‘Sex and the City’ actor to give talk

By Megan McNamara

Most people know Evan Handler as Harry Goldenblatt, the bumbling-yet-lovable divorce lawyer who wooed Charlotte on “Sex and the City.” However, when Handler comes to the University tonight, students will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the man behind the popular television character.

Handler survived acute leukemia that struck from ages 24 to 28, a time when most people worry about little else than landing their first real jobs.

“Leukemia pretty much defined my existence when I had it, and it continues to define me,” Handler said. “It lingers as a specter. … I have spent so much time writing about it, speaking about it, traveling to speak about it.”

Handler described his battle with leukemia as the “backdrop to the story of my life.” He was diagnosed while working on a Neil Simon play and had to drop out of the cast. The cancer then went into remission, and Handler returned to work.

But that was not the end of the battle.

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“It came back again,” Handler said. “I eventually had a bone marrow transplant.”

At that time, Handler said he was angry at the world.

“I was angry at everything,” Handler said. “I was furious at the health care system, which made something as serious as acute leukemia even more difficult.”

Handler’s illness was considered “incurable,” but he fought his way back from it. However, he remains unsatisfied with the health care system.

“I don’t like how certain institutions, such as hospitals, are set up to serve individuals a certain way,” Handler said. “Individuals are forced to conform to that system; it demands conformity, rather than personalized care.”

Handler remained angry at the system and his diagnosis even after he recovered.

“For a long time, that anger was a badge of honor,” Handler said. “There was a lot of power in it.”

Handler was angry and depressed throughout his 30’s even though he knew he was lucky to be alive.

“People would say, ‘This guy got well, yet he’s still so angry,'” Handler said. “A lot of years I should’ve felt lucky to be alive and didn’t.”

Handler’s presentation is based off his book, “It’s Only Temporary … The Good and the Bad News of Being Alive.”

“It’s about working my way back to the land of the living, finding true love and happiness,” Handler said. “When I was stuck in a rut, one of my friends said, ‘It’s only temporary.’ A lot of things that happen you want to get past quickly, and the beauty is it will all pass.”

Handler will speak at 7 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium tonight about everything from “dating to events from high school to more philosophical stuff related to my illness.”

Handler hopes that people will leave his speech with the feeling that “anything is possible.”

“If a guy as pessimistic as me can prove that anything is possible, it’s a believable message,” Handler said.

Editor’s note: The lecture was sponsored by Hillel Foundation, Illini Union Board, Student Affairs Program Coordinating

Council, Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, College of Medicine, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, Champaign-Urbana Jewish

Federation, Sinai Temple and Camp Kesem. The event was also funded by the student organization resource fee.