Saturday, February 16, 2019
Book Review: 'The Cancer that Died of Laughter' by Eyal Eltawil
A buoyant slice of life and humor
Israeli author Eyal Eltawil is also an actor, screenwriter and stand up comedian. At age 31 he was diagnosed with metastatic Ewing sarcoma, recovered, and shared his experience both in this book and as a coach and speaker about the introduction of humor not only in the face of severe illness but also in corporate life. Eyal lives in Herzliya, Isreal.
In his Introduction Eyal shares the facts of his illness and his response to it: ‘Several months ago, I started having back pains. The pain became worse from day to day. As a former cancer patient, the slightest thing causes panic, especially the thought that the cancer might recur. The minute I sneeze at a family dinner, my mother’s on the phone, calling an ambulance. And then just for the hell of it, she also checks the cost of graves. Since I recovered, I’ve had regular checkups, which include chest stomach and pelvis CTs every three months. All my results have come back clean, making me jump for joy every time. When the pain became intolerable, I went to the doctor, who recommended a bone scan and an MRI. My oncologist received the results and, when he called, I understood by the tone of his voice that there was no reason for optimism….Several years ago, I had cancer. I was diagnosed with Stage 4m, which is the final stage. The next stage is where you meet God for a cup of coffee. Many parts of my body were filled with metastases, Nevertheless, against all odds, I won. Apart from all the conventional and alternative treatments I went through, what helped me most was humor and laughter. There is nothing stronger, or more powerful, to eliminate fear and facilitate healing – and which helped me look at the sickness and deal with it – than a healthy laugh to release all anguish.
With a plethora of fine comic line drawings Eyal accompanies us through his various stages of coming to terms with his diagnoses – and it all ends up with utilizing laughter and jokes that have allowed him to survive and triumph. Plenty of humor is shared, but the overriding response is one of respect and admiration for this gifted man’s message.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.