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.
A day or so later, as I was sitting at my desk, I just had to steer my attention for a few minutes from the crisis. As usual, I flipped on Fox News, my favorite pastime. It was at that moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks that there was indeed a solution to the problem we all faced and I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why I had not thought about this before. Approximately one year earlier from this dreadful time, I was delivering a dress to one of the Fox News anchorwomen and had the pleasure of meeting their in-house medical “A Team” doctors, Dr. David Samadi, and Dr. Mark Siegel, whom I respect enormously. Now, sitting in my seat, I realized I had access to someone considered to be the pioneer in prostate cancer surgery!
I suddenly had all the hope in the world! I called my mother back and told her I was going to call Dr. Samadi, and every Fox News anchor I knew to get us an appointment even if he was backed up for a year. I was so determined at that moment and truly saw how all this was going to be resolved.
I remembered I had added Dr. Samadi on Facebook shortly after meeting him so I went to his page, and saw he was signed on to the chat program and told him who I was, and apologized for reaching out to him on his private page and asked if he would prefer I wait to speak with him during business hours. He would have none of that “don’t bother me on my private time” manner, and was immediately helpful. He remembered meeting me and asked for my phone number and that he would call me later on in the day.
That evening, around 9pm, the house phone rang. It was Dr. Samadi asking to speak with Dr. Katz, my mother. I thanked him for calling us even when he was not working at that hour, and recognized the graciousness behind the call. I went to get my mother, ran actually, and told her she had a call from Dr. Samadi and she was pretty surprised that he had taken the time to call after hours since it isn’t usually like this in the medical profession, an early indicator that this doctor was all about the personal relationship.
They spoke for about 45 minutes and although he was completely booked, he asked my mother to call his office in the morning and tell his personal secretary to put my father down for appointment on the schedule. We did just that, and had an appointment two days later. We had our consultation with Dr. Samadi that day, on time and on schedule. Dr. Samadi extended further courtesy by scheduling his surgery for a few days later, even though his schedule was booked for months.
The day of the surgery, we arrived early in the morning for and checked in. We left my father in the hands of Dr. Samadi as they walked into the operating room together, while my mother and I walked to the waiting area and sat there, digesting what was going on, how fast everything was happening, glancing at the clock every 45 seconds to see if the two hours had passed.
Suddenly I saw the doctor walking towards us, looking serious at first, but then he smiled and we all felt like passing out. Dad was fine and everything went perfectly without any complications. To lighten the mood further, Dr. Samadi mentioned he liked Fox and Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson’s dress I had designed for her. He had done his research on me, like I had done on him. I was pretty honored he would take the time to do that, and joked I would like to be his wife’s personal designer to show my gratitude to him. We were told Dad would go home in one day, and back to work two days after that if he was up to it. We went back to sitting down, and I asked what would seem like a pretty simple, stupid question. “That’s it? This crisis is done?” and mom thought about it for a minute and simply replied “Yes, its all done!”
I really was at a loss for words, and felt like this doctor had performed a miracle and couldn’t thank him enough. It got me thinking, what made this entire experience so easy, and successful? There should not be a single case where a diagnosis of prostate cancer should go without the experience we all had, ending in one amazing shout “We’re cured!”
Who is Dr. David Samadi? Sure he’s one heck of a doctor, but what is so special about him? Well, he’s on Fox News a lot with terrific advice, but there are thousands of great doctors. Samadi was born in Iran and, with his younger brother, fled to Europe following the revolution. As for his education, few can touch upon the level of training he has completed. Specifically, Dr. Samadi completed his postgraduate training in general surgery at Montefiore Medical Center and in urology at Albert Einstein School of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. He completed an oncology fellowship in urology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a robotic radical prostatectomy fellowship at Henri Mondor Hospital Creteil in France under the mentorship of Professor Claud Abbou. Samadi is fellowship trained in laparoscopy and robotic prostatectomy surgery and is an internationally recognized expert in both fields. Following that, he went on to become board-certified urologist and an oncologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of urologic diseases, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and prostate cancer. If that wasn’t enough, he also specializes in many advanced minimally invasive treatments for prostate cancer, including laparoscopic radical prostatectomy and laparoscopic robotic radical prostatectomy.
He’s now the Chairman of the Department of Urology and Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Besides all this training and education, and chairmanship, what makes this doctor so incredible special is that he developed his own SMART (Samadi Modified Advanced Robotic Technique) surgery for the robotic removal of cancerous prostates. Dr. Samadi’s unique approach is a personalized one. His is not a one-size-fits-all treatment doctor and doesn’t look at his patients as a prostate number. He tailors each program for the individual and personally takes care of them from day one. We experienced this and more when my father was under his immediate care. Every step of the way, he educates and supports his patients. He consistently follows up with each and every one of them to check on their progress.
His philosophy is not letting the patient decide on treatment alone; he guides them every step of the way. This continues into the day of surgery. There is never a moment where the patient feels lost in his own thoughts to worry about the outcome.
After all this, you may be asking yourself, what benefits or statistical reasons are there in selecting Dr. Samadi to care for you or your loved one, versus other doctors just as dedicated to their patient or as surgically qualified.
Two words; proven experience. Nearly 6,000 robotic surgeries have been performed by Dr. Samadi. Not to mention his procedure allows for shorter hospital stays (like my father’s day and a half “vacation”), the elimination of invasive large scar-creating cuts; instead, tiny keyhole incisions are used. As for pain, there is little to no pain following the procedure and quick healing thanks to the low risk of bleeding and infection. Post surgery, the benefits continue with only a minimal risk of becoming impotent or incontent. Dr, Samadi has a 97 percent prostate cancer cure rate which I don’t have to tell you is outstanding. This kind of medicine is the traditional medicine where the doctor literally has you under his care from A through Z – never delegating responsibility. In an era of Obamacare where cutbacks can and must be expected in order to pay for everyone who does not have insurance, it is really refreshing, as the son of a doctor who worked with the same approach, to see this boutique style care for everyone who walks in needing a life saving procedure.