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Prostate Cancer Survivor Gets an Encore

October 02, 2019

Michael Spicer embodies the theatrical credo that the show must go on.

After having surgery for prostate cancer at The University of Kansas Hospital, he had no plans to appear on stage. He was focused on walking and recuperating as his urologic oncology surgeon Jeffrey Holzbeierlein, MD, had instructed.

But his wife was directing La Cage aux Folles at the Salina Community Theater, where Michael is executive director, and she still needed to cast a major part.

“She asked what I thought about doing the role. I said, ‘I just had surgery.’ She said, ‘It’s still a ways off.’ So 2 weeks later, when I had worked up to walking a couple of miles a day, I said I’d do it.”

Michael played a drag performer in the play, which many know as the Nathan Lane role in the American film version of The Birdcage. And he played it to the hilt – complete with shaved legs and waxed eyebrows and chest.

“In the words of a Chorus Line song,” he says with a grin, “‘it’s what I did for love.’”

Michael’s approach to his prostate cancer was equally single-minded. “In a situation like this, you try to take away the best of what the experience is going to be. You wish you didn’t have cancer, but since you do, you deal with it as a minor inconvenience, then move on with your life.”

I’m still here – healthy, active and doing my job. I can look forward to seeing my kids graduate from high school and college and get married. –Michael Spicer

Prostate cancer survivor

Even more impressive, this was Michael’s second round of cancer surgery. Five years earlier, head and neck surgeon Terance Tsue, MD, at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, treated him for an ameloblastoma (a benign tumor) in his right maxillary sinus.

After a specialist in another state told him he would have to lose his right eye, Michael sought the opinion of Dr. Tsue, who was able to remove the tumor with a much less radical approach.

When Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer, recommendations from a friend in Salina and from Dr. Tsue led him to Dr. Holzbeierlein.

“I felt very comfortable with the way Dr. Holzbeierlein described the options to me. Because my ameloblastoma had been treated once before when I lived in California and recurred, I knew I wanted the option that would most completely clear the cancer. Plus, he was able to save both nerves, which was a key issue.”

Michael also wanted the least invasive option so he could recover as quickly as possible. Now, one year out from surgery, the father of 2 has exceeded normal recovery standards.

“I’m still here – healthy, active and doing my job. I can look forward to seeing my kids graduate from high school and college and get married.”

And as a public figure in the Salina area – the Community Theater is the second largest in the state – Michael says his experience with prostate cancer has had positive results.

“It’s amazing how many women who volunteer at the theater have insisted their husbands get tested. If you look for the silver lining in life, this will do.”

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