|The Book |
...TV and radio appearances on CNN, John Walsh, Dick Clark, Montel Williams, Sally Jesse Raphael, Howard Stern
What could be more intriguing than an HIV positive bisexual man who claims he is happily married? Richard Brodsky makes this claim in Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told–a claim substantiated by Richard's wife, Jodi and their three daughters. Opinionated and biased, this story raises eyebrows and even wrath as Richard bares his soul and shares intimate details of his life. Readers both gay and straight will want to give Richard a tongue-lashing and Jodi their heartfelt advice. But beware of any feelings of smugness until you are faced with your own mortality or that of a loved one. You may be surprised to find yourself envying them, the love they share.
-Amelia Frahm, Author of TICKLE TABATHA'S CANCER TANKEROUS MOMMY
When Richard M. Brodsky contacted me about his book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, I was frankly not that enthusiastic about his story. He is a successful 45-year-old New York City architect, living a respectable life as a devoted husband and father of three daughters. However, starting at age 40, he gave into his realization of bisexuality and the result, five years later, was AIDS. He then had to tell his wife. Filled with shame and guilt, he was saved by the love of his wife and family. If this is any reflection of your life or of someone you know, the book will take you on a personal journey of emotional recovery. HIV has struck the lives of many otherwise ordinary people and is no longer on the media's or public's radar screen. Perhaps this book will change that?
-Bookviews by Alan Caruba
I have just finished your beautifully written book. Your style is fluid and eloquent. Some of your poetry is breathtaking. My hope for you is that you will renew your vows to Jodi and faithfully keep them. The discipline you practiced in your earlier years of marriage, in your running, in your fitness program and in how you deal with your health issues tells me you can, and it would make a beautiful ending for your book.
-Larry Russell, The Wynnewood Gazette, Oklahoma
"Finally, we'll meet Jodi and Richard who, at a late point in his life, realized that he was bisexual and began exploring this other side of his life. When one of Richard's affairs resulted in his being infected with HIV, he realized he had to tell his secret to his wife and possibly end the relationship that he still cherished. Amazingly enough, Jodi and Richard are still together and share an honest and loving relationship that has inspired Richard's new book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told."
-Montel Williams, THE MONTEL WILLIAMS SHOW
The author is a 49-year old NYC architect and marathon runner, married to Jodi, the perfect wife. They have three daughters and, as in their TV movie, Richard tells Jodi he is bisexual and HIV positive. Jodi sees three choices: a divorce, stay together, or a suicide. Accompany Richard and his family on this poetic journey and learn why he would not change places with anyone in the world.
-Joan Friedman, Shalom Newspaper, Pennsylvania
A heart-warming story of life, courage and relationships–Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is one the reader will find hard to put down. From the first page, the reader is charmed and captivated by Richard Brodsky's honesty about his family, his illness and deep love for his wife. The book will be controversially debated; it may shock some but it will be remembered for its passion, its courage and its love. Everyone can relate to some aspect of this well-written, compassionate and soul-searching odyssey. It is a book for our time and one that has a powerful message for all.
-Resnick Reading Center
Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is an insightful and interesting account of life change and the process of addressing it. Full of compassion and love. You will heartily applaud the hero and heroine.
-Dick Traum, Achilles Track Club
While few publishers continue to delve too deeply into the issue and impact of AIDS literature, Trebloon Publications is publishing Richard M. Brodsky’s memoir and self-help book titled Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told explaining how he and his wife and children are dealing with his HIV positive status, his bisexuality, and beyond¾ how his confession has led to a different, but fuller life. Foreword Magazine has nominated Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told as the best gay lesbian nonfiction book for the year 2002.
A much better book than I had expected November 30, 2002
-HAROLD MCFARLAND, Amazon.com, top 47 reviewer
Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is the personal testimony of Richard M. Brodsky, a bisexual married man, who was forced to reveal the truth about himself to his wife because he had become infected with HIV. His wife is HIV-negative and unlikely to contract the virus as long as both of them practice safe sex. Her choice to stay with him and help make their marriage work is an honest and engaging story of the celebration of married life. Jodi is a profound and inspiring message of hope that embraces the rights of HIV-sufferers everywhere, and the patience and love of one dedicated, unique, and loyal woman.
-MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
The title of Brodsky's new book, Jodi: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told seems intolerable, but the story it tells is actually quite interesting. Turns out Brodsky fell in love with a woman, got married, had three kids, remembered he was gay, started going around with men again, and picked up HIV at the ripe old age of 40. Intense.
-The Portland Mercury, Oregon
Outrunning a Secret
Marathoners don't hit the wall, despite hubby's revelation of bisexuality, HIV
By David Behrens STAFF WRITER NEWSDAY
November 5, 2002
Richard Brodsky decided to skip Sunday's New York City Marathon. He and his wife Jodi had entered the race every year since the early 1990s, but on Friday, Richard injured his shoulder in a fall and withdrew from the competition.
The Brodskys' plan to run together was to be a celebration of sorts. This spring, Richard published a tell-all confessional memoir about their marriage, written with the permission of Jodi and their three teenage daughters.
The couple had started to jog together when they first met and married in 1980. What is most surprising this fall is that they still are running together - still married, living together and sharing a marital bed - after a five-year span that severely tested their life together.
