Speaking Up for Others And Himself

Jeffrey Markowicz has built a successful career in part because of his speaking ability. As an attorney in private practice and an administrative judge he understands the power of the spoken word. So it is not surprising that in July 2014 when he discovered he had an elevated PSA and subsequently an early prostate cancer, he spoke up --- to friends, friends of friends, and family, seeking information about his test results and points of view about next steps.

Even at a relatively young 43 years of age, Jeffrey had known he was at high risk for prostate cancer. His biological father had received the diagnosis when he was 60 and two uncles died of the disease. As an African American, his race put him at high risk in addition to family history and he could not ignore the fact that African Americans are more than two times as likely to die from Prostate Cancer as Caucasians.

When he received his diagnosis, his urologist named one physician for him to see: Dr. Ash Tewari, Chair of the Department of Urology at Mount Sinai Health System and a renowned prostate cancer surgeon. Jeff’s understanding was that Dr. Tewari was the among the most skilled anywhere and immediately made an appointment. Dr. Tewari considered Jeff’s history and test results and recommended specialized MRI of the prostate. Looking at his very young age and imaging results, Dr. Tewari recommended nerve preserving robotic surgery for Jeffrey. Dr. Tewari predicted that Jeffrey had more than Gleason 6 based on the MRI findings.

Although Dr. Tewari’s reasoning made sense, Jeff had hoped that he would be an active surveillance candidate (Dr. Tewari has one of the largest active surveillance cohorts in New York). So he decided to seek a second opinion. Fast forward to March of 2015, just over a half year later and a second biopsy that indicated a Gleason score of 7. Jeff was ready. He called Dr. Tewari and said asked for a surgery date; he did not want to delay any longer. He got one the same day and his prostate was removed robotically on April 7.

Jeffrey’s surgery was uneventful and he left the hospital the next day (“29 hours”, he is happy to report), and he has had a smooth recovery. He credits most of that success to the expertise of Dr. Tewari and his staff. And also their TLC. “Dr. Tewari saw me before I was discharged, of course, but then he called me on a Saturday night to see how I was doing. I won’t forget that.” And Leslie Schlachter, Dr. Tewari’s senior physician assistant “had all the answers for me.” But Jeffrey also had a solid support network. “I am not the type of guy to be private about my health. I told everyone in my circle of friends and family. And their input and understanding was invaluable”, including the feedback from his wife , with whom he hashed out the pros and cons of active surveillance and surgery.

At only one month post surgery, Jeffrey is feeling great and wants to keep talking. He advised Dr Tewari and staff of his desire to be a mentor to any man who might benefit from his insights on coping with a prostate cancer diagnosis and the journey. “I can’t dispense medical advice of course; any patient of Dr. Tewari is in superb hands. But I can help ease the stress of the unknown, the details, like what happens when the catheter is removed. I was terrified of what I assumed would be horribly painful, but my support group helped me stay real. I am eager to do that for someone else."