A humorous journey through prostate surgery (no, seriously)

Prostate cancer used to be thought of as a later-in-life disease, one that affected men as they approached retirement age. But increasingly, younger men (even those in their 30s) are getting diagnosed with the disease. Salisbury resident Jamie MacKenzie, who had his prostate removed at the age of 59 (he’s 60 now), wants to spread the word that it’s never too soon for men to begin to protect themselves for a cancer that is easily cured —if it’s caught early enough.“When I got the shocking news,” he said, “I cried and I screamed and then I called everyone I knew and, within three minutes, a friend in Florida said, ‘We’re all going to get cancer, and this is the one you want to get.’ “He had me laughing in minutes, and I realized this is a curable cancer.”MacKenzie found that laughter and good information helped him get through the ordeal of diagnosis, surgery and life-after-prostate, and decided to write a book to help other men.In addition to offering comfort and guidance, he said, “my mission is to encourage men and women to get tested for cancer.”MacKenzie began life as an artist but, in recent years, has made his living as an actor, doing voice-overs and narrating audiobooks. For this, the first book he has written, he decided that he wanted text and illustrations that were humorous. “Most of the books out there on this subject are so dry, it’s a punishment to read them,” he said. The title he chose kind of says it all: “Saying Good-Bye to Your Prostate: A decidedly outside-the-box journal on how to beat prostate cancer and laugh while doing it.”The oversized paperback (8-by-10 inches) is available at Amazon for $12.99. It is illustrated, amusingly, by Lisa Schwartz, an artist who lives in nearby New York state. A portion of all sales benefits the Prostate Cancer Foundation in California.The illustrations look like they belong in a children’s book, which was MacKenzie’s intention. He said he wanted a “collision” of this very adult topic with a childlike presentation. There is a solid information within, however. The medical consultant for the book was Adam Slevin, physician’s assistant to Dr. Ash Tewari of New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center. Most of the book is told in a first-person style, however, beginning with MacKenzie’s visit to the office in Millerton of his physician, Kristie Schmidt and then following him through biopsy, surgery and recovery. He has two goals with this book: One is to amuse and inform. The other is to encourage everyone to visit their doctor early and often.“Please,”he said. “Tell all the males in your life: Start at 35; prostate cancer is becoming more common in younger men.”MacKenzie will sign copies of his books at Johnnycake Books, 12 Academy St., Salisbury, on Saturday, April 6, from 4 to 6 p.m. For information, call 860-435-6677.

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