Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Thank You to Fellow Cancer Survivors

A great big THANK YOU to all my friends who helped support the Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association by buying my book during special times this past year. As a result of your purchases of The Opposite of Everything, it was my pleasure last month to donate $500 to ThyCa in keeping with my pledge to give a portion of my book proceeds to this essential organization. (I also added a personal donation to bring the total to what I felt was a good level). As a comedic fictional twist on my struggles with Medullary Thyroid Cancer, I hope my book brought a smile or two to both readers and ThyCa. Happy Holidays to all! 

David Kalish is author of  The Opposite of Everythingan award-winning comedic novel based on his struggles with thyroid cancer and marriage.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Auditions for my play, The Gringo Who Stole Christmas

DKAT Productions, Inc. will be holding auditions for the musical comedy I wrote, THE GRINGO WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS, to be performed at Proctors' GE Theatre in December. We are looking for Hispanic and non-Hispanic performers to fill several roles. There are 4 male roles available ranging in age from 20 to 50 years of age, and 3 female roles in the same age range. We will be casting both principal cast and ensemble roles. Auditions will be held on Sunday, September 14th and Wednesday, September 17th starting at 7:00 PM in the downstairs education space at Proctors Theater (stairs by the box office). Performances will be held on December 12-14 and 19-21, 2014 at Proctors Theater in the G.E. Theater. You will be asked to sing 16-32 bars of a song of your choice (standard musical theater or contemporary pop) and you will be asked to do a cold reading of a monologue. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact us at

Monday, September 8, 2014

My Literary Return to the Green Mountain State

I used to live in Vermont in another lifetime as a reporter for United Press International, covering state politics in Montpelier. Next week, after a two-decade career as a journalist, I head back to the Green Mountain State to build on my second career -- novelist.

I'll read from my novel The Opposite of Everything at Flying Pig Books, a quaint store in Shelburne, about 20 minutes south of Burlington. A homecoming, you might say. And I'll read alongside Rebecca Coffey, a Vermont humorist who's signing copies of her own comedic novel, Hysterical. Hope you'll join us there. If you think you can come, please RSVP to the Facebook event invite.

My novel, which took me thirteen years to write and nabbed a couple of awards this spring, is a comedic twist on my struggle with cancer and divorce. Interestingly, it's full of Jewish humor and I'll be reading from it in a book store with a decidedly non-Kosher name, "Flying Pig." The Yiddish word for non-Kosher is traif.

Here's the nutshell of my novel.  When Brooklyn journalist Daniel Plotnick learns he has cancer, his fortunes fall faster than you can say Ten Plagues of Egypt. His wife can't cope, his marriage ends in a showdown with police, and his father accidentally pushes him off the George Washington Bridge. Plotnick miraculously survives his terrifying plunge, and comes up with a plan to turn his life around: He’ll do the opposite of everything he did before. In the darkly comedic tradition of Philip Roth, THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYTHING was named Top Literary Novel in the Somerset Fiction Awards.

About HYSTERICAL: Imagine growing up gay in a household where your world-renowned father calls lesbianism a gateway to mental illness. And it is always, he said, caused by the father and curable by analysis. Now imagine that he analyzes you. Liberally salted with the lowbrow humor that may have saved her sanity, HYSTERICAL: Anna Freud’s Story is the fact-based, fictional autobiography of Sigmund Freud’s funniest daughter. Booklist called HYSTERICAL “an avidly researched, shrewd, and unnerving first novel” that is “complexly entertaining, sexually dramatic, [and] acidly funny.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

In Honor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Good morning, everyone! September is one of my favorite months (I'm obviously not a student), and it's also Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. In honor of this month, and as a thyroid cancer survivor, I'm donating half of all profits from my novel, The Opposite of Everything, to the Thyroid Cancer Survivor's Association. (ThyCa) If you are looking for something fun but deep to read, a comedy with a serious subject -- cancer and divorce -- think about purchasing this novel. (Click here) As a friend of mine says, you will be donating to a cause close to my neck!

Laughter is the best medicine, and it's how I survived what I went through. A comedic twist on my own personal struggles, The Opposite of Everything nabbed two awards -- finalist in the humor/comedy category of the Next Generation Indie Book awards, and top literary novel in the Somerset Fiction Awards.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Book Tour Hits Stride Five Months After My Novel's Launch

My book tour hits its mid-summer stride this week, veering into Albany, N.Y. for back-to-back events, as my comedic novel The Opposite of Everything celebrates its five-month birthday.  

