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Behind the Headlines-24

Us TOO FLORENCE - BEHIND THE HEADLINES-24
BY BOB HORNEY - PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR - Us TOO CHAPTER LEADER
(Published May 11, 2016, The Siuslaw News)

Sometimes material for Behind the Headlines just leaps out, begging to be used. Such a case in point is the May 2, 2016 Austin Meek story in the Register-Guard titled, "One last run to the finish line among friends." What a touching story and exciting confirmation of what Us TOO Florence participants have known and proclaimed for years about urologist Dr. Bryan Mehlhaff...that he works together "with" men to preserve the highest quality of life while fighting prostate cancer.
Richard Leutzinger, the recipient of Dr. Mehlhaff's extraordinary efforts to fulfill his goal of running his 100th marathon before dying of prostate cancer, says it all when he states: "How many people can ever say they had a doctor like that? That's a once-in-a-lifetime doctor. I just can't say how much I appreciate that. That's a really soulful human being."
For those who missed this must-read story, it can be found at the following link: http://registerguard.com/rg/sports/34329039-81/one-last-run-to-the-finish-line-among-friends.html.csp#.VygnQezGjf8.email.
Anyone who has followed our many Personal Prostate Cancer Journeys or my Behind the Headlines understands why we have total confidence in the care we receive from Dr. Mehlhaff and the other urologists at Oregon Urology Institute. Dr. Mehlhaff is the prostate cancer expert on that staff and has been attending our Us TOO Florence meetings since 2004. During those years, we have received well over 100 hours of his expert advice. Much of that is "personal advice" with Dr. Mehlhaff answering personal questions much as in an examining room. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Still, we realize some readers may view our supportive comments with a bit of skepticism. Hopefully, the above story will be seen as an affirmation of our remarks.
As prostate cancer patients, we know that Dr. Mehlhaff works "with" us when it comes to decisions regarding treatment or non-treatment. Much of this support is in providing information upon which to base a decision. He works "with" us in deciding what kind of treatment to have if we choose to go the treatment route. Just as in the above story, he will make his preference known, but it is never "his way" or the "highway." He understands totally that it is our body and we are responsible for deciding how to treat it (or not). He is our constant source of information and guidance, always with us.
Occasionally, at our Us TOO Florence meetings, we will observe or hear about a patient who, for personal reasons, may prefer an alternative to Dr. Mehlhaff's recommendation. Those, like Richard's, will usually be "quality of life" issues which Dr. Mehlhaff totally understands. His cooperation with patients in those times in no way lessens the importance of his recommendations. Those are always given careful consideration even though the patient may prefer to go a different direction.
Unfortunately, stories such as Dr. Mehlhaff and Richard Leutzinger don't often get told in such a prominent way. It seems it is always the negative outcomes that get the headlines, turning men away from the very physicians (urologists, in this case) who would work with them in a supportive and collaborative role to protect their health. These negative outcomes are often hyped to the point of convincing the public that they are the rule, not the exception.
A prime example of that is the 2012 finding by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and supported by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) that with PSA screening, the harms outweigh the benefit. That pronouncement resulted in men turning away from prostate cancer screening which is down over 30 percent. As a result, fewer men are currently being diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer while more men are now being diagnosed with more advanced disease which is more difficult to treat.
My hope is that the Austin Meek story of Dr. Mehlhaff and Richard Leutzinger will go a long way toward reestablishing the public trust that urologists deserve. If that confidence in urological care will lead to a resurgence of prostate cancer screening, many men will be saved from terminal prostate cancer care.



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