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On Your Mark, Get Set, Go Become a Cancer Survivor

Elaine shares her story of how faith in herself, Dr. Fagelson and God helped her reach the finish line – now her story serves as motivation for others.

Cancer survivor | Elaine running a 5k race | Urology Associates
Elaine fulfilled a lifelong dream of participating in 5K races.

The past few years have been full of refinement, change and emotional ups and downs.

After the passing of my father, my mother and I became roommates so that I could take care of her physical and medical needs. This was certainly an adjustment, but I have strived to use it as an expression of love and servitude.

Then in August of 2015, I suffered an injury that ruptured a disk in my back and left me in severe pain. I was unable to walk or even stand up for several months. I went through extensive chiropractic care and wellness therapy that not only helped the healing process, but also opened my eyes to the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

From there on out, I have made a point to improve my health and wellness. Through it all I got a job promotion, and on top of that I have dropped 77 pounds – and counting! This allowed me to fulfill a long-time dream of participating in 5K races.

Unfortunately, among all of these peaks and valleys, I also heard the words that no one ever wants to hear: “You have cancer.”

From finish line to emergency room

After recovering from my back injury and making a point to improve my health, I was feeling great. I had even started participating in many other races.

When I got home from one of my races, I started to feel sick. I thought maybe I had the flu, but did not think much of it until I went to the restroom and noticed blood in my urine. Even though I did not have any other pain or concerning symptoms, I went to the emergency room right away.

In the ER I underwent a variety of scans and testing that revealed a mass on my right kidney. From there I was referred to a urologist through UCHealth who performed more invasive testing to determine that the mass was kidney cancer.

This is news you just hate to hear in any sentence. It causes the body to be numb. It causes the mind to race. In that brief instant you go through a whirlwind of thoughts that range from What am I going to do? to How do I tell my family? to Is this a death sentence?

Then, just as quickly, you must gather yourself and realize that the doctor is still talking to you. After you hang up the phone you sit in silence, try to collect your thoughts and figure out what the next step will be.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that one of my first thoughts was I’m going to see my father sooner than I thought. But I knew I had to pull myself together. I had to put one foot in front of the other and lean on my loving God. I had to muster the strength to inform those closest to me of the news and make sure to protect those who needed to be protected (my mom). Then, I did the best I could to move forward with my life.

The run for my life

The first doctor I saw encouraged a very aggressive treatment plan that would include eight weeks of chemotherapy and a surgery that would require cutting my back open to remove my kidney. In my heart, I just knew this was not the right plan.

I decided to do some research on my own and trusted that God would help me find a better treatment option for my diagnosis. During my search, I came across a book called The Cancer Killers that explains nutrition, fitness and detoxification advice essential to confronting cancer. I began adjusting my eating habits and lifestyle choices accordingly.

Around that time a friend from my church revealed that she had also battled kidney cancer and shared that she received her treatment at Urology Associates. Not long after, I learned that a co-worker had received care from Urology Associates as well. They both had wonderful things to say about the facility and doctors, so I took a leap of faith and contacted the clinic.

After just one appointment with Dr. James Fagelson I knew that I had made the right choice to forego the treatment plan suggested by my first doctor. Dr. Fagelson was optimistic from the very beginning and took my concerns into consideration. He was also confident that he could use a minimally invasive surgery to remove my kidney, which meant that he would not have to cut into my back.

On August 23, 2016, I underwent the surgery, which was successful. I was up and walking the next day and follow-up tests revealed that the cancer had remained contained to just my kidney. Dr. Fagelson believes that the work I put into getting healthy probably made a difference in the results of my treatment.

As I learned from The Cancer Killers, good health helps healing. Dr. Fagelson also told me that if I had not lost weight after my back injury, the tumor may still be hiding and undetected.

As a preventive caution, Dr. Fagelson had me undergo a bladder scope about three months after my surgery to make sure that additional tumors had not developed. Unfortunately the scope results showed three malignant tumors on my bladder. On January 5 I had a surgery to remove all of those. I am so thankful that Dr. Fagelson recommended this scope, because who knows how long those tumors could have gone undetected if he had not.