On Aug. 4, 1997, Richard had urgently asked his wife to meet him at his architectural office in Manhattan. There was something ominous in his voice, Jodi reflected later. She and her husband, then 44, lived in a large and trendy home in Atlantic Beach, just an easy jog to the oceanside boardwalk. Their marriage, in her view, had been "wonderful."
Richard recorded their rendezvous in his journal: "I finally told her part of the bad news. I told her I was bisexual. She sobbed bitterly...so afraid that I would leave her. I told her I never wanted to leave her, that my bisexuality was something I couldn't help...that I'd been this way for the past three or four years. I then told her there was more."
Three weeks earlier, he had gone to a doctor's office for his first AIDS test. "I was HIV- positive," he noted in the journal. "I know that 99 out of 100 women would never speak to their husbands again."
He had never even considered AIDS as a risk to either himself or Jodi. Married to a loving wife, proud of his three lively children and his successful architectural practice, he wondered: "How could this be happening?"
Jodi had always aroused his passions. "Yet I could not control my feelings toward men," he wrote. "How could Jodi accept me or understand me, like me or love me?"
But five years later, Richard is still alive and well, strong enough to stick to his daily regimen of road-running. Jodi has remained his wife and confidante, signing on for the duration - despite one more emotional bombshell her husband exploded.
In late 1997, Richard admitted that he "had not been entirely faithful," as he phrased it. He had sex again, he said, with a man he called "James," the man who had infected him with the AIDS virus.
Jodi was upset, to say the least, and the discussion of extramarital sex resumed. It was not that Richard believed bisexuality gave him a license to be unfaithful - with men or women.
"I've never been with another woman," he said in a recent interview. "I love my wife very much. But I am attracted to men. If that's a violation of marital vows, then I guess I've been unfaithful. I'm lucky to have an incredible wife."
Indeed, many of Jodi's acquaintances agree that her choices seem incredible. And given Richard's professed fear of losing his wife and his feelings of guilt about putting her at risk, his decision to resume sexual relations with men, even infrequently, is startling.
The issue of bisexuality and infidelity, he wrote, "would be a recurring theme for the next few weeks, until gradually Jodi accepted my sexuality and my needs." But her thoughts were only roughly sketched in his book. It is not until the epilogue that Jodi has a chance to put in a few paragraphs of her own.
All these intimate marital details - once part of a personal journal driven by guilt and fear - are now in book form, "Jodi: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told," (Trebloon, $21.95), with a first printing of 5,000 copies.
In the publishing process, Jodi has served as most avid first reader, devoted fan and tireless publicist. Since Aug. 31, Richard has been on the road, on a wildly ambitious book tour, arranged by Jodi and himself.
The itinerary has put him on a 13,000-mile journey by car through more than 20 major cities, from Seattle and San Francisco to St. Louis, New Orleans and finally New York. Driving from city to city - jogging in his free time - he says he has sold some 1,500 copies of "Jodi" at bookstore signings, while placing another thousand copies on the shelves.
In separate interviews, the Brodskys talked about their marriage, their children and the decision to go public.
Jodi has had to deal with tough questions. Why did she decide, for instance, to stay married to a man who has sex with men? And why is she willing to risk "safe" sex with an HIV-positive partner?
The discovery that her husband was bisexual was, indeed, a shock, Jodi recalled in an interview at their Atlantic Beach home.
"I had no idea he was involved with men. My first reaction was: 'What are you talking about!' I was afraid he was going to leave me for a boyfriend."
But almost immediately, she agreed to stick to her commitment to their marriage - knowing there would be occasional infidelities with men - a decision that astounded some of her acquaintances.
"I love Richard very much, and I know he loves me. But if we were not married, it's likely he would be living a different life, probably with men, not with any other woman," Jodi said. And Richard concurs with her assessment.
Some people have told her: "Forget the whole thing. It's disgusting!" But she never had such feelings. "I felt sorry for what happened to Richard. . . . We cried a lot, but I was never angry."
Even though her life is so disrupted?
Even though she must go for an AIDS test every three months?
No, Jodi said. "I never felt like, 'Poor me, feel sorry for me.' I never asked him: 'How could you do this to me?' How many men go around the country telling people how wonderful his wife and children are?"
Why did Richard Brodsky decide to turn his private journal into a public document? "Because I didn't want to live my life as a lie," he said in a phone interview from Memphis.
His wife and daughters agreed that the story needed to be told. "My children are proud of me now because we're living our lives honestly. And perhaps it will help people afflicted with AIDS."
In part, his message is that he is alive and symptom-free - and that others, too, can live with the illness if they have access to AIDS medications. But, he wrote, millions are dying because the medicine is too expensive.
So he will continue to write and speak out as an AIDS activist. One day, he wrote, his grandchildren might ask him about his life. "At least, I can tell them that I did something. I wrote a book pleading for medicine to help people around the world. And I did it at the risk of subjecting my family to ridicule - because their grandfather was bisexual."
Perhaps, he hopes, his book will remind people "that AIDS can happen to the guy next door, even a married man in the suburbs."
