With a Cancer Diagnosis, You Turn to Those You Trust
Garry Westcott is a busy man. Now that he’s retired, he doesn’t work as much as he used to, but he still has his private investigator license, and he plays a federal marshal on the web western series, Thurston.
"I didn’t want my prostate cancer treatment to get me written out of the script,” Garry recalls thinking five years ago when he learned he had prostate cancer. Most important, Garry wanted an experienced prostate cancer specialist to guide his care. He selected Keith Kowalczyk, MD, a board-certified urologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, who specializes in treating kidney, testicular, bladder and prostate cancers, and is trained in robotic-assisted surgery.
“Dr. Kowalczyk put me at ease right away when we first met to discuss having a biopsy,” says Garry. “I was apprehensive because I had read about every painful complication possible on the Internet. Dr. Kowalczyk was thorough and knowledgeable and explained everything. And, he has a good sense of humor, and that helped. I was amazed to find that for me the biopsy was not a big deal.”
“Garry’s biopsy revealed cancer confined to the prostate,” says Dr. Kowalczyk. “Given Garry’s age of 63 at the time, and his biopsy report, I recommended that he consider having his prostate removed either with conventional surgery or with robotic surgery.”
According to Dr. Kowalczyk, every prostate cancer case is unique. MedStar Georgetown offers the most advanced therapies available in the region, including minimally invasive techniques, to achieve the best outcomes with the fewest side effects. He encourages his patients to explore all their treatment options.
“A cancer diagnosis is frightening. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the most treatable,” says urologist John H. Lynch, MD, a recognized authority on prostate cancer, and chair of MedStar Georgetown’s Department of Urology. “We want all our patients to be comfortable with their treatment plan.”
Garry consulted with prostate cancer specialists at MedStar Georgetown. His treatment options included chemotherapy, radiation, radiation implants and surgery. “I was very fortunate to have the expertise at MedStar Georgetown,” Garry says. “I was so impressed with the specialists I met. I never felt rushed, and they didn’t automatically recommend their specialty as the best treatment approach. When I asked about robotic surgery, they agreed it was a good fit for my diagnosis. They gave me confidence to make my treatment decision.”
Garry never did bother to share his cancer diagnosis or treatment with his producers at the time. “Thanks to Dr. Kowalczyk, my biopsy, surgery and recovery occurred during a two-week filming interval.” By week 3, Garry literally was back in the saddle again.
Today, Garry is cancer-free. His wife, Judy, recently retired after a 40-year nursing career at MedStar Georgetown.
The da Vinci® system is a sophisticated robotic platform designed to expand the surgeon’s capabilities. Benefits include:
- Decreased blood loss and need for transfusion
- Less infection risk
- More precise nerve sparing for potency
- Earlier return of urinary continence
- Reduced pain
- Fewer complications
- Less scarring
- Shorter hospitalization
- Faster return to normal activities