…because I have so many friends.” I found out I have cancer 13 days ago—and have since been bludgeoned by medical testing and intel, ridden a gut-wrenching roller-coaster of emotions, and been lovingly group-groped by friends near and afar. My diagnosis: If med-tech can’t cure cancer, then friends will.
I’ve been a lake aficionado all my life, with a special connection to one Lake Okoboji, Iowa. (Is this heaven?) I spent some college summers living the college-boy dream in Okoboji—on the water all day, waiting tables long nights, growing vegetables in between, and chilling in a hidden cabin with no phone or TV (just a giant stereo!).
My last summer, I was promoted to head waiter and worked alongside a legendary,76-year-old Maître D, Mr. R., who taught many friends the brilliant headliner above. (He also knew more bad—and by that I mean good—jokes than a convention of comedians.)
Mr. R. was cantankerous and flamboyant—with countless colorful tuxes, more jewelry than Liz Taylor, a what-critter-is-that toupee, and cigars the size of baseball bats. He’d end the night with two pockets full of $20s and announce, “I’m the luckiest main in the world…because I have so many friends.”
He was an anomaly in this community, a place he only “summered” to escape Des Moines. He drove a VW bug with a Mercedes front, knew everyone wherever he went, and might show up in woman’s clothes for huge Sunday parties, even at the Omaha blue bloods’ estates. This is northwestern Iowa. Folks work hard, clean harder, and didn’t know much diversity. But nobody gave a shit, not even all the frat boys who worked the joints and waters—or they just kept it to themselves and had another G&T.
And Mr. R. was right: He had SO MANY friends.
I’ll never match his je-ne-sais-quoi, or those like him who love limelight, or especially his taste in clothes and cigars. But I’m pretty sure I have even more friends. And I look forward to collecting those $20s, metaphorically, in food and fun and freaking out (if it comes to that) while I endure my cancer daze.
Chemo kick-off tomorrow morning. Keep them vibes and prayers comin’!
Cancer: WE got this. Thanks for joining me.