-David Behrens, NEWSDAY, New York
Don't let the title of this book mislead you. Jodi is the author's wife but the book chronicles the author's unusual and interesting life. By the time you finish the book you will know a great deal about the author and less about his wife. The main thing the reader will learn about Jodi is the surprising fact that she learned of her husband's bisexuality and HIV status on August 4,1997, and remained unwavering in her love for him. Hence the title. This autobiography tells Richard's remarkable story. After years of devotion to his family, Richard learned of his bisexual nature. On that fateful day in August, the worst day of his life, he could perceive of three options. Suicide was the first one considered but he loved his family too much so that option was dismissed. Secondly he would offer Jodi a divorce and let her have everything. The most desirable outcome that he dared hope for was to continue sharing married life and somehow deal with the hurt he was bringing into their lives. To Richard it was a miracle when his wife tearfully accepted his bisexual and HIV status. Fortunately for this family, Jodi was found to be free of HIV. The author states a dual purpose for writing this book. The first is as a tribute to his wife. He also promotes the book as a means to help stop people from dying of this dreaded disease. To this end he is allocating a portion of the proceeds toward finding a cure for AIDS. It is also clear that this family does not want to live a lie or feel they must present a false front to the world. As I read the book, the author's bisexuality seemed almost incidental to his life. Appreciation and love for his family is a thread that runs throughout the story. The book portrays the life of an affluent and relatively happy Jewish family from New York. The life pictured is attractive as the author relates tales of family incidents with his daughters and extended family. Some are humorous and some are touching. Richard shares his emotions freely about the hardships he has endured. The reader may be prompted to think–yeah, well he brought the hardships on himself. But if we're honest that is probably true for most of us. Richard Brodsky enjoys good health at the present time. He and Jodi even run marathons. I recommend this book to those readers who enjoy sharing an intimate journey along another person's path through life. You may well feel like a friend of the family by the book's end.
-Barbara H. Peterson, Daily Republic, Fairfield County, CA.
Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is author Richard Brodsky's self-published life
story: As a middle-aged father and successful architect, Brodsky contracted HIV, forcing him to reveal his bisexuality to his wife and three teenage daughters. Brodsky's spouse (who remains HIV-negative) chose to stay with him ¾ a key event in their relationship, as the hyperbolic subtitle of the book suggests. The author discusses his sexual explorations with men, recounts his seroconversion, talks about his day-to-day life, addresses letters to his family, and provides samples of his own rhyming poetry and inspirational phrases. The achingly earnest and sentimental tone notwithstanding, Brodsky's story does offer a thought-provoking testimony of a married father's struggle to come to terms with bisexuality in midlife ¾ a rare perspective even in the genre of confessional memoirs.
-American Society on Aging
This memoir is the story of a successful 45-year-old New York City architect, living a respectable life as a devoted and loving husband and father of three daughters. His hobbies are relatively normal — weight training and marathon running. But starting at age 40 the author’s perfect world begins to crumble as he becomes aware of his bisexuality. Five years later, the author discovers he is HIV positive, and in one day he must tell his wife Jodi that he is both bisexual and HIV positive. Brodsky goes into a period of depression, guilt, shame, and all the negative emotions that society thrusts upon an HIV positive man. Add to that the fact that he truly adores his wife and family, thus making the situation even more shameful for a married man. His wife Jodi loves him in return and manages to accept his bisexual nature. The children also accept their father, and the family becomes tighter as they protect him from the outside world. The author decides his story must be told as the potential humanitarian benefits outweigh the fear of bringing shame to the family. His message is simple — eat right, exercise, don’t take drugs and take the AIDS medication, and HIV positive people can live a healthy, productive life. Accompany Richard and his family on their magical, poetic journey and learn why the author would not change places with anyone in the world. Rejoice in his life, cry with him through his challenging times, but in the end, triumph with the couple and their three teenage daughters. As Jodi advises, "Find passion in this lifetime because a lifetime without passion is not worth living."
Imagine having it all: The perfect wife and family, a successful architectural career, and athletic prowess as a marathon runner. Then imagine having to tell you wife that your life is a myth… and that you are not only bisexual but HIV positive, too. Cry with Richard and Jodi as tears of sorrow wrack their lives only to be replaced by tears of joy.
Read this book and take a journey with Richard and Jodi and their three teenage daughters and learn how they survive and triumph. This amazing love story is definitely a celebration of diversity and life as we know it. Go with this family through an engaging, magical and poetic journey as Richard conjures up friends and relatives, dead and alive to tell his story and help AIDS infected people from dying. With over 25,000,000 people who have died from AIDS, this is a serious story that needs to be told. This is truly a heart-warming story of life, relationships and courage. From page one you are captivated by Richard Brodsky’s honesty about his family, his illness and his deep love for his wife. The style is fluid and eloquent with breathtaking poetry. As someone who has lost a lover to HIV, I appreciate the effort it takes to come to terms with this condition. And I am sure Mr. Brodsky will touch and help many, many people he may never know. Author, Richard M. Brodsky of the best selling book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, will be visiting Spokane on September 11th and 12th. On his itinerary will be a first stop, Wednesday (September 11th) form 11:30 am. until 1:00 p.m. At Europa Restaurant located at 125 S. Wall St. in downtown Spokane, to speak to and mingle with Inland Northwest Business Alliance members and their guests at their monthly luncheon. This architect come author will entertain you while sharing his story of diversity, devastation and love. Mr. Brodsky will be signing his books at Auntie’s Bookstore, located at 402 Main Street at 7:30 p.m. the following day (September 12th). Come meet this fascinating gentleman, and be sure to read this amazing love story.
