Thomas Myers: Multiple Diagnoses and a New Outlook on Life

"All of my doctors made me feel like I was their only patient."

— Thomas Myers

In 2013, my primary physician noticed that my PSA (prostate specific antigen) numbers were much higher than previous blood tests. He referred me to a local urologist who conducted a biopsy. The biopsy revealed prostate cancer.  I was disappointed that this urologist didn’t have an aggressive treatment plan, so I sought a second opinion. My brother-in-law told me about a neighbor who had a prostatectomy by urologic oncologist, Alexander Kutikov. I immediately scheduled an appointment with Dr. Kutikov and was impressed by his kind and friendly demeanor and how he explained the steps he wanted to pursue to determine how advanced my cancer was. He performed another biopsy using the latest technology or the UroNav Fusion System and ordered an MRI scan of my prostate to determine how fast the cancer was spreading. This technology fuses images from the MRI with ultrasound imaging obtained during the biopsy to allow precise targeting of abnormalities. After reviewing the scan and the biopsy, Dr. Kutikov determined I didn’t need surgery yet, but recommended “active surveillance”.

An Unexpected Diagnosis 

While Dr. Kutikov monitored my prostate cancer, I was diagnosed with melanoma. Seven years prior I had a melanoma removed from my back, so I routinely visited my local dermatologist. A melanoma was discovered on my forearm during a visit in the summer of 2015.  This doctor advised me to seek out a specialist. As soon as the words came out of his mouth, I knew I would find a doctor at Fox Chase that would specialize in this type of cancer. My experience with Dr. Kutikov was so positive that I couldn’t imagine myself being treated anywhere else.Tom, walking his daughter Rachel down the aisle Tom, walking his daughter Rachel down the aisle

I called and immediately scheduled an appointment with a surgical oncologist, Dr. Jeffrey Farma. He reviewed my biopsy results and examined my arm, agreeing with my dermatologist that it was melanoma. He advised immediate action and scheduled surgery.

Dr. Farma performed successful surgery on November 2015.  He informed me that indeed it was stage 3 and that the cancer was detected in the lymph nodes of my elbow.  He performed a lymphadenectomy in December and removed all lymph nodes in my elbow. The news at this time in my life was devastating, as my only daughter was getting married in four months and I looked for reassurance that I would be walking Rachel down the aisle.

Dr. Farma recommended that I see an oncologist, Dr. Anthony Olszanski, for further evaluation and treatment options. Although the surgery was successful, he wanted to be proactive and prevent any cancer cells from further spreading. I met with Dr. Olszanski, who was optimistic. He kept me informed and educated throughout the entire process, which put me at ease. He suggested I join an immunotherapy clinical trial, where I have an infusion followed by two CAT scans every three months. The immune-based treatment Yervoy (ipilimumab) was recommended. This drug activates the T-cells in my body to attack the cancer cells. This new science is amazing and I feel so blessed to benefit from it.

While I received treatment for my melanoma, I continued to have my PSA number monitored by Dr. Kutikov for my prostate cancer. In the spring of 2017, my PSA number had increased and after another MRI scan and biopsy, Dr. Kutikov determined the cancer was spreading and becoming more aggressive. At this point, he recommended I have a prostatectomy. He made sure to consult Dr. Olszanski before scheduling my surgery. The level of teamwork and communication amongst the doctors was reassuring. Even though I felt overwhelmed by multiple surgeries, treatments, and diagnoses, I took immense comfort in the prompt actions taken my team of physicians.

Finding Comfort in My Team

After consulting with Dr. Olszanski, Dr. Kutikov scheduled my prostate surgery for June 1, 2018. Using the da Vinci Robotic-Assisted system, Dr. Kutikov was able to perform my prostatectomy laproscopically, meaning it was minimally invasive and left only tiny scars.Enjoying their new home in Cape May, NJEnjoying their new home in Cape May, NJ

Following the surgery, Dr. Kutikov was extremely pleased with the results. The lab results revealed that all of my margins very good. I made sure to follow my aftercare regimen very closely, which includes a prescribed set of exercises and healthy diet. Thanks to Dr. Kutikov’s excellent work and care, I healed very quickly. At my follow up appointment, a few months after the surgery, I was told I wouldn’t need any further treatment, which was a huge relief.  Now, I see him regularly for check ups. As for my melanoma treatment, my last infusion is scheduled for January 2019.

Being diagnosed with multiple cancers has not been easy. Having concurrent treatments, spending time in the hospital, and all of the surgeries has been difficult. But all of my doctors made me feel like I was their only patient. Throughout this long, sometimes scary process, I felt cared for and listened to. It was a comfort to know that all of my doctors talked to each other and that they were all on the same team – my team.

Now that I am almost finished with my treatments, I am able to fully enjoy my life. Waking up every morning, I am grateful for each day, hour, moment.  In April 2016, I had the privilege of watching my daughter get married. Without my doctors at Fox Chase, I might not have been there to walk her down the aisle. With faith, I have a renewed appreciation for life. I retired to West Cape May with my beautiful wife, daughter, and son in law, spending time doing the things I love. My life has changed, I have to be more careful about being in the sun and I’m still getting some treatments and follow-ups, but I gladly pay that price to have more time with the people I love most. 

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