Book Reviews - Our Journey with Prostate Cancer
Other than skin cancer, one of the most common cancers among American men is prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society predicates that for the year 2014 in the USA 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed and approximately 29,480 men will die of this disease. It is further estimated that during his lifetime about one man in seven will be diagnosed with this type of cancer. Globally, it is the second most common type of cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in men.
Most prostate cancers grow slowly, however, unfortunately there are some that are extremely aggressive and progress rapidly. The cancer cells may also spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. And the chilling part is that initially you may not even have any symptoms! In later stages it can cause difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, or pain in the pelvis, back or when urinating. There is good news, however, today more men are being cured of this disease than ever before.
In 2011 Judith Anne Desjardins’ husband was one of those one in seven unlucky men when he received the devastating news that he had a very aggressive form of prostate cancer. It was not the low-risk, “active surveillance” kind of cancer but rather the dangerous, life-threatening type. And as Desjardins states in the Prologue to her Our Journey with Prostate Cancer:Empowering Strategies for Patients and Families: “it was as if we had been shot into the air by a cannon.”
Using extracts from her daily journal, Desjardins presents her own personal detailed account of the emotional and psychological roller coaster that prostate cancer has on herself and her husband. Her motive for writing her book is to offer guidance and earnestly share her and her husband’s ongoing experiences in dealing with prostate cancer in the hopes that her readers will find comfort and power whether they are patients or the patient’s loved ones.
Dividing her book into seven chapters, Desjardins, in her highly effective writing style, offers a host of suggestions and sage advice pertaining to the navigation of the medical system, insights into your own emotional-psychological-spiritual processes, a blueprint for battling prostate cancer, and “the courage to fight prostate cancer with all of your might-while maintaining a loving relationship.” Her journey includes the shock of her husband’s diagnosis, his facing of immediate fears, their finding out all there is to know about prostate cancer, its treatment options, robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy, which her husband underwent, waiting for the first post-surgery PSA results, androgen deprivation therapy and radiation as well as what comes after this latter treatment.
Without a doubt, Our Journey with Prostate Cancer serves as an excellent primer and provides essential reading for anyone that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Desjardins is very candid in presenting the facts and nothing is sugar-coated or downplayed concerning the seriousness of prostate cancer. What’s more, she has shown a great deal of compassion for the families and her readers by her elucidation and frank presentation of the procedures for diagnosis and treatment options while meticulously examining their risks, rewards, issues, complications and after-effects which can and often do arise after prostate cancer has been diagnosed. Throughout the book, she also underlines the importance of supporting one’s husband, to be open to changes that the diagnosis and treatments will present and above all to be assertive in being your own advocate. As she states: “When you’re dealing with cancer you don’t have time to be timid, laid back, or hopeful that someone else is going to take care of you.” What is more, she is a very strong proponent that your spirit is your strongest personal weapon and must be incorporated into your plan of action, and incidentally, this is likewise applicable to any form of cancer or life threatening disease and not necessarily prostate cancer. Kudos to Desjardins for her courage and for sharing her experiences and that of her husband’s in fighting prostate cancer.
Readers who anticipate that Judith Anne Desjardins’ Our Journey with Prostate Cancer: Empowering Strategies for Patients and Families will be an autobiography of experience would be missing the point, here: it’s not just another experiential story, but is intended as a Guided Meditation for inspiration and empowerment, and as such is an important tool in one’s cancer-fighting artillery.
From the initial shock of diagnosis and handling the emotions that affect individuals, families, and circles of friends to weighing prostate cancer treatment options and results, Our Journey with Prostate Cancer provides plenty of medical and spiritual insights and considers the entire process of recovery to include spiritual development; not just those surrounding treatment options and alternative therapies.
In this, Our Journey with Prostate Cancer digresses from other cancer stories: it takes the doctor-centric focus of diagnosis and gives a dose of power back to the patient, who actually faces many choices and options, from reactions to treatment to overall life changes.
Patients are often isolated in their pain and concerns, doctors adopt professional detachment, and in such a milieu, spiritual and psychological concerns may be pushed aside. Our Journey adopts a cooperative attitude about the experience (thus, the ‘our’, which includes readers as well as patients) and considers quality-of-life choices for patients, family members, medical professionals and any on the front lines of cancer treatment and research.
Chapters are packed with recommendations on handling everything from anxiety attacks to fear, whether it surrounds cancer, money concerns, or personal relationships. They include journal excerpts, visualization exercises, and discussions with God, family and self.
Judith Anne Desjardins has created a unique chronicle in the annals of cancer experience and research by incorporating a range of multi-faceted approaches to handling cancer and its challenges, juxtaposing perspectives from journal entries (by not only herself but others), and creating an atmosphere of positive honesty: one which provides concrete images, approaches, and insights.
Any reader interested in choosing empowerment over illness will find Our Journey with Prostate Cancer an inviting, easy and thought-provoking read, filled with a variety of reflections, strategies and options!
For anyone, writing a book about a private, personal battle with an illness would be a momentous task. But to write a book about a personal experience and turn it into an advice guide for others is quite a serious challenge. Author Judith Anne Desjardins was more than ready for this challenge after she published her true account of her husband’s battle with prostate cancer.
