An intimate account of a diagnosis of prostate cancer and its subsequent treatment.
Mac (Hallow Mass, 2016), a novelist and multi-Emmy–winning writer and producer for such animated programs as Animaniacs and Freakazoid, re-creates the harrowing experience of his brush with prostate cancer in 2014 at age 61. It all started with a follow-up visit to the doctor after an alarmingly irregular blood test. When a biopsy came back positive for malignancy, Mac spent “a few days awash in maudlin self-pity” before he and his wife, Joy, assessed the situation by doing some recommended reading (of Dr. Patrick Walsh’s Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer) and reviewing remission statistics. In this slim memoir, Mac imparts information from his research on the prostate gland, cancer treatment options, and how things such as prostate-specific antigen levels and Gleason test scores can determine severity, progression, and prognosis. He goes on to describe his entire treatment journey in exacting detail and with wit and candor that eschew the grimness of many other cancer memoirs. Having endured three previous major operations for other maladies, the author was no stranger to the world of physician referrals and treatment regimens. He also discusses his pricey COBRA insurance coverage after his job prospects dried up. After he agrees to a robotic radical prostatectomy procedure, the narrative flows through a mélange of preoperative and postoperative sensory observations that include all the gory details, including unexpected and troublesome complications. Mac’s ordeal is refreshingly leavened, though, by his unique brand of dark, sarcastic humor, as when he laments an unromantic byproduct of surgical recovery (“Wearing a big wet man diaper chilled my passion”). This often charming remembrance will leave readers with a new appreciation for good health and a more optimistic outlook when things go awry.
A smart, perceptive, and wryly humorous memoir about making the best out of a precarious situation.