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Walter Masinick: Prostate Cancer Care During a Global Pandemic
“I think going to Fox Chase was the best choice I ever made. I tell people if they have cancer or know someone who does and you want to get good results, come to Fox Chase.”
I’m 68 years old and reside in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, about 110 miles northwest of Philadelphia. My biggest support and my greatest joy is my family. My wife and I see our children frequently and spend a lot of our free time babysitting our wonderful grandchildren. My family means everything to me, and dealing with cancer treatment at a time when illness is separating families has been particularly tough for me.
An Obvious Choice
I was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013. Having had a history of kidney stones and needing lithotripsy three times, I saw my urologist on a yearly basis or more often if needed. A fourth kidney stone attack brought me back to the urologist early. Upon examination, he noted a firmness in my prostate, and my wife, a retired registered nurse, requested a biopsy. The biopsy came back positive even though all my prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests were normal at the time.
The doctor suggested I get checked in about a year, but I wanted something done sooner and decided to get a second opinion. My wife had read numerous good reviews about Fox Chase Cancer Center and we had heard from a friend about Dr. Richard Greenberg, a urologic oncologist, so that’s where we started. It was a no-brainer.
We went to see him and he set me up with surgery. I remember asking him what he would do in my situation, and he told me that the cancer could be slow moving, but it’s still cancer, and that he would take care of it right away.
I went in for surgery and had my prostate removed and everything went well. Since the surgery, I have been seeing Dr. Greenberg every year.
In October 2019, my PSA levels started creeping up again. I was then referred to Dr. Eric Horwitz, a radiation oncologist. At our initial meeting, we spoke with him for three hours. My wife came and had about 20 questions. Our oldest daughter also came to take notes so we could listen more attentively. He answered all of them and asked if we had any more. In March of 2020, I began 34 treatments of radiation over seven weeks.
Treatment During COVID-19
At the beginning of my treatments, COVID-19 cases had begun to increase in the U.S. My treatment schedule had not been affected, but when I came in I had my temperature taken and was asked a few questions. We felt comfortable coming into Fox Chase because we saw the precautions they were taking. Workers were masked and staff were actively disinfecting the center.
My wife came with me for the first week and a half, but it wasn’t long before visitors were no longer allowed to come into the hospital. That was tough for me because she had kept a diary about my care and was always there to reference it if needed. We managed to keep her in the loop by having her on the phone during the appointments. Dr. Horwitz was happy to accommodate.
What was most difficult, however, was the separation from our children and grandchildren. Since cancer treatment during COVID-19 makes in-person visits impossible, we’ve started using FaceTime to video chat with our grandkids every day. We even sang happy birthday to our grandson and son over FaceTime. I’m happy to see my grandkids any way I can, and my children have also made the adjustment easier by giving us care packages of food every week.
Throughout all this, it has been incredibly helpful to have doctors and nurses like the ones at Fox Chase. I saw Dr. Horwitz every Tuesday and he always reassured me that treatment was going well. The staff who administer radiation were also incredible. They always made me feel so relaxed, and before I knew it, my treatment was over. From the day I walked into that hospital until now, I couldn’t be happier with the care I received.
I think going to Fox Chase was the best choice I ever made. I tell people if they have cancer or know someone who does and they want to get good results, come to Fox Chase.
My last treatment was in April, so I’m looking forward to the end of this pandemic and spending time with my grandkids again. My wife and I are thankful that we are at least in quarantine together. In the meantime, we have been keeping busy with gardening, home projects, and long video chats with our family.
Learn more about prostate cancer treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center.