By Josh Grossberg
Changing doctors places a patient on a remarkable road to recovery from bladder cancer
The first doctor told Larry Urish he was dehydrated. “Come back in three months,” the doctor said.
When his condition didn’t improve, a second doctor told him, “Let’s wait it out.”
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The third doctor told Urish he had an aggressive tumor in his bladder. Several treatments followed after his August 2012 diagnosis, but Urish felt uneasy with the quality of his care he was receiving. Doctors were preoccupied and waits were long. Urish was feeling more like a number than a patient.
He decided to change doctors one more time. He had heard good things about Keck Medical Center of USC and Sia Daneshmand, MD, associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of urologic oncology at the USC Institute of Urology. He came to the hospital in February and noticed the difference immediately.
“It felt personal,” he said. “The staff wasn’t ridiculously overworked. It wasn’t a ‘bladder mill.’ The difference was stunning.”
After meeting Daneshmand and discussing his cancer, Urish knew had found the right place.
“I didn’t realize how much I didn’t trust that first urologist until I met someone I could trust,” said the 54-year-old Santa Ana resident.
The switch of doctors made a world of difference. Not only wasn’t the tumor responding to the original treatment, a new diagnostic tool known as blue light cystoscopy was able to detect a second tumor Urish didn’t even know about. The cystoscopy technology was not available at any other hospital on the West Coast.
Unfortunately, the tumors were too advanced for Urish’s bladder to be saved; Daneshmand removed it on April 8, 2013, and built a new bladder from Urish’s own intestine (known as a neobladder). The operation went without a hitch.
“I felt zero pain from the moment I woke up until now,” he said. “Zero. I’ve hurt myself more [by] flossing [teeth].”
According to Daneshmand, a close doctor-patient relationship is key to the success of major surgery.
“The interaction between a surgeon and the patient is critical,” Daneshmand states, “particularly when it involves a major life-changing decision like removing a bladder. It is paramount for the surgeon to take the time to explain the surgery, the ramifications and the expected outcomes. Larry has made a spectacular recovery and should be cured of his cancer, with preservation of his quality of life.”
Only four months after the operation, Urish now ventures on 50-mile bike trips. And he remains a huge fan of his medical team. “To say USC is spectacular is an understatement,” Urish said. “If something happened to me, and I lived in Siberia, I would go to USC.”