When it comes to maintaining my health, I'm diligent about getting my annual physical exam, and this truly saved my life. In March 2009, I went for my annual physical exam which includes a test for PSA [prostate-specific antigen, a marker for prostate cancer]. My PSA results for the previous year were high normal, and in this recent examination my numbers were up again—so my primary-care doctor referred me to a urologist, Dr.Jayesh Dhabalia, to get it checked out.
Dr.Dhabalia conducted additional examinations and as a result recommended a prostate biopsy to rule out cancer. The procedure required minimal prep and was virtually painless. The urologist took 12 core samples, and the results showed that only one core was categorized cancerous with a low Gleason score of 6 (3+3). The doctor explained that although cancer was detected it was not aggressive and that, given my age of 54 and physical well-being, I had time to evaluate my various options, which were surgery (traditional and robotic), seed implants, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, and watchful waiting.
Throughout our conversation I kept thinking, I have cancer—how am I going to beat this? I MUST BEAT THIS! I wanted the cancer physically removed. "Talk to me about the surgery," I said. My urologist described how open and robotic prostate surgery worked, as well as the potential side effects. He then recommended Dr. Michael Stifelman as a very experienced robotic surgeon, which I later found out through my research is a determining factor when selecting a surgeon. "He's a great surgeon, is director of robotic surgery at NYU and has a wonderful personality," the doctor said. "I know you'll like him both as a surgeon and an individual."
Over the next several days I did a lot of research investigating the alternatives and concluded I wanted the robotic prostatectomy. This addressed my primary concern of eradicating the cancer, provided the highest odds of minimizing incontinence and erectile dysfunction, and would allow a quick recovery and prompt return to my normal activities. As part of my research I came across an interesting clip of Dr. Stifelman's appearance on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. What I saw impressed me: I had to meet this guy, I thought.