Todd Greco: Swift Recovery After Prostate Cancer

“I credit my full recovery to early detection and the outstanding treatment I got at Fox Chase. They really know what a cancer patient is going through.”
‐Todd Greco

I’ve always been fastidious about getting my annual physical and bloodwork. Even in 2020, when COVID kept us all at home, I did a telemedicine visit. Of course, I couldn’t get bloodwork, but since I felt perfectly healthy, I just waited until my annual 2021 exam.

I was shocked when my prostate-specific antigen levels, also known as PSA, came back elevated; they’d jumped from less than 2 ng/mL to almost 9. I felt fine! I couldn’t imagine I had developed prostate cancer.

My PCP sent me to a local urologist, who arranged for some scans and a biopsy. I still had no symptoms, but 16 of the 17 biopsy samples came back positive for cancer. This is when I decided to pursue a second opinion.

I wanted to ensure that if I needed treatment, it would happen at a cancer center, because I wanted to be treated by specialists who focused on cancer. I wanted to go somewhere they had access to newer machines, modern medicines, and clinical trials. That’s how I wound up at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

In Good Hands

At the time of my diagnosis, I was still working in the pharmaceutical industry, where I’d spent nearly 30 years. As a result, I had made friends who knew a thing or two about cancer. Two were highly skilled physicians, and they both insisted I needed to go to Fox Chase, specifically to see Dr. Alexander Kutikov, a urologic oncologist. They even wrote letters to help me get on his schedule more quickly.

Dr. Kutikov was as skillful as his reputation indicated. He sat down with me and my spouse, Detrick, and explained that 55 was a young age for a diagnosis of prostate cancer, which meant that my cancer was a more aggressive type. It needed to be removed immediately.

Dr. Kutikov told us he would use a minimally invasive technique called robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy, a type of minimally invasive surgery, to remove my prostate. He was calm and confident as he shared all of this with us, and his ability to be so matter-of-fact helped me feel reassured. By the end of the appointment, I had no hesitation about going forward with his treatment plan.

Smooth Surgery

My surgery took place just a few weeks later, in October 2021. When he came to my recovery room after the surgery, he had good news: My prostate was out, the cancer was out, and everything else looked fine.

The two nurses who assisted me immediately after my surgery were so incredible I wrote their supervisor a letter of thanks. Within just a few hours of waking up from anesthesia, those nurses had me up and walking around. They also taught me and Detrick how to change the catheter I’d need to use for the next 10 days.

That experience—suddenly looking at my spouse as my caregiver—was the most emotional I felt throughout the whole ordeal. But the nurses were patient and reassuring, and they knew exactly what to say to help put us more at ease.

A Full Recovery 

Todd Greco and Detrick

My recovery at home was smooth, with one exception. To help the tissue in the penis recover function, doctors will prescribe medicine to keep blood flowing down there and help expedite recovery. I was prescribed Cialis, also known as tadalafil, and unfortunately turned out to be one of the extremely small minority of men who are allergic to the medication.

I had such excruciating back pain that Detrick tried taking me to the local emergency room; however, it was so backed up with COVID patients, I wound up in the triage unit at Fox Chase. Luckily, my stay was short-lived and I recovered quickly. The next day I was up and walking my dog!

Within two weeks, I got rid of the catheter, eliminated the pads I’d been using in case of incontinence, and could even get an erection. Now I’m back to doing everything I love: boating, gardening, playing pickleball, practicing yoga, and of course, spending time with Detrick.

Raising Awareness

I know not everyone who’s treated for prostate cancer has such a positive result. I credit my full recovery to early detection and the outstanding treatment I got at Fox Chase. I cannot say enough good things about the people there. They really know what a cancer patient is going through. They know what you’re thinking, what your fears are, and how to ask questions without making you feel embarrassed.

I’m sharing my story because I’m a big believer in talking about prostate cancer. We need to normalize this so men make sure they get tested. This cancer can be genetic, but even if it’s not in many cases, it still means that none of us did anything wrong and there’s no reason to be ashamed.

The earlier and more often you get tested, the better your chances. And if you do wind up with a cancer diagnosis, Fox Chase is the place to go.

Learn more about prostate cancer and robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy at Fox Chase Cancer Center.