WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL: A Memoir of My Triumph over Illness by Max Lerner
Kirkus Star

WRESTLING WITH THE ANGEL: A Memoir of My Triumph over Illness

Email this review


From age 78 to 82, redoubtable columnist/author/lecturer/professor Lerner battled and whipped two malignancies (large-cell lymphoma and prostate cancer) plus a heart attack. He also endured an unsuccessful spleen-removal surgery (it was too tangled with other organs) and an exploratory lung operation (which revealed only benign growths). Throughout, he continued writing his thrice-weekly syndicated column and managed, with some interruptions, to continue lecturing and teaching How he did it and how his diseases affected his rational and spiritual outlook are what this intensely personal book is all about. Lerner listened to his doctors' recommendations--as well as those of son Michael, who heads an alternative treatment community, and son Adam, then a medical school student, now an oncology specialist--and made up his own mind as to his treatment. For the lymphoma, he agreed to chemotherapy (which made him deathly ill) but eschewed radiation. Faced with either castration or female hormone therapy as the treatments of choice for prostate cancer, he opted for an experimental drug that, happily, effected a cure. He believes that participation in treatment decisions energizes patients and contributes to cures. A major survival factor was his belief that there was still so much to accomplish: completing several partly written books, including his autobiography, and fulfilling his new desire to plumb the meaning of existence. To strengthen his immune system, Lerner practiced visual imagery--envisioning malignant cells succumbing to medications--and wrote in his journal, ""I can live."" As a survivor, he found himself talking to and thanking God""as a respectful, affectionate subject of a King who looks after humans. . ."" A remarkable tale of the triumph of the human spirit over medical odds--a worthy companion to Norman Cousins' Anatomy of an Illness.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1990
ISBN: 0671740954
Publisher: Norton