Last Sunday, the Premier Cares Foundation held their 10th annual Prostate Cancer Walk, starting at the Ulster Welcome Center at the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Dr. Evan Goldfischer, of the Premier Medical Group, and his wife established the Foundation 11 years ago.
“We realized there are a lot of organizations in the Hudson Valley that took care of women’s health but there was no real organization that dealt with just men’s health and prostate cancer,” he said. “A lot of men don’t like talking about it, so we felt there was a need to raise awareness so people would get screened, get treated earlier and be cured.”
Dr. Goldfischer looks at the Foundation, “as neighbors helping neighbors.” He said they raised $50,000 at this years Prostate Walk and he expects to raise up to $200,000 in 2019.
Dr. Goldfischer said all of the money stays in the Hudson Valley to help patients with prostate or colon cancers. The Foundation’s mission statement says they, “provide support, education, awareness and treatment to those individuals in our community lacking sufficient funds to address significant urological and digestive issues including but not limited to prostate and colon cancer.”
Dr. Goldfischer said the Foundation is a way to give back to a community, “that has been really good to me in the 21 years I’ve been here helping to build and support my practice and it’s small enough that we want to give back to the people who have helped us.”
Dr. Goldfischer said about 200,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in the United States and each year about 30,000 men die from the disease. He said the good news is that this number represents a 33% drop since the 1990s due to early detection and new drugs that are now available to patients.
Dr Goldfischer said the first step is having a blood test to determine the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) and an examination. Some of the symptoms of prostate cancer are: visible blood in semen and/or urine; an increased need to urinate; a burning sensation during urination and/or ejaculation; pain during sex; fatigue; unexplained weight loss; nausea; pain in the crotch, thighs, and back; swelling of the penis; difficulty urinating when standing up and difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine.
Dr. Goldfischer said typically men should have a PSA test done when they turn 50 but if there is a history of prostate cancer in the family or they are African-American, annual screenings should start at age 40.
“The incidence is higher in African-Americans due to genetics. The youngest gentleman that I diagnosed with prostate cancer here in the Hudson Valley was an African American male who was 36 years old,” he said. “There are actually a lot of genetic tests right now that can tell you if you are at risk for prostate cancer. So that will help.”
People can easily find out more about the Foundation and how they can receive help by going to the website premiercaresfoundation.org. In the past decade the Foundation has raised more than $600,000 to help Hudson Valley cancer patients, who are suffering from urological or GI diseases, by funding needed support services that are not covered by insurance companies.
Justin Floch showed people the da Vinci xi Surgical System, an FDA approved robotic system that uses a minimally invasive surgical approach and is viewed and controlled by a Doctor from a console. This model allows for small probes to be inserted into a patient that gives a 3D picture instead of just a 2D picture.
Floch said this particular xi machine is used for, “anything basically in the abdomen; hysterectomies, prostates, gall bladders, colorectal surgery and can take samples for biopsies.”
Lloyd Police Lieutenant James Janso and his wife and children were walking because, “two immediate family members had it and survived it, thank God. We’re here to show our support for the walk and hopefully find a cure. The test is easy and you just keep monitoring it. I think in the initial stage people are frightened of it and men put it off and put it off; Guys are hard-headed.”
As the walk was set to begin, Dr. Goldfischer welcomed everyone to the 2019 Premier Cares Foundation Annual Prostate Walk.
“Every year this event just seems to get better with a greater turnout. I look around here and I’m seeing the faces of the many prostate cancer survivors, thanks to all the new therapies.” Dr. Goldfischer thanked family members and friends for supporting their loved ones in their time of need and the many medical professionals who have played an important role in their recovery.
After the walk, Mike Capazoli said success in beating this type of cancer is early detection when you have symptoms.
“I didn’t do that and ended up with stage III prostate cancer,” he said. “You can avoid all of that by going to the doctor and getting checked up and Premier Urology is the place to go. Don’t wait go get tested. These guys are super docs and you can’t go wrong.”
Gia McCormack, Executive Director of the Premier Cares Foundation, said, “I work with a great group of volunteers and a board and what makes our Foundation special is that all of our money stays local and we’re helping patients right here in the area.” McCormack said they sometimes pay for wigs for patients undergoing chemotherapy, pay an electric bill to someone in need or provide transportation to and from doctor visits.
“We’re really trying to fill that void during a difficult time,” she said. “We don’t pay medical bills but we’re offsetting by helping to pay for groceries, gas or a wheelchair. They fill out a form and we get a doctor’s note; it’s pretty simple for us to help these patients. The work we do is so important.”
McCormack said there are two more big fundraising events for the Foundation: on October 5 a Premier Dining Event is scheduled at a residence in Rhinecliff and a chili festival set for next March at Villa Borghese in Wappingers Falls.
Dr Lawrence Koutcher, of Professional Radiation Oncology Services, said the event went well, with a good turnout.
“It’s important to raise awareness of this so men can have their prostate cancers detected early and that leads to better outcomes and better cure rates,” he said. “It’s always nice to go out to see colleagues and patients and see their families and come out for a good cause and help in any way that we can.”