. Not only will it assist those diagnosed with cancer, but also to those who love, support and care for them.

I'm so pleased that you came out on top, unlike when we play tennis.

Stay healthy.



Beulah Koz

From: Beulah Koz
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Mike,

I have just read your diary and, as someone who is a 12-year cancer survivor, I can fully relate to what you went through. I recall the initial fear of the diagnosis and then the decision that I was going to do whatever it took to get through the treatment. Now it is a distant memory.

Your account of the treatment gives a very clear description of your "journey" and also stresses that the horrors that others relate of their experiences with the disease, as well as frightening information on line, don't apply to everyone.

Your sense of humor really shines through in the many amusing incidents you write about. Laughter really is the best medicine!

I truly believe that your diary would be a tremendous resource to people who are facing the ordeal of cancer treatment and hope that it can be distributed to all who need it.

I wish you well and hope that this "dance" will soon be a distant memory to you too.



Steven Linde

From: Steven Linde
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Mike:

Nothing can be more inspiring than to learn about how your hero confronts adversity and emerges triumphant in the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

It was with terrible trepidation that I read your dispatches from a Los Angeles hospital in real time on your harrowing battle against cancer. But once I started reading, I found your cool approach, positive attitude and sharp wit both energizing and entertaining. Sometimes, I caught myself crying and laughing out loud.

I know that your story will encourage others to emulate you and not give up. For those of us who aren't suffering from life-threatening diseases, it helps us appreciate the true value of laughter and love. Dancing through your diary was worth every precious moment.




Charlie Midnight

From: Charlie Midnight
To: Michael Friedlander


I have just finished reading your Diary and found it inspirational, engrossing, instructive and surprisingly funny.

Reading about your uniquely humorous perspective and courageous attitude as you dealt with your fear and went through the painful treatment to overcome the cancer could truly help people lift the spirits of others who receive that dreadful diagnosis. Plus, the Diary is a great read.

Sincerely and with great admiration,

Charlie Midnight

Leonard Miller

From: Leonard Miller
To: Michael Friedlander


Just read your diary...

Amazing what has happened to you since meeting up at the W. The diary was captivating – beautifully written. Multiple talents my man. Hope you are back in great athletic shape.

Thinking of you.



Jake Ptasznik

From: Jake Ptasznik
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Michael,

I am so thrilled and happy to know not only that you have recovered and are well, but that you included me in your journey by sending me your diary "Come Dance with Me." In fact, with your approval, I would like to post the following on my Facebook page and email everyone I know:

"Recently my friend wrote a dairy called 'Come Dance with Me' about his dance with Cancer. I found the diary so heart-warming, bell-aching funny, inspirational and, best of all, great medicine for cancer or any other ailment one may have that I am posting it on Facebook and emailing everyone I know! Please share this gift with everyone you know:"

My very best wishes to you and Thank You!



Tony Rafaniello

From: Tony Rafaniello
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Michael,

Thanks for sharing your dance with cancer. Reminded me of a passionate tango with you taking control and battling the beast until it realised you were not going to be conquered.

Clearly you have not lost your weird sense of humour.

On behalf of hundreds of thousands of people around the world that will embark on similar journeys, thanks for being so open and willing to share your experience. Learning you have cancer is undoubtedly a very frightening experience. I can imagine it is similar to finding yourself all alone in a dark, cold jungle, knowing that dangerous predators are all around you. Your book shines light and helps remove the darkness. It gives people an insight of what to expect, replacing fear of the unknown with knowledge. Most importantly it stresses the power and importance of staying positive.

We look forward to seeing you in Australia.

Kindest Regards

Tony Rafaniello

Lauren Raissen

From: Lauren Raissen
To: Michael Friedlander


After having had a very "close call" myself this year, I understood that we are far stronger than we are vulnerable. A change can become the "new normal" and physical and emotional pain can be overcome.

Of course the most opportune time to read your diary was while I was recovering from my own surgery. Your witty, sometimes sarcastic account of what you went through was informative, funny and most inspiring. An easy read about your toughest time, but the way you wrote it made me keep reading.

So glad the worst is behind you and that your happier self is back!!



Karen Reed

From: Karen Reed
To: Michael Friedlander

Thank you Michael for this tremendous gift.

The Diary is a powerful inspiration for those going through not only the battle with cancer; but so many other major challenges in life.

Michael thank you for sharing your experience and turning it into not only your victory but a light to those who are looking for strength and a bit of humor to overcome their battles in life.



Barry Sable

From: Barry Sable
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Michael;

Just finished the dance.

Excellent, so excellent. I don't know if I ever told you that both my father-in-law and brother-in-law had brain cancer. "If you have a choice, that is one to skip." It really hit home for me and I'm going to give it to Janine to read. It will be so good for her to be part of a positive "dance."

I am so sorry it picked you, but if anyone can win it is you.

My best thoughts and wishes go to you and I hope you enjoy the tennis you will still play.




Debbie Sandler

From: Debbie Sandler
To: Michael Friedlander

Dearest Michael

Reading your diary helped those of us who love and care about you and yet live geographically far away feel close by. I shared your laughter, your frustration, your pain and your tears as you experienced them.

This book is both a means and an end; a process and a product, in the way that dance is both a verb and a noun.

Thank you for allowing us, your family and friends (both old and new), to share this life-changing dance with you! We are wiser and richer for your insights, and feel humbled by your dance with cancer.


P.S. Thought I would share another profound dance quotation with you which maybe you haven’t read. “I would believe in a God that knows how to dance.” – Nietzsche

David Sanger

From: David Sanger
To: Joel Batzofin

Just finished the diary. I really enjoyed reading it and couldn't put it down. Friedlander writes well. He is also so likeable.

