Southfield man’s brain cancer journey comes to the stage

‘We’re both alive. We’re both gonna die.’

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published February 8, 2023

Photo provided


SOUTHFIELD — “I have a fatal condition. We all do. It’s called life,” Eric Goldstein says in his opening scene.

A year and a half ago, Goldstein made us laugh, cry and ponder mortality with his production, “Here We Go,” a one-man show depicting the journey of his brain cancer diagnosis.

With the uncertainty of the pandemic raging on, the Rosedale Community Players opted to direct the program and then post it on YouTube rather than risk the further spread of COVID-19.

The initial show did not charge a price and instead asked viewers to make a donation to the Henry Ford Hermelin Brain Tumor Center’s organization Game On Cancer to help families impacted by the emotional and financial hardships of glioblastoma.

“Here We Go Two Point Oh,” the updated version of the play, will grace the stage of the Rosedale Community Theatre in Southfield  at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 4, with the funds raised going to the RCP to help with the impacts of the pandemic.

Devene Godau, a stage manager at RCP, met Goldstein when he was directing a play there years before his diagnosis. The two hit it off immediately, and Godau recalls Goldstein stating that he never wanted to do another show without her as his stage manager. Godau said, “I think it takes a lot of strength to take this messy situation and turn it into a wonderful message as Eric has.”

But the Livonia assistant city attorney and lifelong lover of theater doesn’t view his brain cancer diagnosis as anything different than other challenges that people face in life.

In his opening scene, he states, “I’m still me. I just have this thing that’s kind of freaky. But when you think about it, I’m really not any different from you. We’re both alive. We’re both gonna die.”

In 2019 Goldstein noticed issues with his vision. He booked an eye exam, and they chalked it up to aging eyes and sent him away with eye drops. Goldstein began making small changes to his environment, like using lamps instead of overhead lighting.

About a year later, when Goldstein was standing in for an actor in a play he was directing, he noticed that his speech wasn’t aligning with the words he was reading. After another visit to the eye doctor, they sent him to an ophthalmologist. There they found that whatever was happening was affecting both eyes, which is unusual, and though they could confirm that there was indeed an impairment, they were unable to determine what was causing it.

“It’s all in my head, they say,” Goldstein jokes.

However, he wasn’t able to schedule the appointment without preapproval from his insurance company, and with the COVID-19 pandemic depleting the resources of hospitals, it wasn’t easy to get in. Goldstein began to feel anxious, but since they couldn’t see him yet, he thought that it was perhaps a benign tumor. He began to wonder about the urgency of his condition, since hospitals were asking people to defer at that time. During a virtual appointment with a neurologist, the doctor calmly recommended that he go through with the tests, so he did as he was told.

“With anxiety and panic a 10 and ‘it’s no big deal’ being a zero, at this point, I was probably a 3,” Goldstein said. “We got the report before any doctor was able to explain it to us. With my background with personal injury and a little bit of medical malpractice behind me, I’m no stranger to reading medical reports. I found that what I was looking at was a high-grade malignancy. The worst possible kind.”

Goldstein went in for surgery at the end of the week. Since the tumor had to be sent off to be studied before they could determine what kind it was, all of Goldstein’s efforts went to his recovery from the surgery. He describes the recovery period as a “glorious” time. After the surgery, he was left unable to do everyday tasks that once came easy to him. During the recovery period, he made strides every day through small victories, like being able to walk from one driveway to the next.

After a few weeks, the pathology report came back identifying the cancer as glioblastoma, what Goldstein refers to as the “Tasmanian Devil” of cancers. “There’s a study out there that says maybe five years. But it’s a lot grimmer than that. More than half don’t make it one year.”

Goldstein explains that data shows that of those diagnosed with glioblastoma, survival rates are 39.3% after one year, 16.9% after two years, 9.9% after three years and 2.9% after 10 years.

“If you can make it to the three-year mark, your chances of surviving get better,” Goldstein states in the play. “The longer you make it, your chances of making it longer improve.”

Now, nearly three years after the surgery, Goldstein’s life looks a lot different than before. Every 60 days he goes in for an MRI to make sure there’s no growth. He no longer drives himself places, and he dons an Optune device on his head that emits electric fields into his head as a means of creating a “tumor treatment field,” which is intended to slow tumor cells from dividing and spreading. There’s no cure, only treatment methods to deter growth.

Despite the brain cancer’s best efforts, it hasn’t stopped Goldstein from making the most of his time. Goldstein doesn’t shy away from a challenge, so when a colleague challenged him to write a play telling his story, he did, and that was “Here We Go.” From there, he started Here We Go Inc., a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status, to fundraise to provide a little bit of compensation so that when a theater hosts the production, they are able to keep all of the revenue from the ticket sales. Now, with another year and a half more of content, he revamped the original to bring us “Here We Go Two Point Oh.”

“This isn’t about me,” Goldstein emphasizes. “It’s about all of us. I can’t answer the question of ‘what are we doing here?’, but I certainly can offer some really, in-your-face perspective about what to do with this opportunity that we have in life, not from a preachy point of view, not from a guilty point of view or a moralistic point of view. No, none of that. That’s all up to you.”

To purchase tickets to the upcoming show, visit