Most helpful critical review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Read It, but Don't Lose Your Skepticism
on March 22, 2011
If you have prostate cancer, this book can add to your decision-making, but it should be read with some caution (despite the log-rolling reviews by eminent news guys). I don't doubt that Arthur Burnett is a skilled and compassionate surgeon, but it may be those very qualities that make this something of a distortion of treatment reality.
Nearly all the examples of survivors "speaking their minds" have come through surgery (performed by Burnett) with flying colors--usually cured and with side effects not dampening their spirits. There is one example of a man whose surgery was botched--but Burnett didn't do it, and in fact rescued him with further treatment. Hmmm...
It doesn't take much research to realize there are countless men whose lives have been devastated by the side effects prostatectomies--mostly incontinence and impotence, but other maladies as well. The feel-good stories in this book are only part of the story, and it seems shifty to present them as the typical outcome. Also, who are these survivors? Arnold Palmer? Ken Griffey? Pat Robertson? Rich guys who can afford any comfort to make their post-surgery miseries easier to bear.
If you're not rich, and you can't fly to Johns Hopkins to get Burnett to perform your surgery, I suspect your reality could be much different than what's represented in this book.
On the other hand, the book is to be commended highly for focusing on African-Americans and gay men with prostate cancer, the former because they are so highly at risk, and the latter because gays are invisible to most authors/doctors writing about prostate cancer. (Amazingly, this book not only features a gay man's story but acknowledges explicitly that gay sex lives are fundamentally different than, say, Pat Robertson's, and that may affect treatment choices.)
So read this book, for sure, BUT make sure you also read Patrick Walsh's "Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer," Gerald Chodak's "Winning the Battle Against Prostate Cancer," and Mark Scholz's "Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, among others.