Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although prostate cancer may well be "the male equivalent of breast cancer," as Korda (The Immortals) here contends, it has yet to acquire an equivalent canon of literature charting the physical and emotional tolls of the illness. This intensely candid, engaging and sharply witty memoir, akin in approach and tone to Norman Cousins's memoir of his battle with heart disease, The Healing Heart, bears witness to the soul-searching, medical options and singularly male difficulties associated with prostate cancer-and will prove an extremely valuable resource. Korda, editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster, underwent a radical prostatectomy after being diagnosed with cancer in October 1994, at age 60. His is a particularly privileged case. After his surgery was performed by Patrick Walsh of Johns Hopkins ("the Michelangelo of prostate surgery"), Korda was medivacced to his home in upstate New York. But readers of any economic bracket will appreciate his frank and humorous treatment of the prostate troubles that preceded his diagnosis; his terror of surgical pain ("I approach a routine colonoscopy as one might a firing squad"); the maddening repercussions of his surgery, including severe incontinence and impotence; and the fraternity he finds at a local prostate cancer support group. "A deadly, silent scourge," prostate cancer strikes at the core of a man's masculinity; it can end a career and place extreme pressure on a marriage, Korda observes. Faced with an array of conflicting opinions and experimental treatments, men afflicted with prostrate cancer, Korda concludes, must be as well informed as possible, in part by learning the kind of communication and sharing that perhaps comes more easily to women-and should never give up hope. (May)
For Simon and Schuster editor-in-chief and author Korda (Charmed Lives, 1979), it was devastating: on October 22, 1994 he was told he had cancer. Like Korda, over 200,000 American men are told every year that they have joined the prostate cancer club. The disease will take over their lives as fears of incontinence, impotence, pain, and death begin to spook their minds. Korda writes frankly of his experience and translates his sick-role ordeal into a read as artful as a novel. Although few readers will have Korda's entree to the medical establishment, his clear and practical not-to-be-left-to-the-last-minute logistical advice, frank and informative presentation of his prostate cancer trials, and follow-up advice on support groups make this moving personal account highly recommended. [See also Swanton's An Rx for Men's Health Collections, LJ 1/96, p. 53-56; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/96.]-James Swanton, Harlem Hospital Lib., New York
The title (to say nothing of the subtitle) practically demands that a man review this book. But none of the men here wanted to, and that's the first problem that Korda addresses. Prostate cancer is to men what breast cancer is to women, occurring at about the same rate. But while breast cancer is all over the news, and women are comfortable discussing the issue with each other, men don't want to know about their prostates--and that can kill them. This is quite an amazing book, and even more amazing is the fact that Korda is its author. The legendary editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster and the best-selling author of Charmed Lives (1981) would not appear to be someone likely to bare his soul (and his private parts) in public, but talking to people about prostate cancer has obviously become a mission to him. At age 60, Korda had experienced previous problems with an enlarged prostate, but he ate and drank moderately, exercised religiously, and didn't smoke. One day he was well, at the top of his game, and the next day he learned he had cancer; after that, his life was never the same. He spares readers no details about the changes, chronicling every test, every postsurgical pain, the particulars of his post-op incontinence and impotence, as well as his psychological ups and downs. Yet despite the depressing facts it conveys, Korda's account is an essentially positive, often laugh-out-loud funny, and above all, very human book. Perhaps that's because the writing is so wonderfully personal. It's as though Korda were putting his arm around the reader and saying, "Look, I'm going to give it to you straight. It's going to be bad, but there are things you can do to make it easier, and here's what they are." Now, if we can just get the men to listen.
A riveting, candid, first-person account of one man's encounter with prostate cancer.
Every year some 200,000 men in this country are diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 1994, Korda, editor in chief of Simon and Schuster and a master storyteller (The Immortals, 1992, etc.), became one of them. He relates, doctor by doctor, test by test, fear by fear, how it changed his life. Initially referred to Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Prostate Cancer Detection Center in New York City, he began a learning process there that he shares honestly and clearly with readers. After interviewing both a surgeon and a radiologist and listening to the advice of prostate cancer survivors, he opted for surgery at Johns Hopkins. His surgeon was Dr. Patrick Walsh, inventor of a nerve-sparing technique for radical prostatectomy that offered Korda the hope of retaining sexual potency. Following surgery, however, it was not impotence but incontinence, with its stigma and potential for humiliating accidents, that became his major concern. Although Korda is amazingly frank in his discussion of his problems, male readers are likely to find his experiences more reassuring than alarming. Happily, by book's end, some nine months after surgery, he seems to be well on the way to living a normal life. While the book is as difficult to put down as a good thriller, Korda's account is notable for the amount of solid information about prostate cancer that he weaves into this very personal story. In Korda's view, knowledge is power, and he urges all men to learn as much as possible about prostate cancer before it happens to them.
Not the final word on prostate cancer detection or treatment, but a great awareness-raiser and highly recommended for any man who has, or has ever had, a prostate.