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Behind the Headlines-17

Us TOO FLORENCE - BEHIND THE HEADLINES - 17
BY BOB HORNEY - PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR - Us TOO CHAPTER LEADER
(Published March 11, 2015, The Siuslaw News)

If you have followed the prostate cancer journeys told by the men taking them, you know that once these men sit down with a urologist at Oregon Urology Institute, there is no limit to the amount of time they get. Over and over we read that the urologist spent an hour or two explaining the diagnosis and then going over the treatment or non-treatments options. And, unless the patient has already made up his mind to have surgery, when the urologist is finished with his/her discussion, it is off to see Dr. Forsythe, the OUI Radiation Oncologist, with the same time commitment.
These are complex issues that deserve and require an abundance of time. There are no shortcuts to these discussions and they will continue over time and as long as it takes until the patient has decided what he wants to do. Of course, "his" decision is usually a shared decision because spouses/significant others/loved ones are often very much involved in this process.
We read about urologists over-diagnosing and over-treating men and there are those who contend it is for the sake of dollars. Well, not at OUI! The OUI Urologists and Radiation Oncologist are not "telling" men what they need to do. Sure, each expresses the pros and cons of their particular specialty, whether it is open surgery, robotic surgery or external beam radiation therapy (IGRT), but the final decision is not made by the medical personnel, it is made by the patient.
There is a very good common sense reason for this. We, the patient, must assume responsibility for what happens to our body. There are treatment choices to be made and in many cases, all of them could provide a cure. However, each will come with the possibility of side effects and it is up to each man to determine the side effects he is willing to risk.
Nothing will happen until the patient names his treatment choice. The urologists and radiation oncologist wisely provide all the information they can and then wait for the patient to mull it over and make his choice. That's exactly the way it is and exactly the way it needs to be. We patients make the final decision and are prepared to live with it, having made our own choice.
That we get to spend this amount of time with our urologists upon receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis is great, but one doesn't have to wait for that diagnosis to have an opportunity to spend time with these doctors. All one needs do is attend our Us TOO Florence meetings. Anyone who had been attending our evening meetings since 2004, when Dr. Bryan Mehlhaff began sharing his evenings with us, would have over 100 hours of expert urologist time. Or, just attending our lunch meetings with Dr. Doug Hoff would give that person around 30 hours of expert urologist time. Those hours are at no cost - free for attending.
I'm talking about bringing your own questions, being an active participant in the discussions and leaving with answers. I like what Dr. Sheldon Marks says in the Preface to his book, Prostate & Cancer: A Family Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Survival. He says: "I believe the fear of the unknown is the most overwhelming and traumatic result of all the confusion about this disease. Unfortunately, short of spending an hour or two in personal consultation with a urologist, there is really no complete and accurate source of information available."
Us TOO Florence provides the monthly resource of two urologists for anyone who wants complete and accurate information about prostate cancer. That is 2 to 2 1/2 hours nearly every month. That would remove much of the fear of the unknown that Dr. Marks mentioned above.
Monthly meetings: second Tuesday at the Presbyterian Church of the Siuslaw from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. and the third Tuesday at the Kozy Kitchen from 12 noon to 1:00.

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