Today I am blessed with good health. Recent CT scans have come back clean, indicating that there are no other cancerous tumors in my body.

Racing on as a cancer survivor inspiration 

Cancer survivor | photo of Elaine Brimage after weight loss and cancer free | Urology Associates
Elaine has taken control of her health and wellness by continuing to lose weight and following her dreams.

I thank God every day for Dr. Fagelson and the care that I received at Urology Associates. Every step of the way the doctors and staff have been so sensitive and understanding to my fears and needs. I have truly never felt so cared for in my life, which is comforting when facing something as challenging as cancer.

I strive to use my journey as a tool of inspiration and hope for others. Through this process, I have found a passion for motivating others. I have had the honor of sharing my story at a Cancer Killers workshop and I also write monthly blogs dedicated to uplifting others. It is hard to put the journey of life into words, but I hope I can help others believe in the power that they have to overcome difficulties.

The past few years have been filled with ups and downs, but through it all I have found personal passions and improved my health and wellness. In fact, on April 22, 2017, I will be participating in Pat’s Run, a 5K race in Phoenix, Arizona.

This race just so happens to be on the one-year anniversary of my kidney cancer diagnosis.

I would like to leave you with a poem that I wrote while I was dealing with the challenges of the past few years.

This is my heart today…

To Be Free From Pain

Elaine Brimage II

The heart deals with many emotions
We sometimes don’t know how to channel
And when they all come falling down around us
Fears and tears can also be hard to handle. 

It’s not always easy to find the right words
When someone who cares asks if they can help
But what a comfort to know people care for you
And it makes your heart want to truly melt. 

With the complications and pains we’re dealt
It gets hard not to want to give in
Then we’re reminded of the wonders of His love
And muster up the faith to want to win.

Though the battles may prove to be challenging
Something in us says let’s fight the fight
And when the enemy is attacking against you
You know in your spirit you are doing right.

So, through all the pains and tears
We must remember to look toward the light
Cause in that we find the sun and rainbow
And remember things again will soon be bright.

Simple Cancer Screening Saved Gary’s Life

Controversy over getting a PSA test caused him to pause screening for two years, but a change of heart in year three found prostate cancer.

Cancer screening | Urology Associates CO and the title attribute Cancer screening | Urology Associates CO | doc and patient talkingGary, from Colorado, had a routine going with his primary care physician: Every year they evaluated his prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels that can indicate possible prostate cancer. Every year the cancer screening showed that levels went up a bit.

“When all this came out about PSA not being effective and all that, my primary care physician (PCP) and I had a conversation about that two years in a row,” says Gary, who is 64 years old. “I had a PSA test every year up until then and we looked at the new evidence and said, Well let’s not do it. So for two years I didn’t have the PSA.”

The controversy about PSA cancer screening refers to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issuing a recommendation in 2008 against PSA screening, despite objections from the urologic community. As a result, primary care providers, like Gary’s, have since offered fewer prostate cancer screening tests.

Urologists, including all of the physicians at Urology Associates, have been raising the alarm to continue PSA testing. And many primary care physicians, like Gary’s, also rethought it all.

“In the third year, my PCP had done enough research on his own, and he said, Let’s put the PSA back in. My PSA levels were at the threshold when things start to go on,” Gary recalls. “We could look back over the years and see a linear rise with my PSA. So he referred me to Urology Associates, and I went to see Dr. Edward Eigner.”

What followed was a digital rectal exam and an ultrasound-guided biopsy of Gary’s prostate, with Dr. Eigner removing 12 samples for laboratory examination. Four showed prostate cancer of intermediate aggressiveness. If you’re going to have prostate cancer, that’s pretty good news because it means they caught it early – thanks to the wise decision to resume PSA testing.

Good choice on prostate cancer screening & treatment

Next came the big decision of how to treat it, whether to treat it. Dr. Eigner told Gary that if he were 10 years older, they might do nothing.

