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I like people who channel their problems constructively. They’re effective in making me feel like the whiner I’ve always taken pride in.


Michael Becker channels his problems constructively, and he’s a big boost. I found him in a search of cancer memoirs. We’ve exchanged pleasant emails. Have I told him I’m scouting for my own cancer memoir?


He’s a smart guy and knows the road. I don’t need to tell him. I don’t need to tell him anything.


What could I possibly add?

From anticancer


Michael D. Becker, president and founder of MDB Communications LLC, has over 20 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, C-level industry executive, pharmaceutical product developer, Wall Street securities analyst and registered financial advisor. Among Mr. Becker’s leadership positions are president, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and member of the Board of Directors for several publicly-traded biotechnology companies, including commercial-stage Cytogeny Corporation which distributed Caphosol©, a topical oral agent and prescription medical device for the treatment of oral mucositis and xerostomia.
Mr. Becker plays an active leadership role as an advocate for the biotechnology industry. He is past Chairman and member of the board of trustees with BioNJ, which is New Jersey’s trade association for biotechnology companies, and is currently a member of BioNJ.
He is also a Stage IV head and neck cancer survivor.


That last part is the key, otherwise we’d have never made contact. Never making contact is a big part of my approach to life. Tell me what I need to know and leave. I’ll figure out the rest. If I can’t figure it out fast my wife will.


Michael Becker is a player in the big field. He’s been in rooms where big decisions are made. He makes big decisions. He’s a money guy who knows the flow of capital. He’s earned my respect through our emails.


What can I add to help another man with HPV16 neck cancer? Plenty. Pep talks run around my brain all day long. From an email I sent:


I sent Pamela Tom a heads up about your work. She answers to this:
She’s got your email, too.
This is my first memoir. I’ve written four screenplays so long form isn’t as daunting as it seems. I’ve also published pieces around Portland, Oregon papers, but nothing about cancer.
So far I’m thousands of dollars into an editor who likes the material. I’m going to shop the manuscript to mainstream publishing houses before going self publishing. Here’s my take: At my lowest of low points I thought of who I’d like to get the same thing that had me down. And I couldn’t think of anyone who deserved something so awful.
My book isn’t a cancer journey as much as it is a slice of life from the 70’s and how it relates to the people I met in cancer waiting rooms, as well as mixing in my time as an Army medic and caregiver for my father in law. Tell me if we agree with my radiation tech when he said he hopes he never sees the inside of his treatment room when the machine is running. I wished I wasn’t in there every time he turned it on.
Without cancer I’d have never met cancer people on their first day of treatment, or those on their last. And heard their stories. I never would have heard the funny part of professionals dealing with this hpv cancer patient, like the time I complained how hard it all was to the social worker so she’d feel useful. Then she told me it could be worse, it could have presented in my rectum. “So my take away is I don’t have butt cancer? Works for me,” I said.
I do feel an urgency in getting my book done sooner than later. 80K feels like close to the end.


Close to the end? Why did I say that? I’m going out to 100K words just to not be close to the end of anything. For a real pep talk:


Okay Michael, you know the score and you know the time on the clock. Now forget about it. The score and time in this game don’t matter, at least your score and your time. Dwell on that and it’s game over.
I hope you understand this better than any doctor, counselor, or pen pal, repeated: We are not a disease. It’s not your problem, but dealing with it is your problem. By your actions and attitude you will make your problem other people’s problem. Instead be a solution to a common problem.
You are in a unique position to speak to the downtrodden, the beaten, those without hope. In one minute you can give a spark, shine a light, make someone laugh when they haven’t had a laugh or anything to laugh about.
My wife asked me not to explain the details of HPV16 cancer to everyone who asked. She said it was embarrassing. I agreed. It is embarrassing, but also daring. With a straight face I said, “Honey, I don’t want people thinking I’ve got smoking and drinking throat cancer. That’s not a stigma I want attached.” She shook her head with the slightest of smiles. Score for me.
We’ve got lots in common, Michael, but I’ve got over a ten year jump on you. What’s the difference between 63 and 48? I can tell you this: nothing is over until it’s over. We share the same hours in every day. Sun up to sun down, and then some, we have a chance to imprint values and meaning in our time here.
One of the biggest things I learned from being a parent, a father, a dad, is giving kids an answer to their questions, no matter how uncomfortable. If you don’t give an answer they’ll find it somewhere else.
It works the same way with us. We have questions only we can answer. This isn’t like the end of Saving Private Ryan in the graveyard where he asks if he was a good man. Be a good man, Michael.
Be the better man today than you were yesterday. Be a better Michael Becker. Pass it along.
More from anticancer club:
I was treated with daily radiation to the head/neck for 7-weeks and had three cycles of cisplatin chemotherapy (one at the start, once in the middle, and at the end of the radiation therapy). It was seven weeks of pure hell.
The post-treatment PET scan in June 2016 looked amazing – with no disease anywhere in the head/neck area or elsewhere. Unfortunately, the next PET scan in December 2016 revealed extensive disease confined to both my left and right lung.


Michael Becker and I talk about things in common without naming them.


I like Mike.




“I think everybody thinks cancer’s just about to be cured, when we have a little bit more work to do,” Becker said. “I think if we can pop that bubble or at least reset people to have dialed down expectations for some of these breakthroughs make that in the public’s best interest.”
About David Gillaspie


  1. […] on my potential competition in the memoir department, this is what amazon looked like on a google for “hpv16 cancer […]

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