Conquering prostate cancer with a mix of medicine, spirituality, love, and intimacy
If you know a man who has been diagnosed prostate cancer—or a woman who loves him—give them a copy of Conquer Prostate Cancer by Rabbi Ed Weinsberg and urologist Robert Carey, MD, PhD.
Weinsberg has written my favorite kind of cancer book: A survivor with special skills and training in a related field (in this case a spiritual leader who has a degree in gerontology) writes a well-researched book that uses his or her own experience to bring together all sides of a topic, including the most current research and voices of medical professionals and other survivors. Because of his spiritual base, Weinsberg goes one step further by addressing mind, body, spirituality, and intimacy issues with candor and clarity. As he says in the book’s preface, “Apart from medicine and faith, love and sex have a lot to do with recovering from prostate cancer and its adverse treatment outcomes.”
Weinsberg was 62 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2007. He and his wife Yvonne had just moved to their retirement home in Sarasota, Florida. They immediately began researching his options while following the lead of local medical professionals. He made a few missteps, which he freely admits, ultimately deciding on robotic surgery to remove his prostate.
But unlike many “this is my story and I have the answer” books, Weinsberg brings in his doctors and other professionals to talk to readers. In discussing his surgery, he gives us a minute-by-minute explanation of what he does to prepare mentally and physically—up until the moment he goes under from anesthesia. At this point, his surgeon, Carey, takes over, explaining exactly what he had to do to remove the cancer and rebuild Weinsberg’s bladder neck. Weinsberg also quotes studies (that he documents in the sources section), and moves into those very difficult subjects of sex and intimacy to help his readers look at all the aspects of this cancer diagnosis, treatment, healing, and after-effects.
We all know that men are not good at talking about areas below the waist, particularly when there is a problem, but for Weinsberg, nothing is sacred—and everything is sacred. He addresses, with amazing candor the issues of male hormones (see excerpt), incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and relationships. Clearly, the years he spent counseling his congregants has given him a special insight into the human condition, which he uses to gather information from other men about their choices in treatment and the emotional and physical toll that had to be addressed.
He is also minutely aware of his own feelings, failings, and faith, and—with his wife Yvonne’s input—he is able to take the reader where few authors can go in terms of understanding the intricacies of the male-female relationship.
Weinsberg has created a blog at www.conquerprostatecancer.com, which provides resources and updates on treatment. It’s clear that this man who committed his life to his faith has found a new mission in retirement.