“My wife and I had a pretty extensive discussion with Dr. Eigner at his office at Swedish Medical Center about all the options. He recommended that I look into two options, surgery or radiation therapy using the CyberKnife,” says Gary. “That discussion with Dr. Eigner was a big help.”

“I learned even more online and particularly via Urology Associates’ patient portal. I had several conversations with Dr. Eigner, and he was able to answer questions I had from my reading,” Gary says. “All of it worked quite well: I knew where I was going, what my options were, what the side effects were. I had really comprehensive information from the start.”

Gary decided to undergo CyberKnife treatment at Anova Cancer Care, which has a clinical partnership with Urology Associates.

“I went through CyberKnife and it was easy. It requires just five treatments instead of 40 with standard radiation,” says Gary. “That’s the route I chose.”

He finished the treatments in July 2015. Gary had a minor bladder issue in March that was easily treated.

CyberKnife turned out to be a good choice for Gary. “Since then, my PSA numbers are down,” he says. “Things are going pretty good.”

Gary to men: “Get your PSA tested”

Gary was wary of prostate cancer treatment at first, well aware of the problems that can arise from surgery and the side effects, such as incontinence, erectile dysfunction and others.

“One of the down sides I’d heard was why bother with a PSA test because of all the false negatives and positives. And the biopsy could be more damaging than the cancer itself sometimes,” Gary recalls.

“But that turned out not to be the case. It was really simple. It sounds unpleasant, and it’s not going to be on your top five things to do, but it was not bad,” he says. “I was fine in a couple of hours. With that ultrasound-guided biopsy technique, the doctor can see pretty well. And Dr. Eigner is a quite skilled, dedicated surgeon.”

Once he learned he had prostate cancer, Gary got in touch with his three brothers and advised them they should have a PSA test. All now monitor their PSA level through routine testing.

“It’s our genetic makeup,” says Gary. “I was having prostate issues years ago, and my urologist asked if prostate cancer ran in the family. I didn’t know, so I called my dad and asked, Have you had any prostate issues? He said, I don’t even have a prostate anymore. That’s how I learned it ran in our family.”

That’s one thing Gary says men should know: The medical history of prostate cancer in their families. That puts them at higher risk.

“I take my hat off to my primary care physician for deciding to go back to the PSA testing,” Gary says. “And sure enough we caught it. If not, in 10 years it would have been all over my body.

“Get the PSA test: It’s really cheap and really easy,” advises Gary. He adds that if men see the PSA number rising, they should have a good discussion with their urologist. The doctor will let them know if they need a biopsy.

He says to find a doctor like Dr. Eigner who does ultrasound-guided biopsies to determine if you have prostate cancer. “That’s the best thing a man can do.”

Ready to schedule your own PSA test? Request an appointment

Rising PSA Had Gary Down in the Dumps, But CyberKnife Changed All That

A typical man who avoided prostate diagnostics, Gary turned to CyberKnife when the tests found cancer – and now recommends it to others.


Anova Cancer Care patient Gary and his wifeMeet Gary, your typical 69-year-old man. He enjoys being part of his grandson’s quarter midget race team traveling the United States, working part time at Evergreen Day School repairing everything that gets broken and working out regularly using a high-intensity slow motion routine to keep him strong, activities not uncommon for many men his age. Similarly, Gary shares something else in common with thousands of other American men ­– his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) has been rising steadily for years.

In response to this, Gary’s primary care physician was constantly nagging on him to run diagnostics, a reasonable request Gary resisted for as long as he could. Finally, he gave in and his doctor discovered lumps in his prostate. A subsequent biopsy confirmed that Gary had prostate cancer.

“I went home, I did all of the internet research and I basically found out that if you have prostate cancer you have three choices: you end up with impotence, incontinence or death,” said Gary. “After that I was really down in the dumps.”

This wasn’t Gary’s first cancer rodeo. In fact, a few years back Gary had been diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and given six months to live. Spoiler alert: he fought a hard fight and has been cancer-free since 2004.

