Did you know that a man is 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer? So why aren't we talking about the "p word"? One man has decided that it's time to break the silence.
Sherman Goodrich is an award-winning cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and most nearly every major magazine. He’s produced hundreds of animated TV commercials and developed animation for Nickelodeon's "Rugrats" and "Wild Thornberrys."
And he's a prostate cancer survivor who, at the age 70, became the world’s oldest Body-for-Life Challenge Champion. He entered the international competition and won in the 46 and over class.
Sherman says his story is a lesson of never giving up. He entered the competition several times before he was finally able to compete, and the year he won, it came on the heels of a recurrence of his cancer.
He said he stumbled across the competition by accident as he was researching options for staying healthy since he could not do radiation again and his type of cancer was not an ideal candidate for surgery. He found that exercise may be the key to staying alive.
Now, Sherman has taken what he's learned from his cancer and turned it into a very informative -- and funny, yes funny! -- book about surviving prostate cancer.
Sherman tells Growing Bolder that he is still looking for a publisher but he's dreaming big. His ultimate goal is to have "The P Word" featured on Oprah.
"If anything can draw attention to such a significant subject, her show would head the list. She, without a doubt, possesses the modern day Midas Touch," he says.
The book features Sherman's personal journey, as well as his cartoons.
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, so it's only fitting that a man who not only has boldly battled his disease but is trying to get others talking about it should kick things off. Below is the Introduction from Sherman's book, "The P Word."
The ‘P’ Word (a user’s guide to prostate problems) is a book in search of a publisher. It’s not an important book in the sense that it’ll put an end to world hunger or reveal what makes The Apprentice a show that anybody would want to watch. It is, quite simply, an awareness book that deals with a subject that, in spite of the fact that it will lead to the untimely death of three to four American men within the next sixty minutes, remains cloaked in mystery for the most part.
Still, it is a subject with which every man should take the time to acquaint himself.
Its author, Sherman Goodrich, is a cartoonist and humor writer, having appeared as such on CBS TV and an untold number of downtown street corners. He is also co-founder and past president of the Southern California Cartoonists Society.
Credentials for this writing, however, were derived solely from his personal experience with Prostate Cancer. In addition to an endless array of allegedly snappy patter, a smattering of equally clever cartoon illustrations will accompany his writings on the subject.
More recently, and in spite of his ongoing battle with cancer, he competed in and won the international fitness title of 2009 Body-for-LIFE Champion in the 46 and over group…doing so at the tender age of seventy.
And so, in an effort to make more men aware of the possible pitfalls of possessing their very own prostate gland, Sherman has taken pen in hand, along with a generous dose of tongue in cheek, to paint a picture from a patient’s point of view of the many problems, or the lack thereof, that may arise as a direct result of nothing more than having been born into the male of the species.
With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.
Sherman Goodrich (…who also seems to suffer from speaking in the third person)
First of all, friends...let me assure you that the title or context of this book is in no way intended to imply that prostate problems of even the most finite nature are a laughing matter. I can promise you that, after years of standing over a commode at 4:AM with zero to show for my efforts but lack of sleep, nothing could be further from the truth. On the other hand, searching out the elusive seeds of humor that inadvertently planted themselves along the way have proven to be of significant palliative value.
I have since undergone eight solid weeks of intensive Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer in an unselfish effort to become even more of an authority on the subject. I remained catheterized for three months in the interest of scientific research and, of course, to avoid the ultimate embarrassment of blowing up in public (which I believe is illegal in certain sections of the South).
The "P" word, per se, makes direct reference to the Prostate. The Prostate however—not to be outdone—brings with it a lot of baggage on its journey through life, a host of which begins with the letter "P" as well. Part of the Package includes: Problems; Plumbing; Penis; Pleasure; Pain; Private Parts; just plain Pee; and for the uninsured...Penniless.
Before we continue, let’s get one item out of the way...statistics. To put the prostate predicament into proper perspective, it probably isn’t a bad notion to toss around some startling numbers, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.
With the exception of skin cancer, prostate cancer now holds the distinction of being the number one affliction among males, and ranks second only to lung cancer as the number one killer. It is perhaps pertinent to note here that colon cancer holds the current record as the number two killer of men and women combined.