-CITY VOICE, Spokane
Richard Brodsky’s true-story book Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is about a successful 45-year-old New York City architect living a respectable life as a devoted and loving husband and father of three daughters. Brodsky, a marathon runner discovers in 1997 at the age of 45 that he is HIV positive after having unprotected sex with a man and in one day must tell his wife that he is bisexual and HIV positive. The family grows closer as they struggle to come to terms with the HIV. They also must struggle with the decision whether to publicly tell their story and leave their life as an open book for the world to see. They decide the potential humanitarian benefits outweigh the fear of bringing shame to the family. Brodsky recounts in his book how he delved into a period of depression, guilt, shame and all the negative emotions that society thrusts upon an HIV positive man. Brodsky and his wife Jodi have a very strong bond in their marriage and have been drawn closer by their love of running. They may have the fastest combined time for a couple in their age group running the New York City Marathon. The author’s fastest marathon time came at the age of 46 after he was diagnosed HIV positive. Brodsky’s message to people who are HIV positive: Eat right, exercise, don’t take drugs, and take the AIDS medication and HIV positive people can live a healthy, productive life.
-Nassau HERALD, New York
As someone who has lost a lover to HIV, I appreciate the effort it takes to come to terms with this condition. I'm sure that people you may never know will be touched and helped by your efforts
-Dr. Richard C.
Imagine having it all: the perfect wife and family, a successful architectural career, and athletic prowess as a marathon runner. Then, imagine having to tell your wife that your life is a myth: not only are you bisexual, but HIV positive, too. Named for Richard's wife, Jodi, the story chronicles Richard's struggles to come to grips with his personal identity while maintaining his family ties and obligations. Though this book is non-fiction, Brodsky uses the magical and poetic. He conjures friends and relatives, both dead and living to help tell his story. His fluid and eloquent style supports his imaginative approach to non-fiction writing. With over 22 million souls who have died from HIV, this is an uplifting, serious story that needs to be told. From the first page Brodsky is charmingly honest about his family, his illness, and his deep love for his wife. His honesty helps transform this story from personal tragedy into a celebration of life and diversity. As someone who has lost loved ones to HIV, I appreciate the effort it takes to come to terms with this condition. Whether it's holding a pencil and T-square or penning his name to a book, Mr. Brodsky will surely continue to touch and help many people whom he may never know.
-CITY VOICE, Spokane
This is a biographical memoir, the story of Richard and Jodi and their three daughters. It is not only a love story but also a celebration of life. It's the story of an HIV positive bisexual man who claims he is happily married. He bares his life in intimate details. In a way, it's a powerful story, but yet it could hit some readers the wrong way. Overall, it's a heartwarming story full of love and courage. It's a love that never wavered even when Jodi learned of her husband's HIV status. It's interesting to see someone so caring under the circumstances and so compassionate in every way. You will either love this book or come to hate it. However, if you complete it, you will find that you have discovered something along the way. It's a way that you learn to appreciate life and live it to the fullest. If this book sounds familiar or the name Brodsky seems familiar, perhaps you saw his guest appearances on Howard Stern, Sally Jesse Raphael and other media outlets.
Richard Brodsky’s life fell apart at 44. It was then that he had to tell his wife that not only was he bisexual but also HIV positive. He started to put his life together a year later when he posted his fastest time ever in the New York Marathon. Brodsky, 50, tells his story in a new book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. He will be in Lansing next week as part of a book tour. Brodsky started running in his 20s. He also started dating men. After he graduated with a degree in architecture from Pratt Institute in New York, he moved to Iran to work when he was 22. "My sex life wasn’t so great," he said, "and I tried men." After 15 months, he returned to the states at 23 and didn’t date men for the next 17 years. In that period, he married and had three daughters. As his family and career grew, his running fell off. Then at age 40 and 20 pounds overweight, he returned to running¾ and men. "I wanted to get back in shape," he said. "I started reading men’s health magazines. These guys really looked kind of hot to me. From age 40 to age 44, I started to have gay experiences with men without telling my wife. I felt very, very guilty. I was a successful architect, I had three beautiful daughters, I had lots of friends, I supported my family well, my wife was a beautiful woman, we were very respected in the community. There was this one side of me I couldn’t do anything about." Brodsky’s secret homosexual life continued until a man he had had sex with told him he should be tested for HIV because he was positive. "I was kind of naive. He was a nice looking guy, and I thought someone who has AIDS is sickly looking." Brodsky’s first HIV test was negative, but because the infection can take months to manifest itself, his doctor told him he needed to be tested again in three months. While he waited, he kept his uncertain status a secret from everyone, including his wife. "It was the worst thing I ever did in my life," he said. "I just couldn’t break her heart. And in my mind, I wanted to believe I was not coming down with HIV." His self-denial ended when his second test showed he was positive. To help him tell his wife, he wrote her a love poem. "When I gave her the poem, I started crying," he said. "You couldn’t imagine a more tragic scene in a movie." Brodsky said he offered to leave if his wife wanted time to think things over, but she didn’t. "The most remarkable thing about Jodi is she never wavered." Together, they coped with the knowledge that their life had been turned upside down. "We were very depressed, and we kept it a secret" for about a year when one of our daughters found out about his HIV status in a journal Brodsky was keeping. At first he lied, telling her that he had gotten HIV from a bloody rag at the gym. Eventually, though, he told all of his children the truth. Meanwhile he kept running. At age 45, he posted a highly respectable 3 hour 23 minutes in the New York Marathon, his personal best. "I’d run a half dozen or so marathons since my late 20s," he said. "I couldn’t break four hours. All of a sudden I have been HIV positive for 15 months and I’m running my fastest marathon." Lansing is one of the first stops on a two-month, nationwide tour he is paying for himself, just as he paid for publishing the book himself. "I’ve never worked harder in my life." He spent a year writing and publishing the book, which came out in April. Now he is devoting himself not only to promoting it but also to promoting the need to do something more about the AIDS epidemic. "I cannot accept the fact that 3 million are dying from AIDS each year," he said. He is shocked that the world is letting children in Africa be born with HIV when about $1,000 worth of medicine administered to a pregnant woman can greatly improve the likelihood that the virus won’t be passed along to her baby. "I’ve chosen to speak out and write and give up my architectural practice," he said. "I’m not independently wealthy. I really have to get this book to do well and hopefully save lives." If it does well, Brodsky says, he wants to continue to fight AIDS in Africa through a marathon there. "We bailed out the airlines (after Sept. 11), now it’s pay-back time. Let’s get them to fly people over to Africa for the marathon." The entry fee would be at least $5,000, and big business would sponsor the runners. "All the money would go for medicine and making people aware of the problem," he said. "For $5,000 to $10,000, you get a two-day tour of hospitals where they don’t have medicine or even aspirin."