This time Gary visited Urology Associates’ Dr. James Fagelson, a urologist who specializes in minimally invasive robotic surgery using the da Vinci system to treat prostate disease and prostate cancer. Despite his expertise in removing the prostate, Dr. Fagelson suggested that Gary speak with Anova Cancer Care, a partner of Urology Associates, about an innovative type of robotic radiosurgery called CyberKnife.

Saving his prostate, saving his virility

The doctors at Anova Cancer Care really convinced me that CyberKnife treatment was the way to go, said Gary. “I had my doubts because it sounded too good to be true, but I really did not want to have my prostate removed.”

After years of a good relationship as Dr. Fagelson’s patient, Gary relied on his opinion as to whether or not he should have the CyberKnife treatment or a prostatectomy using the da Vinci robotic device. Dr. Fagelson told Gary that if he were his age and going through the same ordeal, he would go with CyberKnife.

“That was surprising to me because he’s an expert in da Vinci robotic surgery,” said Gary. “That made up my mind. I did some research, relied on the doctor’s expert opinion and decided to undergo CyberKnife treatment.”

It was a “piece of cake,” according to Gary. He received five rounds of CyberKnife radiation treatment with virtually no discomfort. The staff at Anova Cancer Care gave him kind and thorough explanations, and Gary felt at ease calling in the days after the treatment with questions and concerns.

“When the Anova clinical team tells you to call them with problems, they mean it. You aren’t bothering them. They are there to help and they make that very clear,” Gary said.

“And I didn’t anticipate feeling this good. I’m 69 years old, just got off of my FloMax and my sex life is better than it was before the treatment.”

Gary still fervently recommends Anova Cancer Care to patients considering CyberKnife treatment.

“[The Anova Cancer Care] team are geniuses with the procedure,” said Gary. “I would tell anyone who is worrying about CyberKnife treatment to not even think about it and just do it. Don’t worry!”

PSA Levels Testing Controversy Resurfaces


In a recent Medical Fitness Network blog, Dr. James Fagelson discusses the findings from a recent Northwestern University study stating that metastatic (incurable) prostate cancer has increased by more than 90 percent in patients age 55-69 since 2004. This comes after a recommendation made in 2008 by the United States Preventive Services Task Force that advised doctors to cut back on PSA levels testing that evaluate levels of prostate-specific antigen that can indicate prostate cancer.

Read more about Dr. Fagelson’s stance on PSA testing

For Men with BPH Symptoms, No Drugs, No Surgeries, Just Relief

Two Colorado men experience what life was like before BPH – and Rezūm therapy

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlarged prostate and just about everyone knows that to have it means urinating a frustratingly small amount – and then needing to urinate again, and again, and again.

“A traffic jam on the interstate was a nightmare,” says 65-year-old Clarke Omdahle of Littleton, Colorado. “In short, I always planned my daily activities with the closest bathroom in mind.”Men with BPH | Rezum Therapy | Urology Associates

This was difficult for Clarke. After his morning coffee and using the bathroom before leaving work, he would still have to stop and find a bathroom after several miles on his way to work.

BPH symptoms weren’t very nice to 70-year-old Ken Whiteacre either, also of Littleton. “I would get up, mostly in the middle of the night – about 4 to 5 times – to go the bathroom,” says Ken. “It was often very hard to get back to sleep after that.”

Ken and Clarke faced the same scenario: If they didn’t get to a bathroom immediately, it was often too late. “I wore dark colored pants and pads as safeguards after a multitude of accidents,” Ken confides.

Not fun but not unusual. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common diagnosis made by urologists for men between the ages of 45 and 75. BPH is the most common health issue of the prostate. It is not linked to prostate cancer and does not cause problems in all men who have it. But for those who do, it can be tough.

After visiting Urology Associates, Clarke discovered that although his prostate was enlarged and his PSA was 8.0, which was high, he did not have prostate cancer. That was good news.

Traditional options for managing BPH symptoms include medication, surgery, lifestyle changes and active surveillance. Although these are still viable methods for treating the condition, both Ken and Clarke were looking for new and innovative alternatives. Luckily, they were both patients of Dr. Cowan.