At the going rate of over 192,000 new cases last year—that being 2009—in the United States alone (according to the American Cancer Society), this means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 526 guys got the good news each and every day. Out of these figures it is gleaned that another 3 man will die from this disease before your Timex has ticked off the next twenty minutes.
While the newly detected cases of breast cancer patients virtually paralleled those of the prostate, the mortality rate of prostate cancer patients accounted for approximately ten percent of related deaths in men, compared to about three percent of women who succumbed to breast cancer. In all fairness, I hasten to add that the female population in the U.S.A. is marginally larger.
Figures like these—again courtesy of the American Cancer Society—tend to label this disorder a formidable foe indeed, and not one with which to be trifled. I rather enjoy statistics from a spectator’s standpoint, but can’t seem to muster up the same degree of enthusiasm at the prospect of becoming one.
I also recognize, and will graciously take the time to point out that, in the course of reading about certain maladies and their respective symptoms, the imagination can display an awkward tendency to run amuck, making you believe that you yourself suddenly display all the same signs of a particular infirmity. It’s not my goal to turn any one of you into a hypochondriac, and to put your mind at ease, I believe I can prove my point post haste.
Ladies, if you are reading this book and you begin to note signs of displaying any, or even all of the symptoms of an ailing prostate, let me assure you that you have nothing to fear. Men and men alone are in possession of all of the prostate glands in the known free world and elsewhere to boot. Trust me when I tell you that even the most emancipated female doesn’t want to strive for equal rights on this one.
Conversely, if you are a male who is in the process of trying to assimilate some of this, and you feel an occasional twinge, you might want to get off your butt and give some consideration to acting on this peculiar phenomenon. Doing so might amount to what we call awareness, and for most males that’s a pretty big step. On the awareness scale, men are right up there with ragweed. Women have been way ahead of us in this department from the outset. We just weren’t aware of it. It is also interesting to note that, while women are impervious to prostate cancer, men do indeed get breast cancer. The male prostate and the female breast share certain similarities. They are made up of tissue that is very analogous in nature. They also succumb to a common type of cancer. The main difference seems to be, when you have an enlarged prostate....nobody whistles at you.
Incidentally, a few ladies, it has been rumored, may be inclined to look upon prostate problems as a fitting form of punishment for any number of men who have contributed in some fashion to their own personal misery. If you happen to fall into this particular category, you might want to read on, if only as a source of amusement.
On the other hand, the vast majority of female readers will most likely continue—If at all—for somewhat more substantial reasons. Somewhere along the line, prostate problems, from the benign to the malignant, will probably plague someone you care for, be it a boyfriend, husband, brother, father or famous person that you happen to admire. Your support can serve as a great source of comfort and, speaking from experience, can help take the bumps out of this rocky road that is otherwise peppered with potholes and paved with pain.
Other than that, gentlemen, it’s just you and me against this innocuous little organ that perches precariously between our respective bladders and our penis (one possible reason for not getting a lot of good press). From this vantage point, the prostate gland proceeds to either function in an orderly fashion or, at any given moment, can bring us to our knees. And no one is exempt. Some are just luckier than others.
In the following pages I will attempt to introduce you to the finer points of this little piece of equipment in laymen’s terms. I’m not a doctor, so I’ll not bore you with some of the more poetic medical terms that apply to your body parts and their various malfunctions. I will, on the other hand, call a penis a penis—as opposed to a pee pee or a wiener—If you get my drift.
In the long run, I hope you get way more chuckles out of this collection of my experiences than I did compiling them in the first place. However, and above all, I hope that which follows…if not some of what you have already taken into account…will somehow motivate you, as an adult male, to set aside your trepidation (read: agonizing fear) long enough to have the dreaded digital exam and/or a simple PSA blood test to determine whether or not everything is up to par in the prostate department.
As with most other ailments that can have serious consequences, early detection is the best friend you’ll ever have. Were it not for that, I might very well be writing these words of wisdom from an urn on my widow’s mantelpiece.
If you're interested in learning more about Sherman's book, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.