-CITY PULSE, Lansing
A person must be special to be the inspiration for "the greatest love story ever told." That’s the honor given to Jodi Slansky Brodsky, ADV 1976, who helped her husband Richard write the book called Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, published by Trebloon. Their true story led to appearances on shows hosted by Sally Jesse Raphael and Howard Stern. As the press release states: "Imagine having it all; the perfect wife and family, a successful architectural career and a marathon runner. Then imagine having to tell your wife that your life is a myth… and that you are not only bisexual but HIV positive." Jodi closes the book by saying, "Find passion in this lifetime because a lifetime without passion is not worth living." They have three teenage daughters.
-COMMUNIGATOR, University of Florida
This book is very well written and seems to be truthful. This autobiography is about a man who becomes HIV positive and must tell people who he really is¾ a bisexual man. The only problem with this, according to many members in society, is that he is married with children. Even though he is bisexual this book is about his love for his wife while he struggles with bisexuality and a deadly disease. This disease is HIV. In this book Richard reveals intimate details about his life. This includes how he contracted HIV and his regrets as well as his most cherished moments. There are no inside pictures however Richard paints portraits in the readers’ mind with his words. The reader not only gets to know Richard in this book but Jodi as well. I could relate to Jodi’s relationship with her parents as it seemed similar to the relationship that I have with my parents. This book is very straightforward and enrapturing. It drew me in and this book proved to be very interesting.
-Pan’s Grove, Wyoming
New from Trebloon Publications, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Richard M. Brodsky. Essentially a 256-page love letter to Mr. Brodsky’s wife, Jodi, and three daughters, it is also an autobiographical account of how the Brodsky family coped with the revelation that Richard not only came out as a bisexual man in his forties, but also became HIV positive from one such affair. Honest, opinionated and unapologetically tender, Richard Brodsky combines journal entry prose and personal poems and letters to help illustrate his gratitude and devotion to his family. At the same time, much care is given to help readers understand the earth-shaking reality of the predicament his secrecy caused. Right or wrong, Mr. Brodsky takes responsibility for his actions, never asking for any more than basic compassion and forgiveness from those he has wronged, and expecting no less in return.
Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Richard M. Brodsky is in stores now from Trebloon Publications. Log on to www.trebloon.com for more information.
-Expmagazine, St. Louis
HIV+ / brain cancer marathon runner-- Too bad we don't choose our fatal disease
Dear Dr. Dezube,
I have been HIV positive for 5.5 years. During that time period my viral load has almost always been undetectable. I never had any opportunistic infections during the past 5.5 years. I recently wrote a book pleading to get AIDS medicine out to people all over the world. 8,000 people do not have to die every day. I was living proof that you can beat AIDS if you can just get the AIDS medicine and lead a healthy lifestyle. A few months ago I had a seizure at a book signing in Barnes & Noble in Greenwich Village. My doctors have assured me that my illness has nothing to with my being HIV positive. Ironically this was after I had just completed a two month 14,000 mile book tour around the country. It turned out I have brain cancer, the glioma type. Now my doctors look at me and leave behind a list of funeral parlors. Maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit, but the survival rates are not great. Perhaps it is worse in my instance because they could only remove 90% of the tumor. I remember the doctor informing me before the biopsy that my tumor was near the front of my brain so it was operable. I thought great, get the bloody thing out of my head and let's move on. That obviously wasn't the case. Not only that, I had a glenoid fracture at my shoulder and I have a blood clot in my leg. I joke with my doctor saying that I went from his best patient to his worst one overnight. Nevertheless I am upbeat. I started radiation and only have eight sessions to go. But a few strange things have happened to me along the way: First, as much as being HIV+ is such a horrible stigma in today's society, nothing is more respectable an illness than brain cancer. Too bad, we couldn't choose our fatal diseases. People and family have been unusually kind and caring. Now that you know part of my background, my questions to you are as follows: First, my T-cells are now over 1,000, about 15% higher than they've ever been. How can that be? Isn't brain cancer supposed to take a toll on my body instead of making my immune system stronger? Second, I am back to running 3.5 miles per day, increasing my mileage 5-10% weekly and plan on running the 2003 NYC marathon. When I asked my doctor if exercising and eating right would improve the likelihood that the tumor will not come back, he replied no. I found his response to be so disheartening. Is he correct and whether or not the tumor grows back is just a crap shoot?
