My pelvis died in May of 1985, after a long illness. There was no viewing since generally people who provide a viewing of their penises—whether the penis is dead or alive—are psychotic. There was no obituary since Helen and I kept the death quiet and secret—privacy for my privates. There was no funeral and burial since, well, you get the picture: How do you bury a part and not the whole?
Staring in the face of prostate cancer at age thirty-five, with metastatic disease and proposed surgical castration at age forty, Paul Steinberg was forced to take two journeys at the same time. The first was to transition from doctor to a patient. The second was more spiritual, as he searched for a higher meaning in his life while undergoing this turmoil.
Part medical biography and part philosophical musing, A Salamander’s Tale looks at the evolution of the regenerative capabilities of cold-blooded vertebrates like the salamander and what we as humans have lost and gained in our warm-bloodedness. How do we as human beings regenerate? How do we redeem ourselves when our capacity for regeneration is limited? How did the prostate evolve, and how does prostate cancer develop?
With wit and humor, Steinberg tackles lust, sex, and ultimately time, death, and the gods. Having lived longer than virtually anyone else with metastatic prostate cancer, he uses his knowledge as a doctor and experience as a patient to provide a story of endurance and perseverance, weaving a tale of grace, regeneration, and redemption — just not the kind of regeneration and redemption he or anyone else would expect.