Privacy Is Our Freedom

From time to time, I will decide to write about a subject that is not directly related to Know Your Enemy, the cancer book, but is a topic of national interest or one that moves me. This blog — about the war between privacy and corporate data collection — is an example of one such topic. As in, our privacy is our freedom. And today’s technology is infringing on it.

How many of you have had the experience of doing a web search and the next thing you know you’re receiving pop-up ads, on your phone or computer, for products or services related to your specific search? This happens too often for it to be just coincidental… C’mon Man!

Then there’s the fact that leading tech companies like Amazon, Google and others are planning to deploy what the industry refers to as “digital assistants” in the home of consumers. The New York Times March 31, 2018 story, Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It? , sheds light on the controversial use of this technology and the potential privacy implications associated with tracking consumer behavior and buying patterns. Register me as a “no” vote for this technology innovation. It sounds like something right out of George Orwell’s futuristic must-read novel 1984, written in 1949.

This got me thinking about how precious, and yet how fragile, our freedoms truly are. Most of us take them for granted.

The following piece was inspired by this fight, and was also influenced by the Eagles 1970’s classic rock song On the Border. You probably know it. It starts with, ”Cruisin’ down the centre of a two way street”.
As you read this poem, think about the following questions:
Is technology taking away our freedoms? Are we complicit in allowing it to?


Someone’s Watching You

Driving down the turnpike on a mid-summer night,
life in the fast-lane, man I’m feeling alright.
The motorcar of choice, a C8 Corvette,
that looks like a Monet and sounds like a jet.

Passing fellow motorists with relative ease,
when I heard a Voice-of-the-State say abruptly to me,
“We know who you are. Pull over my friend
because your driving privileges we must now suspend.”

This may sound a little crazy, even hard to believe
For a citizenry that only knows what it means to be free
But if we hope to safeguard the freedoms of movement and expression,
we must be resolute in their daily oversight and protection

Surfing the Web after the midnight hour,
looking for news on the latest party in power.
The next thing I know and it would only be my luck,
I find myself on an unapproved Facebook site, oh, w-t-f.

And then out of nowhere, I could hardly believe.
I heard a Voice-of-the-State say abruptly to me,
“We know who you are. Log off my friend
because your Internet privileges we must now suspend.”

This may sound a little crazy, even hard to believe
For a citizenry that only knows what it means to be free
But if we hope to safeguard the freedoms of movement and expression,
we must be resolute in their daily oversight and protection


Privacy is our freedom. And big tech is slowly taking it away.

Time is Precious

I realized early in the cancer journeys with my mother, Maxine, and wife, Alyson, that time is precious and finite. Our time on this earth is fleeting, often said to go by at the “blink of an eye.”

These experiences caused me to reassess the value that I placed on time and what I really considered to be my priorities in life.

I was never one that felt the need to define my being with material things. I would never say something like “I live in a $450,000 house (which I don’t). Instead, I’d be more likely to say, “I live in a house that is warm and welcoming, and friends say feels comfortable to them.” One of my go-to sayings that I think captures this sentiment best is: “I want all my belongings to be able to fit in the back of my Ford pick-up truck.”

A new measure of happiness … time

But as I went through my cancer journeys, my priorities shifted. It was no longer about how much (or how little) stuff I had. Or how well liked I was. In this new world order, I found a different type of personal happiness and fulfillment; one that involves family and friends that have a similar appreciation of time and friendship. These relationships are very special because the people are authentic, comfortable in their own skin and “givers” (see prior blog post: A giver has got to know his/her limitations).

Now, I also try to focus on investing my time in activities that give me a real sense of joy and accomplishment. I seldom find myself in situations that are uncomfortable or “just not my deal.” Now that I understand just precious time is, I have learned that the word “no” is not a bad word. In fact, it often leads to a more enjoyable experience for all parties because each participant is committed and all-in.

And that led me to write the following poem. Have these questions in mind as you read it:
“How would your life and decisions change if you knew the end was near? Would you play it safe or take a risk and venture outside of your comfort zone?”


Time is Precious…

How would your life change if you had but one year?
How would the news impact your hopes, dreams, and fears?

Would you invest more time in your current profession?
Or feel the need for greater purpose and expression?

Would you settle on a relationship long since grown stale?
Or seek a special bond you know will prevail?

Would you surround yourself with loyal friends from the past?
Or spend time with new acquaintances unlikely to last?

Time waits for no one and only you hold the key.
To unlock the door and set yourself free.

So live each day as if you had but a few.
And savor every moment like you are starting anew.


Remember. Time is precious. Live every day to its fullest.

Coping With Loss and Saying Goodbye

As you’ve read from my book Know Your Enemy, I’m no stranger to coping with the loss of loved ones. Though it is no less hard these days, it is always a reminder of what matters in life (to me). It reminds me of how love is infinite, but time is not.

Matt Mumber, MD, a good friend and co-author of “Sustainable Wellness: An Integrative Approach to Transform Your Mind, Body, and Spirit”, and I collaborated on the poem below as a way of coping with loss after the recent, sudden death of our mutual, long-time friend Michael.

