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Second Opinion Leads to First-rate Care

Patient Stories, Cancer, Cancer/Oncology

When Jack’s* annual physical showed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level was elevated, his primary care doctor referred him to a urologist. After a biopsy, Jack got the news he feared: He had prostate cancer.

The urologist’s plan was to do surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Jack’s brother, who had been through this cancer himself, suggested Jack get a second opinion from Dr. Aaron Hicks, a radiation oncologist at Adventist Health Portland, before deciding on a treatment plan.

After a consultation, Jack knew he had made the right choice. Dr. Hicks offered a different plan — one that combined radiation with medication to avoid surgery if possible.

Jack was grateful. After that meeting, he told Dr. Hicks, “I’m going with you.”

Dr. Hicks started Jack on medication to reduce testosterone before beginning radiation. Jack’s course of radiation treatments covered about two months.

“Going through radiation, it’s not fun,” Jack explains. “It can be very uncomfortable. But the physicians, the nursing, the techs — they’re all very professional, very caring people and very compassionate. I feel very fortunate.”

The treatment was a success, and more than five years later Jack is still cancer-free. He is especially grateful to Dr. Hicks. “I would recommend him in a heartbeat to anyone who has cancer who has to go through radiation oncology,” Jack says. “He’s the best. He always listens, even if he doesn’t agree with you.”

Jack also wants other patients to know they can explore their options. “I’m a firm believer in second options anytime somebody starts talking surgery,” he says. “Get a second opinion, always.”

*Patient named changed for privacy.