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Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer by Michael Korda
continuing Part II - Surgery

Page 117 - (go to page 116)

''How could he do this to me?'' is what a lot of women must feel, yet they cannot say it out loud, or even think it, without feeling guilty. Fear — fear of the unknown, fear that he's going to die, fear that even if he doesn't die he will emerge from all this a different person — breeds anger, as fear always does, made stronger in this case by the fact that it can't be expressed.

It's strange, I think, that nobody has written about this side of prostate cancer. Surgeons — mostly men, since urology remains a largely male specialty — ignore it completely. In their view, the woman's role is to be supportive during the surgery and caring after ward, part cheerleader, part Red Cross nurse. To judge by the books on prostate cancer and the advice to patients handed out prior to surgery, one would suppose that every marriage is a bedrock-solid equal partnership, but in real life this is hardly always the case.

The truth is that prostate cancer inevitably involves the most difficult and frequently unresolved areas of a relationship. The direct threat to a man's sexual identity and ability to perform can hardly fail to have an effect on the relationship. Women must ask themselves how impotence, if it results, will affect the relationship, how they will feel about it themselves, how it will change things. Questions are likely to include: ''What will he be like if he can't have sex?''; ''How will I feel about that?''; ''How will we handle it?''

It goes without saying that men who can talk to their wives freely about their innermost feelings and fears, not to mention their sexuality, will do better in facing the problems of prostate cancer than those for whom this is not the case, but, frankly, how many people can say that about their marriage? Mostly, these are exactly the subjects that men find it difficult to talk about and share with their wives. The mere fact of being diagnosed as having prostate cancer is not likely to transform the average husband into a sensitive, articulate man, eager to discuss his darkest fears at length with his wife.

Selections reproduced at with the kind permission of the author. Copyright © 1996, 1997 by Success Research Corporation

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