Coping With Loss and Saying Goodbye

The universe shed

a tear of sadness today

for a man who touched many

in his own special way.

He greeted those close

with a big bear hug.

and when parting, expressed

 feelings of friendship and love.

He lived a life

void of want or of fear

and followed a drummer’s beat,

audible just to his ear.

He knew what he wanted,

the way he liked things to be.

He would tell you about it,


Vinny, Vin Man, Vincenzo,

Mike, Michael, Barbaro;

He answered these calls

with a hearty, “Lets Go!”

Up for any adventure,

Michael always came through.

He was the perfect wingman

with a take no prisoners attitude!

We have loved and lost him,

no longer where he was before.

He is now wherever we are

and will be ever more.

–Frank Antonicelli, Matt Mumber


This collaboration led me to again take account of the remaining people in my life and the people who have been in my life. I could choose to focus on the loss, but instead, I choose to focus on the time I did have with the people I love(d) — like Michael — and how much they (and he) contributed to my life. I choose to focus on the people I still have in my life.

People might look at my life and be sad for me for what I am now lacking, but the reality is that I have been rich. I have been blessed with such amazing people in my life and amazing experiences. The enemy of cancer has actually brought about quite a huge shift in my life, some of which allowed me to find these people and value my life like I hadn’t before.

If I could, of course, I would choose for my wife and mom and Michael to still be here. I still miss them and love them and there really isn’t such a thing as “moving on” from that. They live on in me forever, though. They live on in remembering who they were, what they taught me, and continuing to remember that my time on this earth is limited and to make every minute count.

Spring is coming into bloom again and flowers around us are reborn from death. Change is all around us; the cycle of life continues with or without us. Similarly, I’ve found with loss comes transformation and renewal and rebirth of sorts. We can choose to dwell in the muck or we can choose to soar and be reborn stronger than before.

What will you choose?

Caring for the Caregiver: The Importance of Self-Care

The inspiration for this blog came from the classic Clint Eastwood aka “Dirty Harry” line in Magnum Force “A man has got to know his limitations.” To me, this means that it is equally important to be self-aware of what we cannot do as well as what we can do. So why then is it important for givers to know their limitations? Because, the act of giving can be both a blessing and a curse for individuals wired this way. By understanding the tendencies associated with giving, individuals can better use this gift to help others without compromising their personal health or happiness. In other words, not forgetting about caring for the caregiver.

Being a Giver

Let’s step back for a moment and get some clarity on how I’m using the term giver. I believe certain individuals, I include myself in this group, are predisposed with an excessive giving gene. They are selfless individuals; that are generous with their time; and get real sense of joy and pleasure out of helping others. One of my less than flattering nicknames in high school, among my closest friends, was State Farm. You know the jingle “like a good neighbor, State Farm, is there.” They picked up on the fact that I was always helping someone with something. There was a lot of truth to this nickname and the irony of it is that it was both a compliment and a cut, or blessing and curse, as I previously mentioned.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know the many blessings associated with the act of giving but have you ever considered that there may also be pitfalls with over-giving? Givers tend to place a greater importance on the wants and needs of others over their own. This behavior, over time, can lead to a sense of frustration, resentment and even neglect. So, the million dollar question is this: How do givers insure that their giving is truly a blessing for others without also becoming a self-induced curse? How do we make sure the world is caring for the caregiver?

Finding the Time for Self-Care

For me, it took the loss of two loved ones, my mother Maxine and wife Alyson in 18 months, to grasp the stark reality that time is both precious and finite. I quickly came to the realization that time is a special commodity that must be protected and respected. I have become much more selective regarding how I spend my time and with whom do I give of my time. I now look forward to squeezing every minute out of each new day with my like-minded band of brothers. I feel very blessed to be surrounded by a special group of friends that place the same value on friendship, athletic competition, music and laughter and truly love life, as do I. They are truly the ultimate givers!

In my book, Know Your Enemy, the First Edition, I told the story about how blessed I felt to have the love and support of friends and family members during one of the most grueling periods in my life. Their genuine acts of kindness and compassion reinforced my belief in the goodness of others and the notion of having a greater purpose in life. They were truly caring for the caregiver.

Expressing My Gratitude on Caring for the Caregiver

I wrote the following poem to express my gratitude to this special group of individuals.

And I would encourage readers of this blog to re-assess how you currently spend your time and with whom do you spend it. Remember, it’s never too late to change, but one must first be aware of and acknowledge a need to change before change can occur. Ask yourself these questions: “Do I spend more time caring for others than I do for myself?” and “Who can I turn to when I need someone to care for me?”


The Chosen Few

When a life-changing event, rocks your world to the core.

Who will help you up, as you pick yourself off the floor?

Consider yourself blessed, if your earthly sphere includes.

A special band of brothers, I refer to as -The Chosen Few.

No obstacle is too great, for this brotherhood to overcome.

And no quarter will they cede, until the final battle is won.

Of whom do I speak? Who are these chosen few?

They are a special band of brothers, and one of them, is you.

So in these words I Thank You, more than you will ever know.

And, if the need shall one day arise, I, too, will stand with you.


Never stop caring for the caregiver: yourself. And never let others stop caring for you, either.