Their Rezūm experience

Ken and Clarke were both looking for an option that wouldn’t require them to have surgery or take medication for the rest of their lives. They were both healthy men who led active lives and wanted to address the issues that BPH was causing them, head on.

It was determineddetermined that both men were good candidates for a new treatment procedure for BPH called Rezūm. Urology Associates was the first practice in Colorado to offer Rezūm, which uses stored energy that naturally occurs in water vapor to shrink prostate tissue in men with BPH.

In Rezūm therapy the physician inserts a small device through the man’s urethra that delivers water vapor directly into the prostate tissue that has been enlarged by BPH. The water vapor then kills the enlarged cells and the reduction in tissue relieves most of the bothersome symptoms. Clarke became the first person in the state to undergo the Rezūm procedure.

“As usual, the fear of the unknown (and the fact that a bunch of people were messing with my junk) made me pretty apprehensive,” says Clarke. “After the prep work, the actual procedure only took five minutes and it didn’t hurt.”

And it worked. According to Clarke, “I no longer have that nagging urge to find the closest bathroom at all times. The urine flow is stronger and I feel I am completely emptying my bladder.”

Ken also experienced great results after having the Rezūm treatment done.

“I’m down to getting up only about once a night, which is pretty standard for most men my age,” he says. “I feel like I’m pretty lucky compared to other men my age who have to take all kinds of medication for similar issues.”

Today Ken rides his bike, volunteers and does all of the things he enjoys with no problems. “The procedure is very quick and the staff and Dr. Cowan made it very simple and painless,” says Ken. “I was very happy with the Rezūm procedure.”

Clarke recalls his experience working with the Urology Associates staff and doctors to be very professional, supportive and understanding of the challenges he faced.

“I will always remember what they said to me as I went through testing, procedure and recovery,” said Clarke. “He said, ‘You may hate me now, but you’ll thank me later,’ and to that I say thank you.”

PSA Tests: The First Step To Prostate Cancer Discovery

mens-healthUrology Associates patient Gary Perkins, featured in a Men’s Health story about how PSA testing saved actor Ben Stiller’s life, had a history of rising PSA levels. This led UA’s Dr. James Fagelson to encourage further testing for Gary. Though his PSA levels were never off the charts, the continuous increase over time raised concern. After a prostate biopsy confirmed cancer, he underwent UA’s targeted radiation therapy treatment and is now cancer-free.

As Perkins’ case shows, PSA tests may not be conclusive but they can be an essential element in an early diagnosis, which is what saved both Gary and Stiller. So doctors must monitor changing PSA levels and do further tests on men with higher levels to confirm a prostate cancer diagnosis.

Ready about Gary in the Men’s Health story

Learn more about our stance on PSA testing

Metastatic Prostate Cancer on the Rise

Urology Associate’s offers a patient update on prostate cancer screening & PSA testing following a new study on rising prostate cancer rates.


Summary transcript

A great bombshell was dropped when a new study regarding prostate cancer screening was recently published.

For years, prostate cancer was diagnosed after screening with a PSA [prostate specific antigen] blood test and digital rectal exam. However, over time there was a decreased emphasis on PSA because we understand that it’s an imperfect test.

About 10 years ago the U.S. Public Health Task Force recommended a grade of D for PSA screening because of its imperfections.

In the urology community, we were very concerned about that recommendation because we felt that PSA screening was the only reason why deaths due to prostate cancer had dropped dramatically over the past 10-15 years.

In fact, the study released recently confirms that comparing 2003 data to 2013 data, there was a 72 percent increase of men presenting with metastatic or incurable disease.

In fact, in the group that we are most concerned about, men who are at highest risk between age 55 and 69, there was a remarkable 92 percent increase in presentation with metastatic or incurable disease.

We conclude that it is important for men to continue to get screened with PSA and digital rectal exam annually.

We understand that it’s an imperfect science, but we still believe that it’s the only way that will allow us to identify men who are at risk for early progression to metastatic disease.

