Last week I recommended that you take the “Perisho Prescription”, that is, get your minimal daily dose of humor from Jerry Perisho’s two excellent PC-related blogs, http://prostatecancerblog.net/?p=498. I am following up with the “Perisho Prescription, Part II”. Would you believe that in this climate of gloom and doom I am recommending that you read a book about cancer to cheer yourself up?
I am, because Jerry’s memoir of of life with prostate cancer,”I Barf, Therefore I Am: A Sensitive Comedy Writer’s Relationship With Cancer”, is tender, uplifting and beautifully written. Jerry treats the subject matter with the appropriate gravitas, but he liberally intersperses wit and humor. This is the work of a pro, and it shows.
And the take-home message is positive:
“I went through surgery, hormone therapy and chemotherapy and came out of it a stronger and better man. You can, too.”
Four years ago, Jerry Perisho had a good life. He was s a 52-year- old bank executive and comedy writer with a loving wife, three wonderful, accomplished sons and lots of good friends. And the backdrop for all this was balmy Southern California.
Then came “Hurricane Carcinoma” and upturned everything.
Being diagnosed with cancer is a knockout punch for everybody, even those with good “shock absorbers”. But Jerry picked himself up, took stock of his resources and put them to good use. First, he designated his wife, Christa, as his “patient-advocate”. She was to write down everything the doctors said. This is a great idea because the newly diagnosed patient is often too muddled to pay attention.
Then Jerry, Christa and the boys reviewed the medical information, did some research of their own, and decided on a treatment, minimally-invasive (robotic) surgery with Dr. Tim Wilson at City of Hope Cancer Center in suburban L.A.
Jerry’s description of the high-quality care he received from his “Dream Team” at City of Hope is truly inspiring. Everybody there treated him like family, he writes. So after the dust settled, Jerry and Christa returned to the hospital with a big basket of fresh bing cherries to give to the staff.
There are some truly hilarious anecdotes in this book. At one point we find the 6’6″ patient mentally preparing himself for “androgen deprivation” therapy. He decides he can deal with the mood swings and the hot flashes. But he worries that he’ll be tempted to blow the rent money on umpteen pairs of “cute, size 13 shoes”. ROFL.
And imagine this scene: Jerry is being interviewed by a nurse the day after surgery. She assures him that everything will be okay But almost as an afterthought she adds:
“You know your scrotum could swell to the size of a grapefruit. And there’s a chance your penis will turn black.”
But the best part of Jerry’s book is the patient-to-patient advice, the inside information you can’t get from any doctor, medical text or even the Internet. You have to hear it from someone who’s Been There. So I found the appendix to Jerry’s book, “Lessons I’ve Learned”, particularly helpful.
You can’t get the “Perisho Prescription” at your local pharmacy, but it is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.