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Cancer and Sobriety

33+ Years Clean & Sober, 5 Years Cancer-free

Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

Today, I’m going to keep this story short and sweet.

Despite having two potentially fatal illnesses, I’m still here!

And I am SO HAPPY that I am.

I love to be alive. Despite challenges, disappointments, and fears about the state of the world, I LOVE being here. What a gift it is to be a human on this earth.


I faced the reality of having a progressive, fatal illness nearly 34 years ago. That illness is alcoholism. In my case, drugs and tobacco went hand-in-hand with the booze.

Despite all evidence, my denial was impossibly thick. I drank and smoked and snorted and took pills to a prodigious degree, for years.

I became more and more troubled as it went on.

Finally, I hit bottom and asked for help.

The gates of Hell were opened, and I was let out. I’ve stayed free of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco for nearly 34 years. Unbelievable.

I don’t miss any of that stuff, at all. Nope. I love to be present in life for all of the ups and downs.


I faced the reality of a cancer diagnosis in January 2018.

My wife was by my side, and with me all the way. My Mom and my sisters were deeply involved and supportive, as well as my best friend and my other close friends.

This was a whole different thing. With sobriety, it was largely up to me if I wanted it badly enough or not. Did I want to do the things necessary to build a strong foundation and continue to work at it? It turned out that I did, and I do.

But the cancer wasn’t treatable by me. I needed professionals and guidance. We got it. My wife came up with a key connection at just the right time who offered great advice.

I had the option of going for surgery or radiation. First, I received great advice at a group of people who were dealing with the same cancer.

Then, a friend made a great recommendation to a radiation doctor who helped me to decide that I would be best served by having surgery.

And, finally, I was directed to the doctor who did my surgery.

We’re fortunate to live in New York City, where some of the best doctors and facilities in the world are located.

5 years ago today, June 8th, 2018, I had surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.

It was a success. No recurrence so far and none is expected. I have to take this a day at a time, just like being sober, but the outlook is excellent.


The day my wife and I saw the doctor who explained the diagnosis was a horrible day. The doctor did a bad job of clarifying the degree of cancer, and how to best understand what I was looking at. His explanations were vague. For a doctor who does biopsies regularly and has thie type of conversation numerous times each year, he sure wasn’t any good at it.

That said, I’m sure it’s a rough day for everyone else who has that type of meeting, also.


The amazing thing is that I never, for one second, considered having a drink or a drug to alleviate my fears. I’ve learned that that would only make it worse. I’d still have cancer, and if I drank I’d have that gorilla on my back also.

But the fact is that it never crossed my mind. That’s nothing short of a miracle for an alcoholic to not think of drinking as a way out.


I can only end on a note of gratitude.

I’m grateful for all of the support that I’ve received on both fronts.

I’m grateful to be here, cancer-free, and clean-and-sober.

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