HIT BELOW THE BELT

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The author—an oncologist diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998—recounts his own overwhelming & frightening experience with the disease while providing timely medical information about it. In this book, doctor-turned-patient F. Ralph Berberich speaks out about prostate cancer's assault on his mind, body, and sexuality.

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Overview

The author—an oncologist diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998—recounts his own overwhelming & frightening experience with the disease while providing timely medical information about it. In this book, doctor-turned-patient F. Ralph Berberich speaks out about prostate cancer's assault on his mind, body, and sexuality.

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Editorial Reviews

Fore Word Magazine
"I became a cancer case on July 31, 1998. That was the day I walked into the MRI room, having Been assigned a medical record number. I emerged seemingly unchanged, not knowing that cancer would be discovered, that I would be the bearer of a diagnosis, precipitously cast into a pool of like-fated individuals destined to share common paths."
So begins this remarkable book, an expertly woven memoir and informational text written by a pediatric oncologist who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at a relatively young age. Although it is full of basic information regarding the cancer and its treatment options, it is never boring or pedantic. Berberich's honesty and writing skills are such that the book is actually entertaining in a morbid sort of way. What he has attempted to do is provide the reader with his story, that of the cancer patient: how he reacted, his emotions, the lengths he personally went to to avoid surgery, and a deliberate attempt to describe how certain procedures and side effects felt in a way that the reader can understand.
He also has declined the use of euphemisms for anatomical organs, and settled for the straightforward use of penis, rectum, prostate, and bladder, among others, explaining that these taboos too easily confuse what he's trying to say. He is just as honest about how hormone therapy and prostate procedures effect sexual drive and sexual activity. Never crude or coarse, he is nonetheless refreshingly direct. Because Berberich is a physician, he took refuge in research. Lots and lots of research, to the extent that it became, not only to him, but to his friends and family, a way to avoid actually beginning treatment. He honestly-and bluntly-discusses why he tried to avoid surgery, full aware that he was not completely rational in this. Berberich shares his quirks, his neuroses, and his fears.
After his research, his seeemingly endless searches for "second opinions," after finally picking his therapy, completing it, and having some severe side effects, he says, "I was not myself from the moment of diagnosis to the present and have had to painstakingly crawl back toward a remembered normalcy. I may never be quite the person I was before all of this began." Neither will the reader.
Library Journal
It seems that not a month goes by without news that another famous American has been struck "below the belt" by prostate cancer (PCa): Rudolph Giuliani, Charlton Heston, Bob Dole. Although a physician himself (pediatric oncology), Berberich reacted with the same anxieties, fears, and stresses to his PCa diagnosis that other men in similar straits experience. He relates straightforwardly how he set about choosing the therapeutic options to which he would submit, and his analysis of the various therapies the advantages and disadvantages of each is the most rewarding part of his book. Because of Berberich's broad professional contacts, his book is filled with a variety of expert PCa advice unavailable to ordinary PCa patients. In this way, it most resembles Saralee and Robert Fine's Prostate Cancer: A Doctor's Personal Triumph (LJ 9/1/99). However, Berberich's continual second-guessing of expert medical advice is tedious, and he does not provide a bibliography for references mentioned in the text. When it comes to physicians-as-PCa-patients, James E. Payne's Me Too: A Doctor Survives Prostate Cancer (LJ 4/15/95) remains a classic of the genre. Despite its drawbacks, Berberich's book is still a useful contribution to the PCa literature. James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587610776
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

F. RALPH BERBERICH, M.D., began recording his own medical odyssey shortly after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in August 1998. A pediatrician, former oncologist, and co-author of The Available Pediatrician, Dr. Berberich lives and practices medicine in Berkeley, CA.
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction 1
2. The Saga Begins 16
3. Entering the Maze 39
4. The Path Not Taken 60
5. Talking to Everyone 80
6. The Balance Unbalanced 101
7. Tattoos and Zaps 127
8. Sowing Seeds 151
9. A Punch Absorbed 163
10. On Fire 183
11. Steady State 199
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2001

    So this is really what a person goes through!

    Dr. Berberich's book tells of his personal journey through the experience of prostate cancer. It describes in a very real way the emotional and intellectual turmoil that this disease can bring to a formerly healthy man. In this book, the author presents in intimate detail the essence of one man's experience with prostate cancer. His description of the impact of prostate cancer on his daily life could be very supportive to someone confronting this disease. Berberich's portrait of his search for just the right treatment is quite detailed, as is the analysis of his doubts of his physicians' recommendations. The previous review misses the point when he describes the decision making process as 'tedious.' It is just that! Berberich writes of a process fraught with conflicting expert opinions, uncertainty, fear, and unhappy, difficult choices. His questioning is an inspiration to patients who fear questioning or challenging the medical professional. As a lay person, I would not have a clue as to the many different treatment options, or how certain physicians, such as surgeons, may have a propensity to recommend a treatment regimen which dovetails with their own specialty, when other treatment options may be preferable. Overall, I found the book an easy and educational read. If a man lives long enough, it is almost certain that he will contract prostate cancer. This book is a very accessible primer for the inevitable.

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