Diagnosed with cancer five times

May 18, 2011 2:54:47 PM PDT
To hear a diagnosis of cancer is usually an extremely difficult undertaking, but hearing it five different times is unimaginable to most of us.

Eric Levine, 41, says the fifth time changed his life dramatically.

For seven years, he was free from cancer until this year.

"I've had cancer five times. I've had chondrosarcoma, Hodgkins AML, leukemia twice, and then Richter's syndrome, which is an advanced form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia," Levine said.

But instead of stopping the professional chef, the diagnosis has made him go for life at a faster pace and in a different way.

He took a new job as the chef at the Montammy Golf Club in Alpine, New Jersey. And he brought out a new cookbook.

He competed in a nationwide Food Network cooking series called Chopped, sometimes taping shows right after his chemotherapy treatment.

"I'm in remission. We're in the fourth week right now of remission, so it's a great thing and I couldn't be happier place in life as far as work," he said.

It's work where he pours out his passion for food and now also for good health.

Vegetable drinks, not normally a golf club staple, are now included in Montammy's menu.

But more has changed for chef Eric - his attitude about life. He's says he's now learned what really matters.

"I learned that I could do so much better, and so much more for people than I have been. And that does a lot for me," he said.

Already he's begun doing for others. This year he was honored in the American Cancer Society's Taste of Hope event.

"It used to be all about me, but now it's, you know - it's about others. It's an interesting life, an interesting life. If I can do great things, to inspire others, that's what I want to do," Levine said.