The first event is Tuesday, 12 noon, at the Albany Public LIbrary, sponsored by -- you guessed -- Friends of Albany Public Library. Then Wednesday, 3 p.m. at the Albany Jewish Community Center, an event sponsored by Jewish Family Services of Upstate New York. (This one requires an RSVP; just click on the link). I feel relaxed going into them, but excited on another level to see who shows up and what each venue brings to the experience. Wednesday's JCC event, for instance, will be a Q&A format conducted by my good friend and fellow author Lale Davidson, a creative writing professor, and the excerpt I read will reflect my Borscht Belt humor.

I can't wait to meet my readers. It's the part of the job I love -- interacting with people who are curious about my writing process and want to learn more about how I built this book from scratch. 

So if you're around, please do drop by!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Help Bring the Capital Region's Newest Musical Comedy to the Stage

Dear theater lovers, fans of cultural inclusiveness, fellow writers, and folks with a desire to support local arts and artists (did I leave anyone out?): 

Please help support the Capital Region's newest musical comedy, The Gringo Who Stole Christmas, which I wrote. It's cast and booked for Proctors' GE Theatre in Schenectady in December, but needs your financial help to become a reality. Click on the link; donations are tax deductible and will help pay for everything from rehearsal space to set design to costumes. Remember: every little bit helps (and big bits help too). Gringo is a Latin twist on A Christmas Carol with a family friendly, hip-wiggling message of cultural inclusiveness. It's incredibly exciting for me to bring my script to life on the stage, and I'd love if all my friends joined me on this journey.

And please share this post with your friends.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Giving Back to the Cancer Group that Helped Me

The Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, ThyCa, has helped me through some rough times during my long struggle with Medullary Thyroid Cancer, and now I'd like to give something back. 

Starting today (Monday) for a week (April 14 - April 20), in honor of "Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week," I will donate one-half proceeds from sales of my cancer-themed novel to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association.
As some of you know, my novel, The Opposite of Everything, is a comic twist on my journey through MTC, divorce, treatment and new love. A finalist in the Somerset Fiction Awards, it’s available on Amazon ( and at book stores along my tour this spring ( lists tour stops).
Giving back to ThyCa is one way for me to show thanks to the organization that has helped me find an amazing community of fellow MTC survivors as well as a clinical trial for Caprelsa, which has given me a new lease on life. I also believe laughter is strong medicine, and my novel is strong on comedy.
Going forward, I plan to donate one-half of my book's proceeds to ThyCa in September, during Thyroid Cancer Awareness month, and during the week of ThyCa's annual conference, in October, when I'll be presenting alongside Bill McClain and others on the subject of Art as Therapy.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Membership in the Extremely Empathic Husbands Club