Thanks you so much for sending it to me.

If it ok with you, I am going to send it to many of my friends and proudly tell them that my cousin and friend wrote the foreword.



Gary Seehoff

From: Gary Seehoff
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Michael:

An awesome, moving and meaningful read that amplifies how powerful a sense of humor, and positive attitude can be to overcome even the toughest obstacles.




Jacob Segal

From: Jacob Segal
To: Michael Friedlander


As you know, as a board member of the MTI pre-mammogram foundation, we have a keen interest in fighting cancer….I think you should be the “poster man” for Michael-the-Cancer-Fighter. You did so by articulating/writing about your daily experience and you did it with your special South African sense of humor….

I will strongly urge you to publish your diary so other people can benefit and gain courage from you.


Craig Shandler

From: Craig Shandler
To: Michael Friedlander


Reading your book, I did not know if to cry or laugh. I did both.

It was incredibly insightful and inspiring. It gave me a close and personal view of what a cancer patient experiences through your eyes.

Your book is a gift to the courageous sufferers, their loved ones and the medical profession who care for them. Sometimes we feel what is our purpose and how do we give back - You have found yours.

With much gratitude

Craig Shandler


Martin Sherman

From: Martin Sherman
To: Michael Friedlander


As you know I am usually more reserved than effusive in my appraisal of most things. However, in this case, I will make a well-deserved exception.

Your "Dairy" is a remarkable chronicle— elegantly presented, hugely humorous, courageous, and amazingly devoid of any rancor or bitterness. I have no doubt that it will be source of inspiration, strength and comfort for those afflicted by unexpected misfortune—and an entertaining read for those who are not.

In (uncharacteristic) awe and admiration



Denise and Avi Stavsky

From: Denise and Avi Stavsky
To: Michael Friedlander

Hi Michael -

Just completed reading your diary (and rereading some parts of it which I found very touching).... What a harrowing experience - admire you for handling it with such courage and humor...

I do believe that you should publish it - perhaps as a handout your oncologist can give patients going through what you went through - to alleviate their fears and to give them the encouragement to stick with the program.

Thanks, Michael, for giving us the opportunity to share the events of the past few months with you. We hope to hear good news from you from now on, please G-d.

Best always,
Denise and Avi


Shadoe Stevens

From: Shadoe Steven
To: Michael Friedlander


It's a rare person who has the strength and courage to keep their sense of humor in the face of a frightening turn of events. Not everyone has the presence of mind to keep their focus on possibilities, hope, and enthusiasm. I applaud your ability to walk through the fear and to write it all down with such wit and insight.

This book could serve as a Survival Guide for Facing the Abyss. Your clarity of purpose and hilarious descriptions of harrowing moments are empowering and grounding. I think others who suddenly find themselves in circumstances that that could easily become overwhelming and terrifying, will find strength and perspective in this book, and will be reminded of the extraordinary power of laughter and optimism.

I will recommend it to everyone and salute your courage. It's a powerful message.


Jon Strum

From: Jon Strum
To: Michael Friedlander


I hadn't heard about your recent adventure, but thank you for forwarding your diary. I have to admit that I can't help but read all of it, and so far, it's an amazing read…

I'm very happy that you decided to document your experience. So many people can benefit from reading your story...and be entertained much of the time as well!

Most importantly, I'm glad you've come through the other side of this thing. My world is a much better place when I know that you're in it.



Glen Ward

From: Glen Ward
To: Michael Friedlander

Dear Michael,

Well, I've just finished the diary and I must say that, even though I found myself feeling somewhat voyeuristic at times, due to your laudable candour throughout, it was a marvellous read. Full of hope and help, and lashings of good humour to balance the scales against harsh reality (is there any other kind?).

I can't wait to meet up again for a bite to eat and that bottle of something (hopefully the annoying taste of radioactive iron-filings will have subsided by now?), despite the disturbing thought of your turning up sporting a dusted off black and red striped blazer (I bet you still have it in a trunk somewhere) and a turban (I think dayglo orange might suit).

Just let me know when you want to venture out.

Yours caringly,


Elliot Wolf

This is an exchange of emails I had with a wonderful teacher who taught me at Parktown Boys High School in Johannesburg. This was the first time we've communicated in over 40 years...

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From: Elliot Wolf
To: Michael Friedlander

Dear Michael,

I remember you so well from my teaching days at Parktown Boys' High. You were a truly wonderful young man with great leadership qualities.

I doubt whether you will remember me - I taught English and Latin at the school before joining King David High School Linksfield in1968. I retired from the headmastership of that school in 2001, and now at the age of 78 do some fundraising to assist those who cannot afford the costs of private education.

I am truly so impressed with your diary - and am so pleased that you have managed to put that experience behind you and move on to provide others with encouragement. You are an exceptional human being and I am so proud to have been associated with someone of your special calibre in your formative years. Thank you for sharing "Come Dance With Me" - it has given me the opportunity of reconnecting with a young man whom I remember with such fondness.

Warmest good wishes.

Elliot Wolf


* * * * * * *


From: Michael Friedlander
To: Eliot Wolf

Dear Mr. Wolf (I can't bring myself to calling you "Elliot"!),

So great to hear from you...

I absolutely remember you - and only with the greatest admiration and affection... And not just from the classroom... I can remember you fondly as you umpired our U-13 and U-14 cricket games...

Thanks so much for reaching out... Can't tell you what it means to me!

Warmest regards,


my diary