Prostate cancer survivor Barry Leshowitz: My advice to others
August 11, 2015 | by Barry Leshowitz
Barry Leshowitz is a former City of Hope patient and a family advisor for the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center.
It's been almost seven years since I checked into a local hospital in Phoenix for a hip replacement, only to be informed by the surgeon that he had canceled the surgery. An MRI had indicated a “hot spot” of unknown origin in the pelvic area.
Knowing that my prostate specific antigen (PSA) level recently had increased, the surgeon expressed concern that this hot spot might be related to my prostate situation.
The next day I called my urologist to inform him of my concerns and to request that he perform a biopsy immediately. He agreed, and a few days later I received word that I indeed had prostate cancer, which needed to be addressed as soon as arrangements could be made.
Fortunately, the “hot spot” did not manifest in a bone scan: It was a false alarm. I was lucky. Had I not received a false-positive on my radiology report, I might have failed to address my prostate cancer in a timely manner.
After researching the various treatments for prostate cancer, I initially decided on a traditional (open surgery) prostatectomy with a local surgeon. However, having learned about breakthroughs in robotic prostate surgery, I decided to postpone the scheduled surgery. At about this time, in a conversation with a friend in Los Angeles, I learned that City of Hope’s Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology was one of the world’s leading institutions in robotic prostate surgery.
We recognized the inconvenience of travel to City of Hope from Arizona for the surgery and follow-up visits. But after a very supportive visit with the City of Hope surgeon and medical staff, my wife and I opted to have the surgery performed at City of Hope. It was a good decision.
For prospective patients facing a serious medical condition, I offer the following suggestions:
- Assume responsibility for your medical care.
- Research your condition sufficiently to permit serious discussion with your physician.
- Communicate openly with family, friends and others about your illness.
- Ask questions and expect understandable answers.
- In making decisions, try to weigh the facts and avoid emotion.
- Be optimistic with the knowledge you have done all you can to reach a successful outcome.
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.