Richard M. Brodsky
Dear Richard: That's quite a gut-wrenching post. First, I can sympathize with your comments about experiencing more kindness and caring with the diagnosis of cancer, than with AIDS. I have certainly heard this very often from my AIDS patients who also have cancer. Much work still needs to be done so the stigma of AIDS can be lifted. I can't explain why your CD4 counts have risen, but I've seen this happen. Most likely your glioma is NOT related to your HIV disease, but that said, several articles have been published on gliomas in HIV-infected patients. I'm often asked if good diet and exercise will improve the likelihood that a tumor will not come back. Certainly proper diet and exercise are indeed helpful in terms of making one feel well about one self. Does it help prevent recurrence? There's certainly no robust data indicating that such maneuvers help prevent recurrence. Oh how, I wish it were so simple. I urge you to remain hopeful-- it is indeed easy to get disheartened. Good luck in the 2003 marathon.
-Dr. Bruce Dezube, Harvard Medical School
Each day I see another sunrise
Dear Dr. Dezube,
Thank you very much for answering my question. I am the author of "Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told", who was also just diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. My story is an inspirational story. I am so sorry to read the vast majority of questions that are submitted to the Body's website. Obviously their questions are dealing with life-threatening choices. My story is meant to give hope to AIDS sufferers that AIDS does not have to be a death sentence and there are some positive aspects to being HIV positive. Here are a few examples. Nobody celebrates a birthday more than me. I was thrilled when I just turned 50. After all, the alternate wasn't too hot. And each day I see another sunrise; I'm sure I appreciate it considerably more than the average healthy person. One more thing I did today that I don't know of too many people that can make such a statement: I jogged four miles during a fifteen inch blizzard in my hometown Atlantic Beach, New York.
Yours is a beautiful message of hope. There's nothing more to say.
-Dr. Bruce Dezube, Harvard Medical School
Richard Brodsky writes, "Imagine having it all...the perfect wife and family, a successful architectural career, and athletic prowess as a marathon runner. Then imagine having to tell your wife that your life is a myth...and that you are not only bisexual but HIV positive, too. Is there any doubt that 99 out of 100 women would throw this man out on the streets? Maybe, just maybe the love of one special wife could defy those odds. The husband would then proclaim his undying gratitude and love to his wife, as I did by writing the book Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told."
Brodsky has subsequently traveled 14,000 miles around the country making sure everyone knew about Jodi, and posted innumerable Internet announcements and emails, seemingly almost to deluge White Crane—and presumably every other gay publication in the country. He’s done many a book signing. And told his story on the Sally Jesse Raphael, Dick Clark, Howard Stern and John Walsh TV shows.
Surely a smattering of married HIV+ men around the country have similar stories and are not living straight lives as defined by society. When asked on national TV why the Brodskys chose to reveal their story, the answer was they could not live their life a lie. Not as long as 3,000,000 people are dying unnecessarily from AIDS each year because the medicine is not available to them. The love story of Richard and Jodi has been told and retold until Richard’s final book signing at Barnes & Noble in Greenwich Village on November 1st, 2002 during which he suffered a seizure that wracked his body and sent him crashing on a downward spiral. For months afterwards, his energy was sapped battling the effects of a malignant tumor that could only be partially removed. The doctors have declared that his brain tumor had nothing to do with his HIV.
"It is now more important than ever," he writes, "for my story to be shared and to convince the public that HIV and cancer patients can overcome life’s challenges."
Even though his cancer has been diagnosed as terminal, the love and affection that has been extended to his family and him, he believes, is eternal. His doctors also say that new medications are always available and the power of positive thinking can make a difference. Richard has declared in no uncertain terms that he will be running the 2003 New York City Marathon.
Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is Brodsky’s autobiography, focusing especially on the discovery of homosexual feelings at age 40, his unfortunate infection with HIV in the process of discovery, and his experience of struggling to create a successful life as a married gay man and father of a family. The book includes sections of poetry as well as advice about health and well-being the author picked up from his experience as a patient of modern medicine.
Brodsky’s is not the usual story of a gay man with AIDS, but it is not an unfamiliar story either (one of Kip’s and my best friends was a gay San Antonian named Michael Stevens who was cared for in his last months by his ex-wife Bernadette). Brodsky tell his story with wit, humor and verve. It adds to the poignancy of his story that now he’s been given a terminal diagnosis. His story of the wife’s love lives on beyond him.
-White Crane, Texas
WANT TO READ A LOVE STORY? Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told is the autobiographical story of Richard M. Brodsky, a New York City architect who lives in the nearby town of Atlantic Beach, Long Island. Richard Brodsky’s life was changed forever, August 4, 1997, when he was forced to admit to his wife that he was bisexual, and that he was HIV-positive. His wife Jodi, for whom the book is written, as well as his three daughters Hillary, Peri and Stacie, chose not to leave him. They continue on with their daily lives as if nothing has changed. They do not treat Richard differently and still love him. In response to this drastic change, Richard decided to write a book, not to make others feel sorry for him, but to inform others. The book is filled with poems, letters to loved ones, and speeches, not depressing statistics and morbid images. It does not discuss death, but instead living life to the fullest.
