ForeWord Reviews

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Dead Men Don't Have Sex

A Guy's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer

Clarion Review (4 Stars)

You’ve got cancer.

And so begins the manic, fear-driven scramble to comprehend, cope with, and hopefully defeat one of life’s penultimate demons. Add the very real fear of a life without erections as a side effect to victory, and one is faced with a Pyrrhic dilemma.

Nearly 200,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, and the search for high quality resources to help them in their battle to stay alive and sexually active can be a daunting and sacred endeavor. Fortunately, there are people like Robert Hill, who lived through the diagnosis, surgery, and all important post-surgery months and years, and felt drawn to share his experiences. Dead Men Don’t Have Sex can and should be added to the short list of must-read books for men who are confronted with a prostate cancer diagnosis, and their families.

For men who are in a hurry to know the answers to a multitude of questions, many of them highly personal, the format of Dead Men Don’t Have Sex is perfect. The table of contents will get the reader to what he or she needs to know in ten seconds or less, with such sub-headings as, “What surgery is really like” and “Four things every woman should know about prostate cancer.” Additionally, he uses a journal format throughout, with day 1 being the day of his diagnosis, day 31 his surgery, day 63 his first time being intimate with his wife after the surgery, and day 365 the final entry in the book, with a well-done synopsis of his year.

The author’s style is lighthearted and conversational. For example, in chapter nine, “Turn out the lights, the party’s not over,” he writes:

The two Is (incontinence and impotence) of prostate cancer surgery are a real bastard. When you throw in the overwhelming depression that accompanies them for good measure, it’s a potentially lethal combination of emotions and discomfort all rolled into one nice neat package. Convenient as it sounds, it’s a real bitch to deal with.

Unfortunately, when it comes to talking about sex, Hill uses euphemism and generalities. He tells readers that he and wife had sex and that he satisfied her without getting an erection, but he does not talk about how he did it or could have done it. For so many men and women, shyness about finding sexual fulfillment without erections is very real. Also, nothing is said about alternatives to surgery and naturopathic methods one could use to hasten recovery and prevent recurrence of the cancer. When fighting this demon, no stones should be left unturned, and Hill is to be commended for kicking most of them over.

Patty Sutherland