Bob Archenhold Has Another Name for Prostate Cancer—“Tsuris”

Bob Archenhold is quick to tell you that funnymen Mel Brooks and Jerry Lewis are two of his heroes. So, it’s no surprise that this wise-cracking 70-year-old uses humor to cope with stressful situations—including a prostate cancer diagnosis.

For decades, Bob would share jokes with his long-time urologist Dr. Ira Hollander before getting the results of his PSA test (which always ranged around 6.2, 6.5). After Dr. Hollander retired, Bob’s sense of humor didn’t skip a beat with Dr. Geoffrey Nuss—who stepped in two years ago. But last September, Dr. Nuss delivered some not-so-funny news.  

“He told me, ‘Your PSA is 7.2—up eight-tenths of a point over last year. You’re going for an MRI.”

The MRI revealed a couple “areas of concern,” so Bob went to USMD Prostate Cancer Center in Arlington for a biopsy.

“Dr. Richard Bevan-Thomas took four samples,” he says.

While Bob has a great sense of humor, he’s a pragmatist, too.

“I’m a Jew, we’re pessimists by nature,” he says. “I tend to look for the worst in every situation, then if it’s less than the worst it’s a nice surprise. I was fully prepared for Dr. Bevan-Thomas to tell me I had prostate cancer.”

As it turned out, three of the four biopsy samples were negative. “Only one was positive, but it was a loo-loo,” Bob admits. “The tumor was small, but it was virulent—it was very aggressive. My Gleason number was an 8 out of possible 10. Eight out of 10 is a very aggressive little son-of-a-bitch. Dr. Bevan-Thomas said it appeared to be contained within the prostate gland.”

Just to be sure, Dr. Bevan-Thomas ordered a full body scan to confirm the cancer had not spread beyond Bob’s prostate. It hadn’t.

“That was good news—I had choices. Do something or do nothing,” he says. “Of course, doing nothing is doing something.”  

Bob wasn’t about to do nothing.
“There was no way I was going to sit around and let the thing grow and grow,” he says. “There are a lot more things I want to do in my life. There are still a few thousand books I want to read. There are places I haven’t been that I want to visit. I’m in love with my wife. I like being with her, and I’d like to have more years with her—years with reasonable health in which we can do things. All that stuff came into play.”

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) also meant a prostatectomy was Bob’s best treatment option.

“Dr. Bevan-Thomas said, ‘Your prostate is way too large to consider radiation, and we can’t freeze it.’ I said, “I’m way ahead of you. That’s fine, take it out. It was an easy decision. It was hardly a decision at all.”

While Bob’s sense of humor helps him cope with stress, his faith gives him strength.

“The way I figure it, Ha-Shem (which literally means “The Name” that refers to the Divine) put His hands on my head. I was very fortunate,” he says.

Bob also has high praise for Dr. Bevan-Thomas, of whom he says there isn’t a finer surgeon. Dr. Bevan-Thomas performed Bob’s robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy on December 22, 2016.

“The robot is absolutely the way to go,” Bob adds. “It went exactly as anticipated. I spent one night in the hospital, came home the next day. I don’t think that I took any pain meds when I got home. I don’t recall taking any. If I did, it was just the first day or two, but that was all. After that, I took Tylenol. If men are afraid of post-surgical pain, I think it’s an unnecessary fear—it’s understandable, but you will find that the pain is virtually non-existent.”

Bob is also pleased with the results following his prostatectomy. “I’ve had two follow-up PSAs. Both have been zero,” he adds. “The prostatectomy did exactly what it was supposed to do.”

While he is happy to be cancer-free, Bob has experienced some side effects.

“How do I put this delicately? I ain’t the man I once was,” he says. “I’m 70 years old, what the hell. I’ve gotten laid enough in my life. I’d prefer to have not had the prostatic carcinoma, but it happened. You’d don’t get everything you want. Life is not perfect. Everybody has “tsuris” (the Yiddish word for trouble). You don’t get through life without it. You deal with it. There’s a quotation in the Talmud that says “Who is a wealthy man? He who is happy with his lot.”

Bob is happy with his lot. His wife, Susan, has been very supportive and was “absolutely in favor” of his treatment choice.  As it turns out, they are now a two-cancer survivor family. Susan is cancer-free following her 2008 lumpectomy for breast cancer.  

“We lucked out on that, too,” Bob adds. “Ha-Shem put His hands on her head because it was Stage 1.”

While Bob is still dealing with some nighttime urine leaks, he know his body is still healing. 

“I’m fine during the day. Right after the surgery, I was wearing Depends 24 hours a day. I’m not doing that anymore. I don’t need them during the day. I have good bladder control when I’m up and active, but still wearing one at night when I go to bed, and I don’t know how long that will continue. The last time I saw Dr. Bevan-Thomas, we talked about it. I told him if I go the rest of my life wearing a Depends at night, that’s okay—I can live with that because I’m alive. I’m willing to pay that price. And he said, “Well, I’m not. I want to get you dry.”

Bob appreciates the candor, care and support he’s received during his experience.

“I can’t emphasis the top-quality treatment that I received from everyone at USMD,” he says. “Dr. Bevan-Thomas’ office staff are good folks—patient navigator Pamela Turner, practice administrator Dana Hill, patient access rep Victor Barrios, medical assistants Marquita Wright and Ray Razzo, the fifth-floor nurses, everybody—they all were very uplifting. If it’s possible to enjoy going to a doctor’s appointment, I actually enjoy going out there to see them.”

And for men who may be skeptical about PSA testing, Bob offers this:

“Listen to me. Listen to what I say. The PSA works like a champ. The test works. That’s how my tumor was officially spotted. Get your PSA tested. It works. If you don’t do it, you’re a fool—a fool with a death wish.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would like to know more about your treatment options, please contact USMD Prostate Cancer Center online or at 1-888-PROSTATE (1-888-776-7828).

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