We also understand that in today’s world we have dramatically enhanced abilities to stratify patients into risk groups. Specifically, we can identify patients that have such low risk of progression that we can offer active surveillance and actually no treatment. Therefore, no risk of the side effects that men are concerned about.

If in fact they have higher risk factors for progressive disease, then our treatment options today are much improved including both da Vinci robotic therapy, or stereotactic body radiation therapy, or CyberKnife radiation therapy for treatment with much, much less treatment-related side effects.

As a result of this data, we strongly recommend that men continue to do screening for prostate cancer using both PSA and digital rectal exam. This allows them the best chance of early diagnosis, early risk stratification and treatment, if necessary, to prevent death due to prostate cancer.

Learn About PSA Testing

Hardly Par for the Course Prostate Cancer Treatment

Diligent doctor checkups & radiation seeds removed this avid golfer’s slow-growing prostate cancer

prostate cancer success story | Brachytherapy treatment at urology associatesAs a 62-year-old self-employed retirement and financial planner for the past 40 years, James had a lot on his plate running his own business. Visiting the doctor wasn’t always his top priority.

Thankfully, James’ wife Toni, who happens to be his business partner as well as a registered nurse, made sure he went to the doctor each year. “I owe a great deal of my health and successful prostate treatment to her,” says James.

Seven years ago, following one of those annual checkups, James’ primary care physician discovered elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. The PSA level is recognized as the single best indicator for detecting prostate cancer occurrence and severity. His level was high enough to require a visit to a specialist.

James came to Dr. Brad Bell at Urology Associates. The relationship between doctor and patient is key — especially when treating cancer. For James and Dr. Bell, this was the easy part. The two struck an instant bond with each other from the beginning, and James said he felt like he could trust Dr. Bell from the start.

For men in their 70s and 80s diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s unlikely that the prostate cancer will be life threatening. However, each prostate cancer case comes under different circumstances and with varying patient goals, so it’s still important to assemble a treatment plan that both the patient and doctor agree on.

After his visit with Dr. Bell, James learned that the cancer was slow growing and contained within the prostate. Dr. Bell discussed the options and they decided on a treatment which utilizes radiation seeds placed internally.

Radiation seeds in, prostate cancer out

“I felt really comfortable with Dr. Bell and his strategy for treating my prostate cancer from day one,” said James. “He always explained every last detail, but also in simple terms that were easy to understand.”

In James’ treatment, radiation seeds were inserted directly into the prostate and released radio waves that killed the cancer cells but did not travel far. Treating prostate cancer this way has taken some flack in the past because of the reported incidence of side effects and loss of sexual function.* [see Author’s note]

“I didn’t experience any negative side affects,” says James. “Radiation may not be right for every man, but it certainly was for me.”

James says the procedure lasted a couple of hours and according to both him and Dr. Bell, the procedure went perfectly. “I couldn’t imagine a much easier cancer treatment,” says James. “I was out golfing later that week.”

Today, James’ PSA level is about as close to zero as it could be—a minuscule .01. James still sees Dr. Bell once a year to evaluate his PSA level, which continues to remain low.

“My recommendation is for every man to be aware of how common prostate cancer is and to treat it as quickly as possible,” says James.

*Author’s note: As of 2016, Urology Associates does not offer this treatment to patients and instead recommends CyberKnife technology for a majority of radiation treatments.

Learn more about prostate cancer 

Two Down but Testicular Cancer Free

Pete earned his “racing stripes” from surgery to remove his testicles at Christmas time — and they proved to be a life-saving gift.

Truck on the roadIf people like Pete Bowes weren’t tirelessly at their work, this country would grind to a halt. Pete has driven a 53-foot semi-truck every day for the past seven years!

Like other truck drivers, he often spends days many miles away from friends and family, and doesn’t have the luxury of a “normal” schedule. Pete’s usually on the road during the holiday season when the rest of us are enjoying quality time with our families.

But Christmas holiday 2014 was unlike any other he had ever experienced.

All through that year, Pete had struggled with an abnormal hardening in his testicles. They were also growing smaller and less and less sensitive to touch.

