Issue #194  9/25/2012
Why The Newsletter Has Been Late: a Summer Full of Medical Issues

By Alex Novak

For those of you who were wondering why there were no recent newsletters, I encountered more than a few health issues this summer. I am fine now.

I had to go to the emergency room in Paris on my next to last day there because of an enlarged prostate. The medical team there put a catheter in me to get back, something that I had to deal with for about seven weeks or so, including a bit after the surgery that came later in the summer.

I had to have major prostate and hernia surgery. My enlarged prostate was just too big for normal surgical procedures, so I went the robotics route (and, no, they didn't rebuild me as a robot). The doctor who I used is simply the top robotics surgeon for urology in the world: Dr. Daniel Eun at Temple University Medical. I can highly recommend him and his team. The good news is that there were no signs of cancer at all, and my PSAs dropped from 8.4 to 1.3.

At my annual skin check-up, my dermatologist Toby Shaw insisted we test the pigmented area on my cheek even though I had it tested before (although 25 years before). I am very glad she insisted. The test showed that I had in situ Melanoma on my right cheek. The subsequent Mohs skin surgery required a couple of skin grafts from my upper shoulder blade. Mohs surgery makes sure you get out all the skin cancer. It is a system of incremental surgery where the cancer cells in the removed skin are checked while actually doing the surgery.

My surgeon indicated that they got out 100% of the cancer, which was fortunately at its earliest stage. My doctor here was Dr. Chris Miller at the University of Pennsylvania hospital. Again, I can highly recommend him and his team.

Take a lesson from my experience: go for annual or even bi-annual check-ups with your dermatologist and (for men) urologist or (for women) gynecologist. Getting things early does pay off.

On top of all this, I broke my front tooth, fell down a couple of stairs and lightly sprained my ankle, and then came back home and bashed the small toe on my right foot. I felt like that little guy with the thunder cloud over his head from the Little Abner comic strip. I am almost back to normal (whatever that is) and hope my Karma is now clear for the rest of my life.

Hope things have gone better this summer for you. :-)