Sunday, January 29, 2012

How We Survived Prostate Cancer

I mentioned Victoria Hallerman’s book, “How We Survived Prostate Cancer”, last week. It jumped off the shelf into my hands at the local bookstore because of the word “We” in the title.

She had me at “we”. Victoria is a wife, and her husband has prostate cancer and the book is about both of them as they go through this experience. That’s been something I care deeply about and why I write and speak about relationships and cancer. I see how often spouses and partners are left out of the equation by the medical community. Yes, there’s that obsequious nod to caregivers in the magazines and by professionals –but we’ll know they mean it when caregiver services are part of the deductible.

Hallerman’s book is terrific. The subtitle also tells you a lot: “What we did and what we should have done.” So as you can guess, she tells their mistakes, missteps and shares a lot about the hard parts they had to go through. And she writes a lot about their sexual experiences and sexual consequences and the cost and gain to their marriage—and she does not sugar coat it. A man with no testosterone and extra estrogen is not sexy, and when he is also incontinent, grouchy and physically ill—for a long time—it’s not a made for TV movie romance.

But that is what makes me love this book and Hallerman. I know that cancer and caregiving are not made for TV movies. Those movies hurt more than they help. But truth, honesty, humor and woman-to-woman talking have always helped me.

Yes, the book is about Hallerman’s experience with her husband’s prostate cancer but this book and its ideas translate immediately into any other cancer diagnosis. It’s about what they did and didn’t do as a couple and the medical and emotional costs of those choices. This book will be valuable if your cancer is breast or brain or lung or colon. If you have a partner in the battle read this book.

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