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Michael D. Becker wrote his cancer memoir titled ‘A Walk With Purpose.’


By all accounts he’s lived a life with purpose, so the walking with purpose stuff is expected. He walks with purpose, so do you.


So do I. We all walk with purpose. If not we’re just wandering around aimless, without purpose, which isn’t a bad thing in itself.


Like the Seventies poster we all saw that encouraged us to ‘love someone enough to set them free, and if they return then it’s true love,’ a terminal cancer future might be a good time for that walk.


I also fan on ‘All who wander are not lost.’ So cancer or not, walk it out.


Reading reviews of A Walk With Purpose on Amazon are wonderful. Of course it takes a real jerk to rag on a writer looking at the end of their life on a short time line. But they’re out there, even for a cancer memoir.




(True or not, doesn’t this review make you want to read the reviewer’s book? Are his writing and editing rich? Are his mechanics of writing up to industry standards? A guy with shitty cancer writing his life story doesn’t get a pass from this jackassed contributor.)
(Memo to reviewer: It’s a memoir, a cancer memoir. I get this all the time, the question of, “why is everything about you.” Memoir writers by definition write about themselves. This isn’t up for debate. If you review a book, maybe it’s a good idea to know something about the genre?)
(Nothing like a poor reader finishing up with the classic well wishes after the classic F U. Where are the ‘thoughts and prayers?’)


Like all works of art, a negative review is a draw. Is it really what a hoser reviewer said it was? Probably not.


Mr. Becker is a lot of things. One of them is not playing guitar in Steely Dan. That was Walter Becker.


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The other Becker, Michael Becker, wrote his book from the inside. He knows his cancer, but it’s not the book he needed to write. I’ll fill in the gaps with my own cancer memoir, “Licking Cancer, The Full Response.”


Instead of detailing the technical side of disease and treatment, I go a step further.


Amazon review of A Walk With Purpose:


Michael Becker has done a huge service to the biotechnology industry by carefully documenting his unique career spanning both Wall Street and the biotechnology sector’s early days. The book’s subjects include prominent scientists, venture capitalists, corporate leaders, and attorneys in the history and business of early biotechnology. Drawing upon public corporate records and personal experience, Becker constructs an engaging historical account of Cytogen Corporation – one of the early pioneers in the field of monoclonal antibodies. In addition to being an important addition to the history of biotech, “A Walk with Purpose: Memoir of a Bioentrepreneur” delves into Becker’s private life and illness, battling terminal head/neck cancer. Highly recommended.


Mr. Becker separates himself from ‘average cancer patients’ because he’s above average? Or because that’s the story he needs to tell? Well, it both. Sharp readers will enjoy learning more than they bargained for from the reviews I’ve read.


What will they learn from Licking Cancer when it comes out? I’m taking it further inside, like inside the inside. For example, Mike is not a bald man. He’s chemo bald.


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Like Mike, I figured I’d be chemo bald too. I like my hair the way Rod Stewart likes his hair, big and tall. I didn’t want to see it on my pillow one day, so I visited a barber shop and came out with the worst haircut of my life. On purpose.


When I saw how it looked I wanted to shave my head, which was the plan until I got a second opinion on cancer treatment and learned I wouldn’t lose my hair after all. Because of my hair plan I ended up with the worst haircut of my life during a particularly bad time.


Looking in the mirror made me laugh every time, like ugly decorations on a nasty cake scorched in a microwave oven. I considered a mullet wig just for fun.


About sharing the details of treatment in a cancer memoir? I had a doc poking my shit with a needle and asked if I had a good view of his work. I said unless the Oregon Ducks are in there playing for national championship I don’t need to see a thing.




“I really like this passage of your book: “I don’t usually know how to be anything other than intense. I’m always searching, always questioning, always trying to find the meaning in everything.”

I got into some things I would have discounted prior to my diagnosis: I’ve been getting acupuncture. I do sound therapy. I took a Transcendental Meditation course. Transcendental Meditation has allowed me to accept two facts about life: One is that we’re all going to die and the other is that we just don’t know when or how. That has really helped me. Maybe my cancer is going to kill me, or maybe I’m going to get hit by a bus tomorrow. Who knows? But the question isn’t, “Will I die?” It’s, “With the time that I had, did I do something meaningful?”
And I feel at peace because I’ve gotten an awful lot done in 48 years. Sure, I’d love 25 more years with my wife. I’d love to see my kids mature and get married one day. But after I finished the book, I realized I’d had a full life. And now I get the chance to help save some lives. This is more challenging for my wife and my kids because they want me around forever, but I just can’t be upset or bitter or remorseful. My life has meaning. If I had another year to live, I wouldn’t travel to the Arctic or become an artist; I’d keep doing what I’m doing.”


Emotional control, keeping that stuff in check is important, but more important to loved ones than the patient. Here’s my trick: with every breath in I silently say the words, “breathing in.”


With every exhale I say the words, “breathing out.”


I do this until something else crowds it out, like the thought of cancer. Which I acknowledge, then get back to the breathing part.


It all helps on a walk with purpose.
About David Gillaspie


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