Most daughters think of their father as Superman. But in the case of Tom, that cape may fit.
Tom, a former pharmacist, has always been active – he was a competitive racquetball player for more than 30 years – but he’s really leaned into retirement in the small mountain town in Colorado where he lives with his wife. He regularly plays golf and pickleball. An avid outdoorsman, he wrote a hiking and fishing guidebook about his corner of the Rockies. And a few years ago, he rekindled a passion for single-track mountain biking, thanks to a new e-bike.
He's doing all of this at age 72.
“I exercise every day,” Tom says. “It’s when I don’t that I feel lethargic.”
He was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate two years ago, and medication helped him control the frequent urination that resulted. But the medication was becoming less and less effective. In December, a PSA blood test (which can detect the possible presence of prostate cancer), returned concerning results.
“Since this is my field, I knew he likely had prostate cancer,” says his daughter, Lindsey, a physician assistant to Daniel D. Eun, MD, Director of Minimally Invasive Robotic Urologic Oncology and Reconstructive Surgery at Temple University Hospital. “And if that was the case, I knew I wanted him to be treated at Temple, by Dr. Eun.”
A subsequent biopsy confirmed that Tom did, in fact, have prostate cancer. Following a telemedicine consultation with Dr. Eun, Tom was scheduled for a prostatectomy about a month later.
“The more I read about how complicated and fraught the whole arena of the prostate is,” Tom says, “the more concerned I became about incontinence and erectile dysfunction. That’s why I wanted to travel across the country and have Dr. Eun perform my surgery. I believe I couldn’t have put myself in more capable hands.”
Only it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that. Lindsey was home on maternity leave after giving birth to her third child, all of them under the age of five.
“He was a little hesitant to come here, but only because he was concerned about being a burden on me, that being here while recovering would be too much for me,” Lindsey says. “Obviously, I felt differently. The best choice for our family was to be in the care of the people we trust.”
Dr. Eun removed Tom’s prostate on March 21. During the surgery, Dr. Eun found evidence that the cancer had spread to some of Tom’s lymph nodes.
“A prostatectomy is not just about removing the cancer; it’s also a reconstructive procedure,” Dr. Eun says. “And in some cases, those are competing interests. If he didn’t care about maintaining function and we went in there guns blazing, we’d likely remove all the cancer. But he’d also be left incontinent and with erectile dysfunction. If we were too concerned with the sparing aspect, we’re not going to remove all of the tumor. It’s a very fine balance where we try to capture as much of the cancer as we can while preserving as much function as possible.”
In this regard, the surgery was a success, evidenced by Tom’s quick recovery, according to Dr. Eun. A week after the surgery, Tom and his wife were on a flight home to Colorado the next day.