Sunday, February 12, 2012

Definitely Not for Everyone

Let's get it right out there.  This book is ABSOLUTELY not for everyone.  I really have to know a patient and their sense of humor before I recommend this book to them.  But for some of my patients, especially my male patients in their 40's and 50's, this has been the one "cancer" book that reaches them and helps them.

I've always felt that you have to find "whatever works" for each particular patient.  One size definitely does not fit all.  If raunchy humor is what it takes to connect with a patient, I will throw every ounce of "professionalism" away to connect with them. 

Here's my disclaimer....I grew up with 2 brothers.  Enough said?  In your dreams!!  I have the best brothers a girl could ask for.  I would take a bullet for either one of them.  Please don't tell them that, as it is my job as their sister to insult them, tease them, mock them, and torture them, just as they have done to me all of my life!!!

Why am I telling you this?  Because one of the best gifts my brothers (and my wonderful father) helped me to develop is my sense of humor.  I have a "guy's" sense of humor.  Everyone in our family has a "warped" or "sick" sense of humor thanks to my Dad.  When we all get together, there is constant ribbing, insults and laughter, but there is always an undercurrent of deep love.  

If you are a person who has a sense of humor that is a little "off", you know that when you find someone else who is also a little "off", it is a delightful thing.  It is like..."game on!!!"  Nothing delights me more than when I meet a new patient and discover in the course of a conversation that they are also a little "off".  I realize that this will be the start of a great relationship.

These are the folks who will love this book...people with a warped sense of humor.   If you love Howard Stern, Jimmy Kimmel, Artie Lange, Jimmy Fallon, Steve Martin, Chris Rock or South Park, then read this book.  
I loved this book.  Schimmel prior to his diagnosis with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma, was a very raunchy   comedian.  I can't say that I was crazy about him, but I always found him to be an interesting guest when I heard him on Howard Stern.  His personal life was a total disaster.  He was pretty screwed up.  When I heard him promoting this book about his experience with cancer and his subsequent treatment, I knew I had to check it out.  Why?  Because if you have read more than a few books about cancer, there is usually not a lot of humor to be found.  I couldn't wait to see what Schimmel's take on the cancer experience was. 

Here's what I know.  If you have an offbeat sense of humor before you are diagnosed with cancer, then you will continue to find humor even in the darkest of places....a cancer diagnosis.  That is what Schimmel has done in this book.  He says what people might be thinking, but not verbalizing.  When do you need a sense of humor the most?  In dark and challenging times, to help you through it.

If "F-bombs" and "guy" type humor upset you, then you shouldn't read this book.  If you are disgusted by Schimmel's comments in an early chapter about his fantasy of wanting to "bang" his chemo nurse, then quickly put this book down.  You will find it to be offensive and upsetting.  If you set out to read this book and can only focus on the raunchy humor or "vulgarity" then you will miss the ultimately beautiful message in this book.  That's right...beautiful.  There's the surprise.  Robert Schimmel's personal life may be beyond crazy.  But he fights for his crazy life and he triumphs.  His humor is incredibly irreverent.  But he is touched by his fellow cancer survivors that he meets on his journey, and his humor touches them.  

What I thought was going to just be a lot of "funny" observations about his experience with cancer, ended up   with a beautiful ending.  This book made me laugh out loud. It also had me sobbing at the end. 

After this book came out, Schimmel found himself with a new following when he went on the comedy club circuit.  At the end of every performance he would connect with the cancer survivors who came to see him.  He would stay and talk with them afterwards.  He had found a new purpose.  He helped a lot of people with this book, especially men.  

Does this mean Schimmel became an angel?  No.  Reports several years later revealed that his crazy life was still pretty crazy.  Sadly, he died a few years ago.  No, it was not his cancer that was the cause.  He was a passenger in a car which got into a motor vehicle accident.  He sustained fatal injuries.

He was human.  He had flaws.  He also had a great sense of humor.  At the end of the day, he gave something back by sharing his talents with others, which in turn enriched his own life.  He gave a great gift to many cancer survivors by writing this book. 

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