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Cancer on Five Dollars a Day* (*chemo not included): How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life
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Cancer on Five Dollars a Day* (*chemo not included): How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  239 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
In the spring of 2000, Robert Schimmel was riding high. He’d won the Stand-Up of the Year Award, his HBO special was a huge hit, and his sitcom had been picked up. And then it all came crashing down. Diagnosed with Stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he was told he would have to undergo chemotherapy immediately. The sitcom was dumped and the fire of his white-hot career star ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 26th 2008 by Da Capo Press (first published January 28th 2008)
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The Cost of Hope by Amanda   BennettCancer Schmancer by Fran DrescherThe Cancer Survivors Club by Chris GeigerCrazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris CarrCancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto
Funny Books About Cancer
10th out of 30 books — 38 voters
The Upside of Cancer by Christopher   FosterBreast Cancer at 35 by Amy BurnsFinding My Invincible Summer by Muriel VasconcellosRocking the Pink by Laura RoppeCurveball by Liz Holzemer
Memoirs by people with cancer
58th out of 74 books — 26 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 16, 2012 Christi rated it it was amazing
This book is tremendously inspirational! It makes you stop and think about life and how you deal with the curve balls that are thrown at you. It reminded me of that saying, "The true test of character isn't how you are on your best days, it's how you are on your worst days...or when things don't go right". I mean, I didn't think I would be laughing so hard (tears were a-flowin') when I was reading about a man going through chemo...he was hilarious! Of course, there were some serious moments deal ...more
Sep 03, 2008 Timothy rated it it was amazing
I enjoy this artist immensely, check his comedy too as long as you can handle profanity. This book had me cracking up laughing, shed a tear or 2, cancer certainly isnt funny, but using humor to conquer personal challenge is inspirational. I devoured this book in one sitting, comes highly recommended for a cancer patient's reading list
Apr 12, 2015 Beverly rated it really liked it
As a cancer survivor I appreciate facing a battle with humor. Robert Schimmel, who passed in 2013 I believe, wrote a book based on his battle & how humor helped him make it through.
Recommended by my husband as a great book to read, I finally gave in and sat down to read it in October or so of 2014.

He's definitely a man that knows how to make you laugh & shows you that life is too short to spend it crying.

Whether you have cancer or not, this book is a great read to help you put a littl
Sep 20, 2008 Nishani rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nishani by: Timothy
I got through this book last night even though I was quite sleepy and tired. Schimmel's book was hard to put down just because it was so funny and inspirational. It takes a special person to want to make others happy even while going through the rigors of chemo and that is exactly what Schimmel does throughout his arduous battle with cancer. I enjoyed his gutter humor in many parts of this book, it was hard not to laugh out loud at his very male humor. This book is a must read just to give a per ...more
Apr 03, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it
I heard this guy interviewed on the radio and he sounded really down-to-earth and funny despite having lost a son to brain cancer and later having cancer himself, so I thought maybe I could learn something from him about getting through the hard times. The book is honest, painful, funny -- and humor is what got him through (that's how he makes his living - he's a stand-up comic). His humor is often in the gutter, but some of it was still quite funny, and his caring for other people really shines ...more
Mar 15, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has cancer or who loves someone that does
Shelves: cancer
{Update} Well, I am glad that I stuck with it because it does get better. Starting around page 85 it seems as if he mellows out a little bit and gets into what he is learning from the cancer experience, rather than just focusing on what he fears. He makes me laugh outloud on numerous occasions, like when he states that he found the cure for cancer: Yanni. "If I beat this thing, it's because the cancer cells couldn't stand Yanni anymore. They packed up and got the hell out of my body as fast as ...more
John G.
Mar 27, 2016 John G. rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and I'm a big fan of his comedy, very off color and all about self humiliation. After his heroic triumph over cancer, he was killed in a car accident with his daughter at the wheel in 2010, sad. This is an uplifting book, he delves into the more noble aspects of humor, it's potential to heal, and to save us from an existential void. I'll keep this book as a reference for its insights into the power and mystery and value of humor and laughter.
Tommy Rivera
Jul 10, 2008 Tommy Rivera rated it liked it
My friend Matthew got me this book and I read it as soon as he gave it to me.

