August 30, 2019
When you cover sports for a living, good timing is often the key to getting a great story. Similarly, when you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, timing can mean a great outcome.
Sports anchor Al Wallace of Fox 4 in Kansas City knew it was time for a physical. As a black male over age 50 with a family history of cancer, Wallace was caught in the middle of several health danger zones.
“I had a lot of red flags that shouldn’t be ignored,” he says.
After a physical at The University of Kansas Hospital in September 2011, Al received an abnormal PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test result. That led to a biopsy, which came back positive. Al then received news no one can prepare for – he had cancer.
“The day before Thanksgiving, I got the call from the hospital. They told me they had good news and bad news. ‘The bad news is you have prostate cancer,’ they said. ‘The good news is we’ve caught it extremely early,’” he says.
Rapport and relief
Al had 2 male colleagues who had gone through similar experiences and a female coworker who had breast cancer. He leaned on their expertise and experiences, including a recommendation to see J. Brantley Thrasher, MD, urologic surgical oncologist, for surgery to remove his prostate. Dr. Thrasher is chief of urology at The University of Kansas Health System.
Between his diagnosis in November 2011 and his surgery in February 2012, Al and his wife got to know Dr. Thrasher and discuss the treatment options. Dr. Thrasher recommended a prostatectomy with robotic laparoscopic surgery using the da Vinci® surgical system. The minimally invasive procedure allows for smaller incisions, less blood loss and faster recovery.
Al says he was immediately impressed by the rapport he felt with Dr. Thrasher.
“You hear about a physician’s bedside manner and how he empathizes with a patient – telling them good news or bad news,” says Al. “I remember our first consultation with Dr. Thrasher. We met with him for about 30 minutes the first week of December.
“Dr. Thrasher did everything to educate, comfort and prepare me for what was going to happen and what the realities were. I felt tremendous relief knowing he would be the physician providing my care.”
PSA screening proponent
Today, more than 2 years after his surgery, Al returns every 6 months for a checkup. He opted for more frequent follow-ups because of his family history and his personal experience. After all, early detection saved his life.
“I have two pieces of advice – early detection and early detection,” Al shares. “Don’t put your life at risk. Go in and get that few minutes of preventive medicine. It makes no sense not to.”
Timing, as they say, is everything.
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To make an appointment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, call 913-588-1227.