Last August, I celebrated my 45th—and final—radiation treatment for prostate cancer with Gong Day—ringing a large brass gong in the cancer center’s office. But another treatment continued.

Two days ago, I received the last of six quarterly shots of Lupron, which suppresses testosterone, the environment in which prostate cancer cells form and multiply. My urologist’s office lacks a gong, so I rang one internally. My PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) score again was undetectable. When this last shot wears off, my PSA should rise to about 1.0. That’s way below any level of concern.

I write this to pass on the good news and tell men that watching out for prostate cancer shouldn’t be considered an option—or an embarrassment. I reference a puzzling comics panel in the San Francisco Chronicle (12-8-17): “The Fusco Brothers” by J.C. Duffy. One brother appears in a urologist’s office wearing a t-shirt declaring #1 PROSTATE. Doctor: “As a urologist, I’m naturally curious about your t-shirt, Mr. Fusco.” Fusco: “It’s just my way of saying, ‘Nothing to see here!’”

Help me out. Has the doctor notseen Fusco’s PSA results (by no means conclusive), examined his urine or given him a rectal exam? Or is he about to? Fusco is visiting a urologist, which leads me to believe his primary-care physician sent him. Did the primary believe Fusco had a different problem. Bladder, perhaps?

Now to Fusco’s statement. Does “Nothing to see here” mean he anticipates a clean prostate exam? Or, having kept his appointment, is he trying to back out?

Fusco’s smile—or smirk—suggests that his prostate has been given a clean bill of health; he wore the t-short anticipating this and to inform readers that men should follow his example. Get checked. Or maybe, following the sardonic tone of the strip, he’s a doofus, mortified by the exam process.

If you’ve got a good read on this, let me know. But I can state without reservation that blood tests for PSA don’t hurt (and they offer juice), any man can pee into a plastic cup (the bathroom’s private) and a rectal exam (while imperfect) can provide a urologist with useful information.

I’m glad my urologist followed up for several years, used some advanced technology and caught my cancer. Has treatment been a thrill? No. Difficult? Also no. The cancer center with the radiation machine I call “The Beast” has a TV and pool table—which I used. Coffee, too. I experienced some fatigue and went to the bathroom a lot. But after radiation ended, the bathroom bit slowed way down. Energy returned.

The Lupron shots produce hot flashes, but lighter clothes get me through the day and a cool bedroom helps me sleep. Critically, hormone shots offer great odds that I’ll avoid a recurrence of cancer for a long time—hopefully forever. (Although at some advanced age, it won’t matter.)

This year, 29,000 American men will die because they ignored their prostate. Forget the awkwardness of a cartoon character and take it from a real flesh-and-blood guy who’s been there. A #1 prostate is one that gets checked regularly. And if needed, undergoes a relatively short period of treatment that can produce long years of health, activity and joy.

To respond, click on “comments” to the right just below the title of this post. Then go to the response space at the bottom of the post.


  1. Tracy on July 27, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Mazel tov on the completion of treatment. The title of your post got me thinking about Gene Gene the Dancing Machine. Maybe we should throw stuffed animals at you too?


    Shabbat Shalom

    • David on July 27, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      Throw stuffed animals at the nearest shelter for battered families. I feel great. I’d feel even better.

  2. Jerry on July 27, 2018 at 8:51 pm


    • David on July 27, 2018 at 9:58 pm

      Thanks, Jerry.

  3. Sandy Lipkowitz on July 28, 2018 at 12:15 am

    Great news David. I have a similar story being a colon cancer survivor. Not a fun test to have a colonoscopy, but it sure beats the alternative of doing nothing and dying from colon cancer. Colon cancer is one of the most deadly cancers and also one of the most curable if detected early. I’m a testament to that. I’m going on 22 years cancer free. I want you to have the same result.

    • David on July 28, 2018 at 4:41 am

      Thanks, Sandy. Twenty-two years from now I’ll be 96. Not sure how that will work out.

  4. Jesse on July 28, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Missed you guys yesterday….
    Just got back from 10 says on “The Island”, The Rockaways and Long Beach
    And I turn 65 today, as of know!
    Wonderful article (billy crystal) and Congradulations
    On finishing your treatments!

    • David on July 28, 2018 at 9:12 pm

      Happy birthday! We’ll catch up.

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