It made me laugh out loud several times. And it made me feel like crying a few times too. In so many ways I could relate to Robert's feelings and what he was going through - but that was mostly as far as attitude and humor go.

My physical journey just doesn't compare - his was much worse than what I have encountered so far. It made me really think about how "lucky" I am. People think I'm looney toones when I say someth
Sep 18, 2008 Meg rated it liked it
This is the kind of book I'm glad I read, but would have difficulty in recommending to anyone. If I'd known beforehand about Schimmel's crass sense of humor and foul language, I probably wouldn't have read it either. Anyway, I appreciate Schimmel's openness and honesty as he shares his journey through chemotherapy. He shares some beautiful, basic lessons for life that all of us should learn. It can be easy to become complacent and take life for granted. (Spoiler alert) I cried when I read that e ...more
Nadine Toussaint
May 28, 2012 Nadine Toussaint rated it it was amazing
A good friend of mine recommended this book. His girlfriend is currently going through chemo and he has been trying to find ways to deal with it.

I wanted to read this book because I know people who are fighting cancer and people that have lost their life to cancer. I wanted more insight on what they're going through.

This was an excellent read. For one, it's a quick read - love that. It's funny, honest, and vulgar (yes, vulgar but awesome).

If you're easily offended, this book isn't for you. If y
Mar 22, 2008 Rie rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Rie by: Christopher Dornan
My husband read this book in an afternoon, sitting at the library. He told me that the book made him laugh out loud, and then made him cry. Schimmel is one of his favorite comedians... and wanted to read the book, to preview it, thinking we would get it for his mom, a cancer survivor. I read it this evening, and it immediately became a favorite. I laughed long and hard, and appreciated every word...because they were his. It's his story, told his way, and it's a beautiful one. It's honest, raw, h ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Andrew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really like Robert Schimmel standups, so I thought I should try the book, there will be some jokes and stuff in there. Well there might have been a joke or two in there, and not that good either. The rest of the book is how he vomits, does "bla bla bla" with other people and all that other boring stuff you can find in your own life. It might be useful to read for someone who has cancer and has to go through a treatment, but even then just better watch one of his standups rather than read a boo ...more
Aug 19, 2010 DaraB rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While he never really explained how to live with cancer on only $5 a day, Schimmel made an impoosibly hard time in his life and made it bearable, for himself and others dealing with the same issues. A good read for those who have cancer and those whom are close to them, but each illness is differnt so it won't resonate completely with all. It protrays the worst of the worst though, and gives you, the reader, a sense of accomplishement when he overcomes everything. Age 16 up.
Christina Lazic
Oct 01, 2010 Christina Lazic rated it liked it
Recommends it for: cancer patients and their loved ones.
A journey through a life filled with tragedy and a harrowing, yet successful cancer treatment. Schimmel's recounting of his emotional responses and physical reactions to his cancer and chemotherapy are alternately hilarious and terrifying, and I found myself feeling deep empathy with him.

Cancer patients and their intimates may want to wait until the treatment is over before reading this book, depending on how much they want to know about just how bad it can get.

Apr 15, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
Recommended to Diane by: Nancy
Robert Schimmel certainly is a wonderful example of how a positive attitude and laughter can make a bad situation better.

I appreciated his honesty when he realizes that sometimes, despite all the positivity and love you can surround yourself with, it isn't always enough.

A short list of the important things in life concludes the book.

