Come Dance With Me

by michael friedlander

a diary about laughter, hope and
some life-lessons in facing cancer...

How I came to write this diary…

This started out as a diary about my dance with cancer, but it soon became a diary about life, laughter, hope and balance. The diary also became about some extraordinary life-lessons I really wanted to share...

Starting at the beginning...

In early February 2013, I thought I might have cancer. My doctors had found a suspicious lump on my neck and decided to take biopsies. To say that I waited for the results with more than just a little trepidation would be a monstrous understatement. Unfortunately, it turned out I was right: the lump was a lymphoma...

With that news, I somehow had to get my mind around the unhappy prospect of facing months of chemotherapy. A friend, who was a doctor, suggested I keep a diary. He persuaded me that, if I agreed, this might be therapeutic and enormously helpful for me. I agreed...

What made the idea of writing the diary almost perversely irresistible to me was that, as I started it, I had absolutely no idea how it might end. As you may already have guessed, my mind has always worked in strange and mysterious ways...

The process...

I then began what was essentially a conversation with myself. This soon became an almost magical journey with all kinds of unanticipated twists and turns.

Strange as this might sound, in writing about the emotional and physical rollercoaster I was riding, the most daunting challenge I faced was to identify what I was actually feeling.

This was when I first realized that this wasn't really a diary about my dance with cancer at all. Instead, it was about life and the remarkable value of laughter, balance and remembering some life's lessons.

As I went through the process, the only continuing mystery to me was how I managed occasionally to find anything even vaguely amusing to write about. That I sometimes did will forever remain a mystery to me. For years, people have been telling me I've a strange sense of humor. For years, I've thought they were quite unkind. Now, after all those years, it seems they were all probably right! And you've no idea how difficult this is for me now to admit!

What the diary is...

The diary simply lays out what I was experiencing as I experienced it — and what I was thinking as I thought it. The diary is therefore quite simply a personal account in which I tried my very best not to become too obsessed with the cancer. This is why it also contains an account of thoughts unrelated to the cancer.

Because I'd never read a similar diary, I had no idea where to begin or how to approach it. I therefore decided to begin by introducing myself and by writing about a friend with the same disease. I then just kept going, writing an entry every two weeks on the day before my next chemo session. This was because my head was always clearer the day before each session.

As I wrote each entry, I would look back at the previous two weeks. I would recall what had consumed my thoughts and time. So, for example, when I thought of ideas and issues that weren't related to my cancer, I would still write about them because this was what I'd experienced. And the discipline of having to do this really helped me.

As I finished the diary, I began to know with a some certainty that this indeed had been almost magically therapeutic for me. I also began to believe that others facing cancer might well benefit from keeping a diary too...

What the diary isn't...

What the diary doesn't offer any answers. It never pretends to suggest how one should face cancer — other than perhaps to suggest that a positive and constructive mindset and a hearty dose of laughter worked for me. The diary never pretends to suggest what treatment options might be better than others.

Finally, it doesn't chronicle in grotesque detail any doom and gloom about the cancer itself. I thought that too self-indulgent and self-defeating for my purposes...

 

My digital diary as a gift...

After finishing my diary, I made an early decision. I decided to give it away as a digital gift to cancer organizations and patients and their families — free, gratis and for nothing. And if cancer organizations wanted to raise funds by using it, this was just fine with me.

But why a gift? Well, this seemed to me to be the right thing to do. I also wanted to stay on the good side of whatever mystical powers were out there that might be deciding the extent of my remaining shelf-life.

So far, those powers have looked exceedingly kindly upon me, so why annoy them now??? I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid...

 

Three enduring hopes...

My first enduring hope that my diary will indeed help anyone facing cancer and their families and friends — and that it might perhaps even entertain some. And, if this would encourage others to write their own diaries and share them, I'd be delighted...

My second enduring hope is that the life-lessons I've shared in the diary will resonate and will encouraged readers to share their own life experiences. Overall, what my experience dancing with cancer has taught me has been quite profound.

Finally, my third enduring hope was related to my discovery of one of the lessons of my African heritage. This was the lesson of Ubuntu — the African concept that we are who we are because of those around us. I found this quite profound—and enormously helpful in facing my cancer and life's other challenges. My hope was that others might benefit from this too..

 

 

A request....

So, here's a request:

If you like the diary, PLEASE share it. PLEASE also think about contributing to your favorite cancer charity or even volunteering to help them – or both!

And, if you don’t like the diary, PLEASE think about nevertheless contributing and volunteering. After all, if you don't like my diary, it’s not their fault... :-)

 

 

This site…

This site is obviously still in development. It will evolve over time into something more sophisticated that hopefully will allow you to participate and post your comments and thoughts.

I created and designed it myself – so, please, no comments about the web designer! For now, it’s simply a vehicle to allow you to access and share the diary, which I truly hope you'll enjoy. But, whatever you happen to think of it — and if you want to share your thoughts, please be kind!