Sitting back in a chair at my office, helping my father during his 2014 tax season, while cutting and pasting pictures from my Fall 2014 fashion catalog photoshoot, I find myself reflecting on a life of wonderful things, along with some really scary medical crises.
Like many others, we’ve had no shortage of close calls in our family. 15 years ago, My grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Just two years later, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. My grandfather was told he had prostate cancer, and most recently he was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma. My father, Joseph Reisman, had a bout with skin cancer a number of years ago, and last year was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
In each case, I decided to read about what specifically these cancers were doing to my family, and how the treatments were meant to cure them. I researched the survivability rate, the treatment options, the effects of those treatments, and what might happen if we had to change course mid-way. I am lucky to have the ability to run my questions about all these topics with my mother, who, besides being a pretty smart mom, just happens to be the first female brain surgeon in New York State.
As complicated as everything might seem, the best way to walk away from this traumatic experience is to catch the disease early, and to have an understanding of how successful cancer treatments tend to go. It begins with personal responsibility, which comes with the knowledge of risks, and involves a relationship with a doctor who has your back, and is an advocate for your health.
I’d like to begin by relating the experience that led me to reach out to the Daily Caller, to bring to the public eye important information that has the potential to save you or your loved ones.
As Sofia Petrillo, the famous “Golden Girls” actress played by Estelle Getty would start her stories, “Picture it, Brooklyn 2013″ — we were all going about our days, looking forward to a busy tax season for my father, and for me my Fall 2013 photo shoot. The stock market was doing well. Business looked great. Everyone was healthy. We were planning to have a nice easy going year, finally.
Mother was urging my father to have his annual PSA blood test which Dad was being notoriously laid back about and figured it could wait till after “government theft day” otherwise known as April 15. Nevertheless, mom won, as usual, and dad went for his test on Feb 1. A few days later, while at my desk, my phone rang. It was mother. I answered, asking if I could return her call because I had 3 folks on hold to schedule their tax appointments. Before I could complete my sentence, she interrupted and told to me go to one of the other offices here and close the door, since we had to have a serious, urgent conversation. I knew something was wrong, and I knew it involved my father. Mom told me that the PSA test came back with results we had hoped never to see.
I immediately went into panic mode, asking hundreds of questions and didn’t get the clear and concise response as I had hoped for. There were too many “we have to see what a doctor says” and “I’m not sure what direction to takes.” I really didn’t like how all this was going and the unsettled feeling of being out of the loop made it much worse. I’m telling you all this because I am 100 percent sure this is exactly how you would feel if you got the call. It’s human nature; inevitably we all turn to worst case scenarios and begin to picture life without a loved one in it.
We went back to the lab that performed the blood test and spoke with the doctor there who proceeded to tell us of the different treatments but was strongly pushing for radiation. I went right to my blackberry and started googling radiation and prostate cancer. The results were really mixed, and I was feeling that same lightheaded feeling start to sink in. We all had a lot to think about, and left the office without the confidence we were hoping to have. Many back and forth options were presented over the next few days, and even more conversations with other people about what their doctors were like. Needless to say, we still did not have any direction to take, and no solution was found. Were we going to do this during tax season? What if there was a complication?
The next day was a really bad day for all of us. Besides the fact my father had cancer, we were wrestling with the option of radiation, being presented to us by the original doctor. It freaked me out that it not only failed to guarantee a cure (and I am aware that there is never a 100 percent guarantee) but it would remove from the list any surgical procedure option because the tissues would be destroyed by the radiation. To be clear, if we proceeded with radiation and it failed to achieve its objective, a surgical option was now no longer an option and we would be in a position of complete risk, and our only alternative was hope.