TV star shares fight with cancer

Evan Handler was not supposed to survive cancer.

But he did, and he went on to write two books about how he did it, "Time On Fire: My Comedy of Terrors" and, most recently, "It’s Only Temporary … The Good News and the Bad News of Being Alive."

Handler, who played Harry Goldenblatt in the TV show "Sex and the City," was in Bexley Nov. 11 to sign copies of his new book and speak to the crowd gathered at the Jewish Bookfair at the Jewish Community Center about surviving Leukemia.
Handler was 24 years old when he was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Told that the disease was incurable, Handler then learned that 10 percent of the people who get Leukemia survive.

"So it’s curable?" Handler asked, but his doctors refused to call it a curable disease. "At some point, I decided that winning the semantic argument was not as important as being one of the 10 percent."

Reading a passage out of his new book, "It’s Only Temporary," Handler spoke of a medical system that, as he described it, "didn’t always have my best interests at heart."

Handler said there were times when he saw nurses administer time-sensitive medication to patients hours late, or give medication to a patient that had another patient’s name on it.

"There were a lot of great people (in the healthcare system)," Handler said, "but there were also a lot more bad people than we would like to admit."

One side effect of having cancer, Handler said, was that people asked him for his views on complex, philosophical issues. Handler said people often asked him if he believed in God, or if there was a greater purpose to life. Handler said all he could say was "I don’t know."

"It’s not a passive ‘I don’t know,’ it’s not a cop-out from philosophical thought," Handler said. "It just meant I was open to all possibilities … and some things can never be known."

Handler says he doesn’t endorse any particular religion, but he does believe in having faith. Handler said that hope, in particular, is important.
During his recovery from cancer, people were always warning him not to have false hope, Handler said.

"I believe that there is no such thing as false hope … because hope carries no connotations of certainty," he said.

After speaking about his diagnosis and survival of cancer, Handler signed books and talked to people who had come to hear him speak.

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