Fact for the day: There are wigs for the pubic region. See "merkin."
Mar 06, 2013 Candace rated it liked it
Unfortunately, I generally like this kind of book as it makes me think, allows me to project myself into the main character's place without actually having to have cancer. I actually think that it is a pretty good description of how things go...we all think that our mortality is such a special, exceptional thing except that it isn't. That's the world ends, not with a bang but with a whimper.
May 05, 2009 Josi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is a great book because Schimmel adds his humor to an awful situation. While I was reading this book I was fighting my own battle against lymphoma so it was very hard to read about the horrible side-effects of treatment that Schimmel went though. But overall this was a great book to read to get a perspective on what it is like to have cancer in today's world.
I got this book because of the subtitle: how humor got me through the toughest journey of my life. I know I need some laughs, and I guess I thought this book would be funny--an idea that seems completely insane in retrospect. Or maybe it would be funny to me at other times in my life. Right now, though, all it's done is made me cry a lot. Back it goes.
Oct 07, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
Robert Schimmel is a riot! He's been through some serious stuff in his life, yet through it all he keeps an amazing wit and sense of humour about it, and more importantly, he uses that humour to make others feel better (at a time when one would suspect he'd prefer to focus on making himself feel better). Go read this book - I can't recommend it enough.
Oct 10, 2011 Monica rated it really liked it
I liked this book very much. Indeed, I laughed and cried. It has some vulgarity, but it's Schimmel so I expected it. It provides a wonderful perspective on cancer from the man's point of view. I felt this little biography on cancer from a comedian's perspective is well written, interesting and engaging. And I am not a man or a cancer patient.
Feb 24, 2010 Theresa rated it liked it
This was a good book. I had to read it in small doses because it makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Also, if you or a family member has died of cancer it can bring all those feelings back during that time so that is why I had to read it in small doses. It's a good read though
May 21, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Bought it for my dad for his upcoming b-day, since we both love Schimmel, and had to read it first! Quick read, very funny, touching and heart wrenching. However, it does have a lot of profanity and crude humor, keeping in line with his typical stand-up routine.
Susan Hester
May 19, 2011 Susan Hester rated it liked it
Cancer from a man's point of view, especially focusing on the sex (or lack thereof) aspect of it. Actually, he is very funny in places, finds the humor in the fear. Ironically, he died in a car accident which goes to show if you've had cancer, you're not always going to die from it.
Jul 27, 2011 Pmoore66 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burned through this in a day just after my first chemo infusion. He goes through a lot and finds humor in the situation. I did follow his personal antics, liver disease and eventual demise which is still looming for me 3 yrs in remission. RIP Schimmel. You made me laugh out loud.
Oct 31, 2011 Christopher rated it it was amazing
A truly inspiring story of a man's will to live despite his diagnosis of cancer. While Schimmel is a comedian by trade, this book is not all jokes and laughs. He does share what seem to be some of his lowest moments and helps readers understand his struggles
Jan 10, 2009 Reeny rated it really liked it
During a trip to NYC in Feb 2008, I saw Robert's stand-up performance. The show was a riot and on the way out, I got an autographed copy of this book. It was a fast, easy read and although it is about his battle with cancer- it was great!
Mar 02, 2009 Candi rated it it was ok
After reading the first few chapters, I remembered that I've heard some of the author's standup and was underwhelmed. The book itself isn't terrible -- there are a few genuinely funny and/or moving passages -- but overall, nyeh.
May 06, 2014 Richie rated it it was amazing
While I do not know anyone who has cancer, despite all of Robert's trials and tribulations, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I found this book thanks to goodreads.
Kari Barrett
Oct 15, 2009 Kari Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Histerical! I have a close family member who is currently dealing with cancer and this book is a perfect example of how humor is a necessity in the defeat of cancer. I laughed and cried.
Jun 17, 2011 Patty rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! this got me through and helped me understand what my father was going through while he faught his horrible (and sadly lost his) battle with cancer.
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“Because when you’re laughing, there is no other emotion in that moment except for joy.” 19 likes
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