“I knew something wasn’t normal,” says Pete. “You could have kicked me in places that men do not like to be kicked, and I wouldn’t have felt much.”

After visiting his primary care physician about the issues, Pete had an ultrasound scheduled on December 24, 2014 – Christmas Eve. When the ultrasound was completed, Pete began to drive away from the office only to be called back immediately. The results were not good and they wanted to send him to a specialist.

We need to fix this, now

Having been a patient of Urology Associates (UA) in previous years, Pete reached out to and made an appointment with Dr. Edward Eigner – for that same afternoon.

“Dr. Eigner took one look at my history and my ultrasound results, and told me, in a truthful manner, that something was very wrong and it needed to be addressed,” says Pete. “He asked me what I was doing that Saturday, December 26 – the day after Christmas.”

Although uncertain about the specific prognosis, Dr. Eigner understood that if any testicular growth is found, it tends to be malignant testicular cancer and could get rapidly worse.

“It was a worrisome situation. The ultrasound and the exam were distinctly abnormal and there was a real threat of a dangerous issue ongoing,” says Dr. Eigner. “We zeroed in on the threat and wanted to promptly address it.”

Despite the holiday, Dr. Eigner scheduled Pete on the coming Saturday for testicle removal, a surgical procedure called an inguinal bilateral orchiectomy in which both testicles are removed. Dr. Eigner and the staff took the time to carefully explain all of the pre-operational details of the procedure, what was going to happen and what Pete could expect after the surgery.

“The fact that all of this happened over the holidays certainly complicated things. There were lots of staff who had taken time off to spend with their families so it was a little hectic,” says Pete.

“They saw me on a Saturday – the Saturday after Christmas at that. But that’s the level of concern and compassion that was displayed. Dr. Eigner and the staff at Urology Associates were willing to make it work, no matter what day it was.”

Dr. Eigner performed Pete’s surgery on Saturday morning and he was released for recovery that afternoon. Pete recalls both a UA nurse and a physicians assistant calling him to make sure he was comfortable and had everything he needed.

“I was as comfortable as you can be with two four-inch incisions in your abdomen,” Pete adds with a laugh. He now comically refers to the incision scars as his “racing stripes.”

While Pete recovered, UA sent his results to Cleveland Clinic for a second opinion on the pathology report, much like the online second opinion service UA also offers. That’s where things stood for the next few weeks, waiting for the results to come back from Cleveland Clinic.

“They told me that they still didn’t know what it was,” says Pete, “but they knew what it wasn’t – which was malignant.”

Pete found that the diagnosis was a benign tumor due to fibrous scarring from previous trauma. Although the tumor was benign, his testicles had been shutting down for the past few years.

“Throughout that entire process, Dr. Eigner and his staff were there for me and were more than willing to answer any questions that I had,” Pete says. “Ultimately, it was the best news that I could have received in that situation. My ‘kids’ are gone, but I’m cancer-free!”

Vasectomy Myths Debunked

A vasectomy is the most reliable form of permanent birth control, so why aren’t more men having them done?

Vasectomy Myths | Denver Urology

One of the most common procedures we conduct at Urology Associates is a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a form of permanent male birth control by permanent sterilization that prevents the release of sperm to mix with semen when a man ejaculates.

Compared with the female sterilization process of having the fallopian tubes “tied,” vasectomies are much more reliable, faster and safer. So why do only 9 percent of sexually active men in the United States get vasectomies, while 27 percent of women get tubal ligations?

Well, there’s a lot of fear involved when men think about vasectomy, because they’ve been buying into myths about the V word.

In an attempt to debunk the various myths surrounding vasectomies and get all the facts out in the open, I’ve compiled a list of typical misunderstandings that patients have regarding vasectomies.

A vasectomy murders your sex drive

No way. A vasectomy will not affect your sexual desire, sex drive or your ability to have erections and ejaculate. Everything, including your orgasms, should remain unchanged. Although it’s important to wait until you feel recovered enough to have sex following the procedure. Some men experience mild aching in their testicles when they are sexually aroused, however most of the enjoyable aspects of intercourse won’t be altered.

