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Bruse Worsley, Prostate Cancer

When Bruce Worsley went to get his annual physical exam at age 49, he assumed he'd be given a clean bill of health, as usual. So when his doctor told him his blood work showed an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA), which can indicate problems with the prostate gland, he was surprised. "My doctor told me it was a good thing we checked, because it was an 8," recalls Worsley.

An elevated PSA can be due to inflammation or infection, so his physician gave him a course of antibiotics. However, a follow-up blood test revealed a PSA of 10. The next step was a biopsy, and it showed cancer.

"They found that it was really aggressive, really bad, and I was going to need to get it treated right away," says Worsley. "I freaked out when I first heard."

Worsley was referred to Dr. Tim Lesser, a physician at Torrance Memorial Medical Center and a partner at South Bay Urology Medical Group. "Dr. Lesser was incredible," says Worsley. His youthful energy, sense of humor, and thorough explanations helped ease Worsley's anxiousness over the diagnosis.

Lesser recommended removal of the prostate, or a radical prostatectomy. The majority of prostatectomies are now done using robotics, a minimally invasive procedure that can result in less blood loss, less pain, and a speedier recovery compared to an open surgery. But experience using the robotics platform is critical to the surgery's success. Worsley was lucky to have found Dr. Lesser, one of the main urologic oncologists using robotics in the South Bay, and to be at Torrance Memorial, where the large volume of robotic prostatectomies means a highly-skilled clinical team.

A fast recovery was important to Worsley, who works three jobs, regularly goes in on holidays, and hasn't missed a day of work in over 15 years. As a single dad raising a 13-year-old son (he also has an adult son), he also needed to be around for basketball practices and school schedules.

"Before I went into surgery, I said to Dr. Lesser, 'my life is in your hand,'" recalls Worsley, who knew that the surgery had potential risks, like problems with continence and impotence.

He had the surgery on a Thursday and was back to work three days later. "Dr. Lesser told me to take two weeks off, but I told him I can't do it, I have to go back to work."

Worsley's dogged work ethic helped him on the road to recovery. He went to physical therapy to learn to regain bladder control and was soon back riding his Harley Davidson, also probably before Dr. Lesser would have liked. He had very little pain and no problems with impotence or incontinence. "Everything works," says Worsley.

Worsley gives credit to Dr. Lesser and Torrance Memorial for helping him make the seamless ride back to health.

"Everything at Torrance Memorial was awesome; the people, the place. It was as good as it could be," says Worsley.

Two years later, he regularly lifts weights and "schools" the other guys at the gym. He rides his Harley everywhere, even back to Torrance Memorial to get his semi-annual PSA check.

His positive experience has spurred him to share his story with others recently diagnosed. "I want to inspire someone not to be freaked out like I was. I want to help other men not to be so scared."

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