Brodsky has lived an extremely interesting life. Originally growing up in the suburbs of New York City and attending Pratt Institute (later graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture degree). Brodsky moved to Iran to launch a career, due to a recession in the United States economy. He returned to the United States after just fifteen months in Iran, and moved to Houston, Texas. This is where he met and married Jodi. The two moved back to New York and had their three children. It was not until years later that Richard realized the truth about his sexuality. It is at this point that he begins his book.
Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told tells Richard’s simple message as well as his advice to staying healthy. It is written through his eyes in various journal entries. He talks not only of his past, but his future as well. He suggests that everyone exercise, eat right, and advises to refrain from using drugs and alcohol. An avid runner, Brodsky actually ran the marathon in just three hours-twenty three minutes, even after his diagnosis. Brodsky continues to prove that he is not giving up without a fight. Throughout the story, Brodsky stresses his love for his family as well as the fact that he would not change places with anyone. He is completely happy with his life. Although the story might be somewhat biased and opinionated, it illustrates the true thoughts of someone that not only risked everything he had by telling the truth, but also continues to tell his story to complete strangers. This book is a great catch for those who want to know what it is like to live with circumstances they are not normally presented with in everyday life.
-HORIZON, Lynbrook High School, NY
NYACK — A man who was married 17 years then had to tell his wife that he was bisexual and had contracted HIV shared his story yesterday.
"I needed to write this book as a gift to my wife," Richard M. Brodsky, a New York City architect, said of his book, "The Greatest Love Story Ever Told."
His wife, Jodi, wrote the epilogue of the book. The two have three daughters and though Richard has brain cancer, he plans to run in the New York City marathon next month.
The author presentation and book signing at Village Hall was part of the Volunteer Counseling Services of Rockland County's Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Community Education Series. The event was co-sponsored by the Rockland County Health Department and TOUCH, Together Our Unity Can Heal.
"We have a deep bond, despite the obstacles," Richard Brodsky said. "Jodi saved our marriage."
"This is one of our most important programs and community events that the LGBT education series has sponsored," Phyllis B. Frank, executive director of Volunteer Counseling Services told the small gathering. She began the presentation with a moment of silence to acknowledge the death of Jonathan Cohen last week. The 40-year-old social worker was known for his efforts against domestic violence and had leukemia.
"I am really very moved by this story and the program," Frank said. "There are so many levels of issues encompassed in this story."
She commended the Brodskys for having the courage to come out and tell their story.
"Being open about life issues is life-giving," she said.
Jerry Goodman, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Rockland County, and his wife, Mimi, who were married for 30 years and have two gay children, found the Brodskys' story gripping.
"We came for information on how our children's lives are impacted by this dynamic. This information has to get out," said Mimi, a member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. -THE JOURNAL NEWS, Nyack, New York
First HIV-Positive Runner With Terminal Brain Cancer to Enter the NYC Marathon NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 10/14/2003 -- Author Richard M. Brodsky, the first HIV-positive entrant with terminal brain cancer to run the NYC Marathon, will enter the November 2 race with his wife, Jodi, and his brain oncologist. Here's why:
Third, sharing in Brodsky's story is his wife, upon which his book Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told was written -- the ultimate gift that Brodsky can leave her. Having to tell her that he was bisexual and HIV-positive was, well… those are the stories that movies are made of. The stigma of AIDS would not dictate the lives of this family. His middle daughter recently graduated high school and was voted Most Likely to Succeed, a testament to the love shared by all and one family's dedication to battling these hardships together.
First HIV-Positive Runner With Terminal Brain Cancer Has Completed the NYC Marathon NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/03/2003 -- Author-runner Richard M. Brodsky, who is both HIV-positive and has terminal brain cancer, completed the November 2, 2003, NYC Marathon in 04:52. His purpose for running the marathon was to serve notice that AIDS does not have to be a death sentence, as long as necessary medicines are provided to AIDS sufferers. He encourages these people to lead a healthy lifestyle, just as he does.
Even though Brodsky is HIV-positive and has brain cancer, he has been blessed with strong legs and a will to live. Brodsky made no bones about it; each stride in the latter part of the marathon run was agonizingly painful. But, at least he was alive to feel pain. Echoing in his brain was the pounding reality that 8,000 people would be dying from AIDS today -- one person every 11 seconds. He had no choice; he had to finish the marathon. 8,000 voices could never be silenced. His having brain cancer could never be considered an additional reason to give up completing the marathon.
30,000 spectators demanded that Richard finish the race. Our hometown boy, Richard was clearly the hero of the day. Cheered on by the greatest sports enthusiasts from every walk of life, Richard's final quarter-mile to the finish line was a blur between winning a gold medal and coming back from the dead to claim it. A year and a day had passed since Richard suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. However, coaxed on by his team of doctors from NYU, LIJ and Columbia Presbyterian Hospitals, there was no way that Richard could not complete the marathon. And just in case Richard tried to wimp out on his commitment to finish the race, Dr. Casilda Balmaceda of Columbia Presbyterian ran side by side with Richard to the finish line. A POZ magazine photographer recorded the event for an upcoming issue.