(Ruminator’s note: This essay is a factual retelling, more or less, of events depicted in my new novel, The Opposite of Everything)
ultrasound of babyFor a brief and painful time in my life, I accomplished what every man since probably Adam has tried, and failed, to do.
I felt what my wife was feeling.
Now, I can hear all you guys, and gals, scoff. A resident of Mars cannot possibly live on Venus. Men and woman are fundamentally different creatures. There are situations, ranging from menopause to morning sickness, a man cannot pretend to know, or understand. But as a cancer survivor, my situation was special. It drew my wife and me closer than you can imagine  – closer than I felt comfortable with. It deepened my understanding of not just my wife, but what I was going through.
The year was 2000. July. Two months after getting pregnant my wife, Ingrid, began to suffer morning sickness. Around the same time, I underwent chemotherapy treatment for thyroid cancer.
The morning after my first treatment, our symptoms collided. I awoke in our Brooklyn apartment, listening to the sickening whir of my portable fanny pack pumping chemo through a tube into my chest. I turned to ask my wife Ingrid to hand me my anti-nausea pills from the night table but she, for some reason, wasn’t around.
A wave of nausea washed over me. I staggered to the bathroom, made a beeline for the toilet, and loudly hurled. Just then Ingrid teetered in, looking as sick as I felt. As if to demonstrate the correct method, she vomited too, but quietly, like the Queen of England might pour tea, leaving scarcely a droplet on the rim. She wiped her lips with a tissue, and dabbed Crest on her toothbrush.
“Daniel,” she said, after gargling, in a weary voice. “Do you know the story of Jonah? He was spit out by a whale that sneezed. Just a sneeze forced him out!”
“I’m not sure … ”
“I mean, you should be afraid you may lose something you need. Like your soul.”
“I’m not following.”
“You need to vomit softly. I don’t want to hear your inner pig. You don’t know how sick I feel.”
“But I think I do,” I said, weakly.
As if on cue, my gut spasmed again, jetting the rest of its contents into the toilet.
Ingrid shook her head in disappointment and left the bathroom. I flushed the toilet, unsure where this nightmare was leading. I saw what I had suddenly become: an involuntary member of the Extremely Empathic Husbands Club. I would have done anything to quit. The last thing I frankly needed in my delicate state was retching lessons from a pregnant woman.
It was the sort of closeness I never expected or desired when Ingrid and I decided earlier that year to make a baby. Honestly, until that decision, having a child was the last thing on my mind. Ingrid, a recent immigrant from Colombia, was busy studying for her medical boards; I was a reporter at The Associated Press in Manhattan, just promoted to economics writer in Mexico City. All set to move, we’d sublet our Brooklyn apartment, changed our health insurance to international, sold our car, booked international movers. Lastly we married so Ingrid, on a student visa, could travel freely across borders with me.
tumor ultrasoundBut three weeks before we were to board a plane for another life, a routine scan revealed my thyroid cancer, until then stable and confined to my neck, had spread to my lungs. In a stunning reversal, I was forced to stay stateside for chemotherapy, instead of jetting around Latin America with reporter’s pad in hand.
Then came the clincher. Since chemo can hurt sex cells, the oncologist urged us to try to conceive before my treatment. Though I worried I’d feel too sick to chase after a kid with a leaky diaper, the doctor’s insistence won out.
Ingrid and I, wouldn’t you know it, were successful right away.
At first, I was too busy reversing my life to worry about the consequences of our success. I had to change my health insurance back to domestic, pay the subletters $2,000 so they wouldn’t sue me for breach of contract, relinquish my deposit on a car in Mexico City, and shop for one in Park Slope. I settled back into my old position on AP’s international desk, editing overseas stories by reporters stationed in exotic places that reminded him, painfully, of the one I’d given up.
Then came chemo and its clash with pregnancy. At first, I didn’t know what to make of my weird bathroom encounter with Ingrid – our odd physical convergence. What does it mean to share nausea with one’s spouse? I was still processing this weird coming together when, a week later, things grew even more awkward.
That Saturday morning, I spied a clump of hair in the shower drain. Examining it closely, I determined it was mine. As I dried myself with a towel, feeling emasculated, Ingrid strode up. Rolling up the bottom of her shirt, she revealed seven short black hairs sprouting around her naval.
“See? Isn’t it terrible? And that’s not the worst. Look.” I examined her in the fluorescent light. Fresh fuzz clung to the underside of her upper neck.
“Woop-di-doo,” I said, showing her the hairball in my hand. “Thanks to chemo, I’ve got a clump.
She drew back. “Oh David! First we share stomach problems. But now we’re becoming opposites, in a similar way.”
She touched my head as if to share her new sense of solidarity with me, but I nudged away her hand a bit too forcefully. I was frankly in no mood to celebrate. I wanted to cling onto to my last shreds of dignity, much as I wanted to cling onto my hair. “Please don’t touch. My hair’s liable to fall out if you feel it. I’m trying to hold onto what I have.”
“If your hair bothers you so much,” she said, “why not let me shave you? Lots of sexy men are bald. Bruce Willis. Agassi. No need to look like a bad lawn.”
“Sure,” I snapped, thinking of a barbershop from Village of the Damned. “But first let me shave your peach fuzz.”
Her eyes moistened with hurt.
“Don’t give me your look,” I said. “That’s what you wanted to do to me, right? Shave me? Why can’t I say the same thing to you? Fair is fair!”
She switched off the light above the mirror. “Is it fair I look like an old woman with fuzz? Is it my choice? And now you would shave me so it grows back as stubble? Like a man with—how do you call it?—five o’clock shadow?”
Ingrid stalked out of the room, leaving me to stare in the mirror. A bad man with bad hair. That’s what I look and feel like.
It wasn’t so much I didn’t sympathize with her. It’s that I had less tolerance. We went days without talking after that. I blamed her anger on pregnancy hormones. Maybe they swam inside Ingrid in tempo with the chemicals eroding my insides. Researching over the Internet I learned that “human chorionic gonadotrophin” helped nourish the fetus by diverting nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream, provoking nausea.
One night, I had a dream about lump reversal — Ingrid birthing a tumor, and a fetus surgically removed from my throat. I jerked awake, famished and nauseous, squinting into the low morning sun through the window. I left Ingrid sleeping in bed, her back to me like an icy fortress, put on a baseball cap over my patchy scalp and went outside to forage for food that wouldn’t make me gag.
My first stop was at a café on Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue, where I ordered a cappuccino, but after one sip I spilled it down a sewer grate. When I gazed up, I saw I stood in front of a bodega, overripe platanos displayed in bins. An idea came to me. I went inside and bought a loaf of Bimbo, a crunchy bread Ingrid once told me she liked. Returning to the apartment, I showed her it and uttered the only four-syllable Spanish word I knew: “Mantequilla?”
She seemed too stunned to answer; I brought a stick of butter from the kitchen and spread some across a slice for her. Shutting her eyes, she crunched down.
She blinked as if waking from a dream. “Wait till I tell my mother you’re feeding our child Colombian food!” She crunched some more. “I remember toast for breakfast every Sunday in my home. And the fruits! In Colombia, the papayas and guanabanas so ripe and sweet and large.” A tear slipped down her cheek as she ate a second slice, rambling on with nostalgia.
“You are eating,” I whispered, happily. Struck with empathy worthy of the club I belonged to, I handed her a razor. A smile lit up her face. She pulled me to the bathroom, ran the water warm, splashed it across my scalp, and sprayed foam from her leg-shaving kit into her hands. For the next twenty minutes, as she hummed a Colombian melody, she spread foam and stroked the razor across my patchy skull, tracking its bumps and lumps gentle as a mother bird preening its fledgling.
Gracias,” she said, when she was done, admiring her handiwork. “I felt I was living with a sick person. Now you’re sexy!”
bald manTaking a deep breath, I gazed at my reflection and touched my smooth glistening skull as if it were someone else’s – someone cool with the situation, not angry and bitter over it. I realized something about Ingrid. She needs to nurture her sick husband, because if she can, her helpless unborn child should be a cinch.
The unspeakable tension in me lifted a bit. I imagined my lump having a one-on-one conversation with hers, breaking the communications barrier. A tête-à-tête, perhaps. “Maybe,” I joked, “we can get a group rate on lumpectomies.”
She kissed my scalp. “Please don’t refer to our future child as a lump.”
I wasn’t done paying my dues, staying bald and nauseous for the duration of pregnancy. But five months later I got my money’s worth. Ingrid gave birth to a healthy eight-pound girl named Sophie, and I felt, in a sense, that I’d given birth too.
That was thirteen years ago. I’ve since begun an experimental drug treatment that keeps my cancer at bay, and the only hair loss I experience is age-related. Next spring my daughter celebrates her Bat Mitzvah. Of her parents’ rival growths Sophie is the one who survived, thanks to a most unusual time in my life – thanks to my membership in the Extremely Empathic Husbands Club.
David Kalish is author of the new comedic novel, The Opposite of Everythinga finalist in the Somerset Fiction Awards. Next stop on his book tour is Thursday, April 10, 6:30 p.m., at Saratoga Springs Public Library. Click here for more information.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Brooklyn Rocks! My Big Apple literary debut

