As a cancer patient, what is the worst thing we fear? Being told we have a recurrence or another cancer. So what if between the ages of 29 and 40 something you were told you had cancer five different times? Meet Chef Eric LeVine. He has done this.
I saw him on the Food Network's Chopped a while back and heard him say he had cancer five times. I thought it was significant at the time but not how significant. If you think about it, how many people do you know that have had cancer five times? I spoke at a local senior center last year and a gentleman who had to be in his mid 80's said he had had cancer five times. But he was probably twice the age of Chef LeVine. Its not a common thing.
So Chef LeVine has turned it around and tries to pay it forward by helping family members cope.
"So I realized that the best way for me to use this knowledge - my experience - was to pay it forward. Not with cancer patients, but with their families - teaching them how they can help their family member, the cancer patient."
He talks about people who call constantly 'how are you doing?' and what a drag it is for the patient. It is a constant reminder about cancer and not helping you avoid thinking about it. (Its almost as bad as the people who ask you why you aren't getting the same treatment as their cousin's neighbor's dog walker's hair dresser's uncle who had a different cancer 20 years ago.)
One recommendation I do disagree with him is yes talk to the cancer patient about the crap going on in your life. I would much rather hear someone tell me about their witchy boss, or idiot co-worker, or evil in laws, or annoying children/neighbors, etc than to have them ask me how I am feeling.
However he has been through the cancer roller coaster five times and is still here. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes but he is still here which is the really important part. When I am next in New Jersey, I will make an effort to eat in his restaurant and maybe even meet him.