To tell her family’s story, Desjardins uses bits and pieces from her own journals to chronicle the ups-and-downs of taking care of her husband. By telling their story along with her own journal entries, Desjardins gives others a unique insight into not only their emotional and physical health, but their mental and spiritual health at the time as well. Their experiences allow the readers to empathize with her story, which offers a sense of catharsis to readers that may be experiencing something similar. She never glosses over her own frustrations or appears as the perfect Saint; instead, she chooses complete honesty in publishing her thoughts as they were at the time, even when she was struck with depression.
In between her journal entries, the author intercuts their story with meditations, recommendations and guides for checking in on one’s spiritual and mental health. Each guide asks reflective questions, as well as realistic ones such as making sure everyone’s affairs are in order in case of death. These are questions that the reader knows Desjardins must have asked herself at some point or another.
The author has an interesting background as a former social worker at St. John’s Hospital. Her advice is not simply from her husband’s battle with illness but it is knowledge she gained working with patients, doctors, nurses, and patients’ family members. She is able to key in on the human psyche and mental capacity so well and it shows beautifully in these guides.
Another important aspect of Desjardins writing is her personal relationship with God. Throughout the book, she mentions instances when she needed to call for help from a higher power. Even if readers are not religious, they could use her examples of drawing on God for strength as a means to explore who or what keeps them afloat in times of need. Even though the book contains many details about prostate cancer, her advice transcends this particular disease and could be useful to anyone dealing with a potentially terminal illness, as well as their loved ones. This book would be quite the useful tool to help readers cope during a difficult time
Our Journey with Prostate Cancer is truly a must-have for anyone who receives this diagnosis and for their caregivers; to help them understand just what their loved one is actually going through. You will find many wonderful tips to guide you through each and every day of your journey.
It is always lovely when someone offers another option to a difficult situation. In this heart-felt book, Judith Anne Desjardins opens a door and allows the readers to enter a world full of hope. Thank you to the entire Desjardins family for sharing such an inspirational account of your life!
Our Journey with Prostate Cancer” by Judith Anne Desjardins is an authentic true story of an incredibly difficult and personal journey. Ms. Desjardins shares her thoughts, feelings and words with us through her journal writings and storytelling, capturing the attention of the reader from page one.
The author shares the personal story of her husband’s journey with prostate cancer as well the effects it has on her as his spouse. She provides a wealth of suggestions and tips for others on the same journey, including pre-operation ideas, lists of depression symptoms, self-care suggestions, and even how to be a warrior. Her own emotions and thoughts are shared in the raw, allowing the reader to connect with their story. I found my own emotions following the roller coaster that they were on as I read the book.
This book covers quite a bit of detail about therapies used in prostate cancer, and I learned an incredible amount about cancer in general and specifically prostate cancer. Ms. Desjardins talks openly about possible side effects of different treatments and the struggles her husband had with wanting to regain control of his own life. It becomes clear how difficult the decision making can be when taking all the side effects into consideration.
Another aspect of this book is the spiritual journey shared between the author and God. She openly prays as she fights for the health of her husband and herself. Ms. Desjardins is very open as she struggles with hope when dark times are upon them. She also finds comfort in activities beyond the cancer, which help restore joy and peace.
“Our Journey with Prostate Cancer” by Judith Anne Desjardins provides a thorough description of the entire journey of prostate cancer, and can be easily applied to any type of cancer. Not only was this book incredibly informative by providing detailed descriptions of many processes, treatments, stages of emotions, and other important information, it is also a comfort to know that others are going through the same struggles. I will keep this book for future reference because cancer is a very real possibility for every family.
Thank you for writing this book and sharing your journey of this experience. I am changed from reading this book and I know everyone who reads this book will find comfort and healing. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to be informed of the journey of cancer.
Our Journey with Prostate Cancer by Judith Anne Desjardins begins with “In November 2011, my husband was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of prostate cancer.” It follows their shared battle up until very recently.
Don’t let “Prostate” in the title cause you to think you or a loved one suffering from prostate cancer are the only ones I would recommend this book to. The journey that takes place in this book is well worth the read even if you, your loved, a family member or a friend don’t even have cancer of any kind. All the suggestions mentioned in the book and the experiences movingly documented in journal entries from Nov. 11 to April 3, 2014 apply to all of life’s difficulties. The suggestions are practical guides to living life to the fullest by carefully administering to the needs of body, minds, hearts and souls.
What I found interesting was in the beginning chapters that took place in the 70’s long before Desjardins met her husband and was doing social work with cancer patients and their families. Then fast forward to the married woman who learns her husband has cancer and you realize the shock the diagnosis has even when you think you have experience with the disease and helping others who have it.
The book is both inspiring and depressing for you the reader as you follow the roller coaster ride of the journey with Desjardins and her husband. The ups and downs become your ups and downs while you hope as they hope the tale has a happy ending. They are not survivors of cancer so much as they are warriors in the seemingly never ending battle against the Big C.
I highly recommend this book to everyone but especially those who are fighting the good fight in whatever battles life may throw your way.