Woke up at 4 a.m. thinking about my signing last night at Powerhouse on Eighth books in Park Slope.

About 35 people showed up, filling the small space to capacity. So many friends, people I haven't seen in years, in some cases decades. From Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, New Jersey, and as far away as Philadelphia. 

My voice is weak and there wasn't a microphone but none of that seemed an issue as I read an excerpt from my novel and answered really good questions. What can I say? The bookstore sold out its stock and then sold some of my personal stash. 

But one of the most touching moments for me was meeting Michelle, a fellow survivor of
 Medullary Thyroid Cancer, who's from Texas but happened to be in the area and came with her husband Sam. I'd never met her before and here I was able to share my comedy about cancer with her. She's a five-year survivor and going on strong.

Also reunited with fellow Park Slopians I hadn't seen in more than a decade. Lots of former Associated Press colleagues, and Binghamton alumni. Not to mention my family from Long Island.  

So last night was a homecoming and a literary debut I'll never forget. Thanks to more people than I can reasonably mention here. Here's some photos taken by friends, including my faithful matey, Douglas Boettner.

David Kalish is author of the new comedic novel, The Opposite of Everything, finalist in the Somerset Fiction Awards, which can be purchased on Amazon or at bookstores. For more information, click here.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Giving Something Back to the Cancer Group that Helped Me

The Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, ThyCa, has helped me through some rough times during my long struggle with Medullary Thyroid Cancer, and now I'd like to give something back. As I kick off my book tour this week, starting tomorrow night at Northshire in Saratoga, I've decided to donate one-half of proceeds from my book to THYCA during special times such as Head and Neck Cancer awareness week (in April), Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month (September), and the week of ThyCa’s annual conference in October. I will keep you updated on details. Thank you to Cherry Wunderlich at ThyCa for helping me arrange my donation.

After several operations, chemotherapy, and experimental treatment, I'm grateful to the group that's provided me with a community of survivors and helped me research and find an effective treatment. THYCA has been in the back of my mind as I've written my novel, The Opposite of Everything, a comic twist on my journey through cancer, divorce, treatment, and renewal. Here's my Amazon link, and my Web site.

I can't wait to see my THYCA friends at the annual conference in Denver in October, where I'll be presenting alongside Bill McClain on the subject of Art as Therapy.