Richard's wife, Jodi, and their three daughters have been very supportive of his coming out and sharing his story. AIDS need not destroy families, according to the Brodskys. The fact that one of the daughters in this family was just voted Most Likely To Succeed by her high school graduating class is testament to that credo.
Richard proclaims that his book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, is his gift to his wife for keeping their family together and keeping Richard a part of the family. ─Westside Gazette, Florida
An AIDS MARATHON IN AFRICA to
NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/20/2003 - HIV +, brain cancer survivor, marathon-running author of Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told (by Richard M. Brodsky) can no longer count to eleven without realizing that someone has died from AIDS.
WORLD AIDS DAY is December 1st. What better way to commemorate the 25,000,000 people who have died from AIDS than an AIDS Marathon in Africa. A $5,000 entry fee would be required for all runners to compete. The fee could be raised by each athlete soliciting his business, school, friends, etc. Companies or schools could find honor in claiming the fastest runner as one of their own. 1,000 runners could raise $5,000,000 for AIDS sufferers. TV rights could fetch millions more.
Transporting the 1,000 runners could be provided by the airlines at no cost. The TV coverage would launch a bidding war as to which airline(s) fly the runners to Africa. And for the princely sum of $5,000 the runners could tour villages and hospitals in Africa to witness firsthand the devastation of life, children growing up without parents, and the general instability of a poverty-stricken continent.
To further commemorate the marathon, the US Postal Service should issue and promote a stamp that finally acknowledges AIDS. A portion of the proceeds of each stamp sold could be donated towards finding a cure for AIDS and providing medicine to AIDS sufferers in this country and abroad. Some of the 8,000 people who die each day from AIDS are also Americans. Not everyone in this country can afford health insurance and the government does not provide medicine for all those who are in need. Tragically, it is now too late for the first 25,000,000 souls who have been banished from our planet; what do we say to the next 25,000,000?
For the AIDS Marathon to happen, people and businesses that can raise $5,000 to sponsor a runner need to come forward. Please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org if you and your group can be counted on. This undertaking is too great a task for me (Brodsky). I will be requesting that a 501c3 nonprofit foundation manage this project. I promise to donate a copy of my book, Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told to the first 1,000 runners who complete the AIDS AFRICA 2004 MARATHON.
I've had some preliminary interest from the International School of Dakar about participating in the marathon. I believe if I can get commitments from about 10 groups totaling $50,000, I have a fighting chance for the marathon to happen. A commitment from TV to televise the event would bring me one giant step closer to running the AIDS AFRICA 2004 MARATHON. I don't give up. Please believe me. I'm still running marathons. ─Westside Gazette, Florida
AMAZING RACE…where cancer and HIV are mere hurdles
WHO: RICHARD BRODSKY
WHAT: RUNS THE MARATHON
WHERE: NEW YORK CITY
A year before lacing up for last November’s run, HIVer and architect-turned-author Richard Brodsky, 51, collapsed at his book signing. An avid marathon man, he seemed to have hit a wall: a cancerous brain tumor, unrelated to HIV. POZ caught up with Brodsky back at the starting line to see if he could bring home the gold.
I’d run marathons annually since 1992, so I was ecstatic to be returning after my seizure. I’d run my fastest one while positive in ’98, but now I had a bad shoulder break from the seizure. I knew that physically this would be my hardest race ever. But I had to finish, to prove that HIVers can live healthy, productive lives. Finding out I was HIV-positive was the worst day in my life. I had to tell my wife, Jodi, that I was unfaithful, bisexual and positive. She never wavered
"My brain said, ‘I don’t care how much pain you’re in. Your job is to finish.’"
In her decision to stick by me─we love each other, we have three children and we run marathons together (at our own pace). She’s also helped with my treatment. My cancer is more serious than my HIV─surgery and radiation have rid 95% of the tumor, although some cancer cells remain in my brain. Running is therapeutic, too─it eases my headaches. Luckily I’ve been able to promote my first book (Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told) and work on my second.
About 18 miles into the marathon, I asked myself, "Why am I doing this?" My shoulder went numb and my legs felt as if they had nothing left. My brain had to tell my body, "I don’t care how much pain you are experiencing, your job is to finish." Then my oncologist, Casilda Balmaceda, joined me for the last mile and a half. I got a spurt of energy near the finish line, where people called out my name on my shirt and I was able to sprint past most of the runners. My time: 4:52. I felt like an Olympic Athlete.
Someone with a novel idea – perhaps even a reality for next year—is AIDS Ambassador Richard M. Brodsky. The brain cancer survivor, marathon-running author of "Jodi, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told" has big hopes and dreams of seeing an AIDS Marathon in Africa. With a $5,000 entry fee required for all runners to compete, the concept seems quite ambitious and even attainable if each athlete solicits their business, school, friends, etc. 1,000 runners could raise $5,000,000 for AIDS sufferers. TV rights could fetch millions more. Airlines can do their part by transporting the runners and win the flight carrier invaluable public relations. To further commemorate the marathon, the US Postal Service could issue and promote a stamp that finally acknowledges AIDS. A portion of the proceeds of each stamp sold could be donated towards finding a cure for AIDS and providing medicine to AIDS sufferers in this country and abroad. Mr. Brodsky is very serious about this idea. He is requesting that a 501(c)3 nonprofit foundation manage this project and is even offering up his email address publicly (email@example.com) to explore the possibilities for anyone interested.
NEW YORK CITY MARATHON, 2003