Meet Your Cell Mates: Benjamin Rubenstein

Meet Benjamin Rubenstein

Benjamin Rubenstein, YA cancer author and Cancervention panelist

Benjamin Rubenstein, YA cancer author and Cancervention panelist

Meet Benjamin Rubenstein, a 31 year old influential motivational speaker and healthy living guru. As a strong and optimistic individual, Rubenstein has overcome many obstacles. Through his attitude and outlook on life, Rubenstein has forged through the hardships of a broken finger. He has also managed to become a cancer survivor. That’s right, I said cancer survivor.

At the age of 16, Rubenstein received the unfortunate news of a cancer diagnoses. For months, Rubenstein had suffered from a persistent hip pain that he often shook off and continued on about his normal and daily life.

I had pain for about 6 months before I finally saw a doctor, and there were several scans done when they finally told me what it was,” said Rubenstein. “It was growing in my L ilium, which is my left hip bone. My cancer was called Ewing’s Sarcoma.”

Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in bones or soft tissues, is a childhood cancer that occurs in approximately three per 1 million children a year and makes up about 1.5% of all childhood cancers, according to the United States National Library of Medicine.

After his initial diagnoses, Rubenstein endured 10 months of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation, and the surgical removal of his hip bone. Treatment was over, and Rubenstein had overcome a major obstacle in his life before he was to face yet another one.

About a year and a half later, he would soon be back for treatment after receiving a second cancer diagnoses.

One of the chemo drugs I had received to treat the bone cancer had caused a second cancer, which was Myelodysplasia,” said Rubenstein. “That’s a cancer of the bone marrow, so I needed a bone marrow transplant. I got that transplant in April 2003.”

The transplant was success, and the teenager was now cancer free. Since then, Rubenstein has been cancer free for almost 12 years.

Throughout his journey as a teenager who went through all that comes with a cancer diagnoses as well as treatment, Rubenstein never sought out support groups due to a mindset almost all, if not all, young people embody.

I had this constant teenage mindset where I thought I was invincible and didn’t really think I needed a support group,” said Rubenstein. “So I kind of pushed the cancer community away.”

Although he had been several years removed from cancer, as a young adult cancer survivor, Rubenstein had finally gotten the community support he had never received at an organization called First Descents.

First Descents offers young adults, ranging from ages 18 to 39, outdoor experiences and events to those who have been impacted by cancer. Physically, Rubenstein was able to participate in outdoor activities such as kayaking and surfing with a small group of young adults, but emotionally it gave him a chance to refresh the perspectives he had gained as a cancer survivor and also gave the opportunity to discuss things he would not have otherwise been able to discuss.

“It’s not the same thing you think of when you think of support groups, but it acts in similar ways in that it refreshes my perspective and it is helpful to relate to people who had cancer,” said Rubenstein.

Whereas people outside that community can’t really relate, you know they don’t really understand our struggles and what we went through.”

From his experiences, Rubenstein has found that support groups, such as First Descents and YACC, are an important part for anyone’s journey who has had, and even overcome, a cancer diagnosis.

First Descents made me realize that there’s a lot of rewards in being part of a community,” said Rubenstein. “I think that’s what Cara and Dakota have done, bringing that community to areas and people who have never had it before and I think that’s great.”

Rubenstein will be on the patient panel at this year’s upcoming Cancervention, which is being held on Saturday, April 18th at The HUB at Cira Centre (2929 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA). He anticipates speaking about his life as a young adult cancer survivor and the how he has benefitted from his friendships with young adults with cancer and other young adult cancer survivors. He is excited about the education people will take away from the event. Click here to learn more about Cancervention and register to hear Rubenstein in person.

I think it’s awesome,” said Rubenstein. “It’s bringing education, groups of people together, and health professionals. They can communicate about education in an informal environment, and Cancervention is bringing them altogether to do that and I think it’s going to be very enlightening.”

In addition to his roles as a motivational speaker and healthy living guru, Rubenstein has also become a blogger, YouTuber, and author of the book “Secrets of the Cancer-Slaying Superman” and “TWICE: How I Became a Cancer-Slaying Super Man Before I Turned 21.” His book brings a boy’s perspective to battling cancer. Rubenstein gives his readers his optimistic and hopeful approach to battling cancer coming from the perspective of “what it’s like to be dying when you haven’t really lived.”

Learn more about Rubenstein and his thoughts on slaying cancer here.

-By Kayla Oatneal

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