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Hans Fischer is often told he doesn't look his age. This Swiss-born retired chef feels as vital as a much younger man. Which is why, when he found out at the age of 71 that he had prostate cancer, he weighed his options carefully.
Fischer, who co-owned the Plumsteadville Inn until he retired in 2004, was feeling fine until September 2010. When he discovered blood in his semen his family doctor sent him to an urologist in Doylestown, Pennsylvania who confirmed a slightly elevated PSA and an alarming Gleason count of 7 (a score which helps determine how aggressive the disease will be).
A biopsy revealed that his prostate had a split personality — one side was in perfect shape, the other side had cancer.
"My doctor told me I had 3 choices," recalls Hans. "I could do nothing (watchful waiting), have radiation or surgery. Doing nothing was not an option for me. I knew there were some possible risks with surgery at my age, so I chose to meet with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Hayes."
"From that first meeting, Dr. Hayes put my mind at ease."
As radiation oncologist and director, Fox Chase Cancer Center Buckingham, Shelly Hayes, MD. oversees the cutting edge Calypso® 4D Localization System for treating prostate cancer, a highly localized high-tech treatment option offered at Fox Chase. Hans and his wife, Ann, met with her at the Buckingham center, not too far from their home in Erwinna, PA. "From that first meeting, Dr. Hayes put my mind at ease," he said.
"Dr. Hayes explained the treatment clearly to us," he said. Hans decided to go forward with an 8-week course of targeted radiation, which he started right after Christmas 2010. After his initial appointment at Fox Chase's main campus, where his prostate was implanted with the Calypso GPS "guide" to assure targeted radiation, Hans went to Buckingham 5 days a week for the next 2 months.
"I couldn't wish for a nicer facility and staff," he said. "The people in Buckingham went out of their way to be kind, to explain things, to be supportive and positive."
"Dr. Hayes and her team make things as easy as possible on their patients."
Hans had vowed to approach his cancer and treatment with an upbeat attitude. "And it really helped that everyone I met treated me that way, too," he said. "Everyone there is in the same boat, we all have cancer. Dr. Hayes and her team make things as easy as possible on their patients."
With virtually no side effects from his treatment, Hans admitted he felt as good as new within 3 months of finishing treatment. "People close to me tell me I don't look like I've had cancer. Thanks to Dr. Hayes and her staff, I was able to walk away from this experience free of cancer and with a positive attitude."