A vasectomy hurts like the Dickens

I get it, it’s a sensitive area and you are likely anxious about a surgery around this part of your body. While every patient is unique and some discomfort is always possible with any surgery, a vasectomy generally is not painful. Some patients may experience a slight tugging or pulling while the doctor locates the vas deferens during the procedure, as well as a dull ache and mild pain in the scrotum and groin as the anesthesia wears off. In order to reduce pain and swelling you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication or apply a bag of ice or frozen vegetables to the affected area. If pain lasts for longer than a week and the symptoms aren’t getting any better, it is important to let your physician know.

I’m going to have a long, painful recovery

Not really. Many patients are pleasantly surprised with how quickly they are able to get back in action. Patients usually recover from a vasectomy in about a week. I recommend they wait a few days before having sex or jumping back into strenuous activity.

One of the most important parts of recovery from a vasectomy is rest. Many men, after my own heart, schedule their procedure during March Madness. It’s a great opportunity to grab a bag of frozen peas and post up on the couch for a couple of days while your body recovers.

A vasectomy procedure takes a good while and feels weird

Weird? Maybe the idea can make you feel weird, but the procedure is very quick, lasting about 20-30 minutes from start to finish. Here’s what to expect:

  • A local anesthetic to numb the scrotum.
  • A small puncture with needle is made on each side of the scrotum.
  • The doctor finds, cuts and seals the vas deferens, the small tubes sperm travel in to mix with semen.
  • The cut tubes are returned to the scrotum and closed with a few small stitches.

Patients who are considering having a vasectomy should be sure about not wanting to have any more children in the future. By blocking the vas deferens during the procedure, the sperm’s pathway is blocked, it can’t combine with the semen that is ejaculated during sexual climax. Without sperm a woman’s egg cannot become fertilized in order to result in a pregnancy.

Vasectomies fail and men end up getting women pregnant

Here’s where old data might be tripping you up. Over the years, urologists have greatly improved vasectomy success rates. Today, if done properly by a well trained and experienced surgeon, failure rates for vasectomies are around 0 percent. It’s considered the most effective form of birth control.

But, just because you’ve had a vasectomy doesn’t mean that it’s immediately effective. It usually takes 10 to 20 ejaculations to clear sperm completely from the semen. Only 1 to 2 women out of 1,000 will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year after their partners have had a vasectomy – and that’s typically due to failure to wait until sperm has completely cleared from the semen before having intercourse without birth control. After a vasectomy, sperm produced is absorbed into the body.

It’s a good idea to check back in with your doctor for a sperm count before forgoing other birth control methods. Very rarely, the vas deferens will spontaneously reconnect on their own allowing the sperm to mix with semen.

Having a vasectomy will make my semen look funny

For the most part, your ejaculatory fluid will look exactly the same as it did prior to the vasectomy procedure, because less than 3 percent of the volume of ejaculate is made up of sperm. Because the tubes are blocked before the seminal vesicles and the prostate, you will still ejaculate the same amount of fluid, just without the sperm.

If I change my mind and want children, I’m out of luck

Actually, the “permanent” in permanent sterilization can be reversed by reconnecting the vas deferens in vasectomy reversal. But it’s a difficult procedure.

During a vasectomy reversal, the surgeon will make a small incision on either side of the scrotum and check the vas deferens fluid for sperm. If sperm is present, the physician will reconnect the ends of the vas deferens to the epididymis, thereby allowing sperm to pass through again. If there is no sperm, the surgeon will need to perform a more difficult procedure to bypass the blockage in the epididymis to reconnect the vas deferens.

A vasectomy reversal’s efficacy varies depending on how long it’s been since the initial sterilization, how it was done and the patient’s overall health condition. Another consideration is that a vasectomy reversal is a very delicate process that requires an experienced surgeon. The procedure can take, on average, 4 to 5 hours. About 10,000-30,000 men reverse their vasectomies annually.