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Jewish Journal

Prostate Cancer: A View From The Trenches

by Nancy Sokoler Steiner

May 3, 2001 | 8:00 pm

"You Can't Make Love If You're Dead: Curing Prostate Cancer and Keeping My Sexuality" by Leon Prochnik (Ari Press, $19.95)

Looking back on his experience with prostate cancer, author and screenwriter Leon Prochnik realized that what he'd needed when first diagnosed was a "trench buddy," someone who'd faced the same battle and could tell him what to expect and how to cope.

The result was "You Can't Make Love If You're Dead," an intimate and candid account of how Prochnik came to terms with his disease and went about deciding on a treatment. Prostate cancer threatens not only a man's life but also his masculinity, since treatments have the potential to render a man incontinent and/or impotent. Prochnik shares the agony of facing his mortality as well as the other distressing possibilities.

In an effort to give men facing prostate cancer a true understanding of the emotional and physical trials in store, Prochnik spares no details. He shares his sexual escapades, his feelings about orgasm, and the ins and outs of his prostate biopsy. He describes masturbating as a child and having sex with his wife before surgery.

Given that 75 percent of prostate cancers strike men over the age of 65, it may be that the very people for whom the book was written would least appreciate Prochnik's candor. Most guys in their 60's and 70's would sooner have a root canal than read such intimacies. The book actually may be more suited for the wives of men diagnosed with the disease, as it compellingly presents the hurdles couples may face.

Prochnik's battle story may leave some guys a little shell-shocked, but it provides just the ammunition a man needs in confronting prostate cancer.

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