Patient Stories

CEO Promotes Men’s Urological Health

Originally published February 5, 2024

Last updated May 24, 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Search more articles

USC Health Magazine 2024 Issue #1

Read the current issue

Download PDF
CEO and cancer survivor Joe Czyzyk smiles in a blue suit and tie for a headshot portrait

Joe Czyzyk, a survivor of both bladder and prostate cancer, warns men who ignore their urological health that they’re “walking a tightrope.”

When it comes to men’s health, much of the advice isn’t new: watch your diet, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and monitor cholesterol. These things are essential, but there is also another aspect that requires careful vigilance: urological health.

Symptoms of possible bladder or prostate cancer, as well as complications from treatments that include risks of incontinence or erectile dysfunction, can be the source of embarrassment — and therefore difficult to discuss openly.  

For Los Angeles CEO and civic leader Joe Czyzyk, a survivor of both bladder and prostate cancer, promoting more awareness and open discussion of these issues has become a mission.

“Most men will tell you they don’t have time,” he says. “There’s sometimes a sense of embarrassment or machismo. A very close friend of mine who was a busy CEO was having issues with his bladder and was urinating blood occasionally.

“‘You need to see your urologist,’ I told him. He said he would when he had time. By the time he finally went to see a urologist, it was too late. His condition had worsened, and he died from bladder cancer.”

Highly specialized screening methods for bladder cancer

Joe is the former chairman of the board of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and US VETS, a nonprofit organization working to help homeless veterans. He has served under three consecutive mayors of Los Angeles on the city’s taxicab commission, including as president.

Now the chairman and CEO of Mercury Aviation Companies, a global aviation services company, Joe is often surprised by his male friends’ lack of knowledge about their options if cancer is detected. It’s not always surgery or radiation that gets the job done.

In 2016, Joe was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He underwent surgery for it, and in the aftermath, he and his wife Farima, a nurse and researcher, sought a post-operative prevention program rather than just an annual checkup with the surgical team.

“Farima did extensive research,” Joe says, adding that their experiences with out-of-state specialists had left them dissatisfied.  

As Joe sought better follow-up care and monitoring of his urological health, Farima’s research led them just 30 minutes away from home — to USC Urology, part of Keck Medicine of USC.

USC Urology offers crucial care options that aren’t often found at other institutions, such as blue light cystoscopy to screen for early signs of bladder cancer recurrence.

Sia Daneshmand, MD, director of urologic oncology for USC Urology, was one of the early adopters of the technique. According to Dr. Daneshmand, he has performed more of them than any other physician in the US. Research has shown it reduces the chances of tumors coming back by 12-43%.

Joe met with Dr. Daneshmand for blue light cystoscopy appointments every four months. After six years, Joe’s bladder cancer has not returned.

Another innovative tool in the kit at Keck Medicine is treatment with BCG, a derivative of the tuberculosis vaccine, which is well-established in treating bladder tumors, but not always offered in hospital settings.

“Bladder cancer that is discovered early and is nonmuscle invasive,” Dr. Daneshmand says, “can be treated with BCG or other medications in the bladder. All cancer diagnoses, however, require a resection of the tumor through a scope in the bladder.”

HIFU: an outpatient, nonsurgical intervention for prostate cancer

In 2022, following a sudden surge in his PSA numbers, Joe was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Through Keck Medicine, he was able to undergo an innovative, nonsurgical treatment called HIFU, which uses high frequency ultrasound to kill tumor cells.

Because of very precise and advanced imaging, the outpatient procedure carries a much lower risk of incontinence or erectile dysfunction, says Amir Lebastchi, MD, a Keck Medicine urologist who performed the procedure on Joe.   

Now more than one year out from his HIFU treatment with Dr. Lebastchi, Joe remains free of both bladder and prostate cancer, having needed neither chemo nor radiation.

He remains a passionate advocate for innovative urological research and continues to encourage other men to seek the care they need.

Advocating for better prevention mindset

Having navigated his own bouts with urological cancer, Joe recommends that other men keep the following tips in mind:

  • Pay attention to warning signs such as sudden frequent urination or blood in the urine.
  • Get annual PSA screenings.
  • Investigate treatment options backed by medical evidence.
  • Seek out expert physicians who have a track record of success.
  • Make time to see more of your doctors, not less.
  • Work with doctors who treat you like a person, not a case, and establish a trusting relationship with you.
  • Make sure your doctors are willing to coordinate your care with the other members of your medical team.
  • Quit smoking. (“Toxins in the body end up in the urinary tract and exert their effect on the bladder cells,” Dr. Daneshmand says. “This is how cigarette smoking leads to bladder cancer.”)
  • Spread the word.

Connect With Our Team

Our USC Urologic Oncology Program team offers patient-centered care and cutting-edge treatment therapies. Whether you have a simple or complex condition, our team of renowned doctors and surgeons are your dedicated partners in care.
Learn More


Janice OLeary
Janice OLeary is a senior writer and digital director for advancement for Keck Medicine of USC.

Search more articles

USC Health Magazine 2024 Issue #1

Read the current issue

Download PDF