Connected Care

Bob Reemts of Gig Harbor knows all the reasons men put off prostate exams. After he experienced aggressive prostate cancer at age 58, he started encouraging his friends and relatives to get screened and heard the familiar excuses. “Men don't like the idea of a rectal exam, and they̠re scared of the treatment, if they do have cancer,” he said. “They̠re worried about the effects of surgery.”

Bob can relate to those concerns. But when his partner Jenny asked him to get his prostate checked in 2015, he obliged, even though he wasn't experiencing any of the common symptoms of prostate cancer like frequent urination or lower back pain. “Women are often the ones who have to cajole their significant others into getting screened,” he said.

To his surprise, Bob̠s exam revealed highly aggressive prostate cancer – caught just in time. Had Bob waited much longer to get screened, his cancer may have spread to his bones, with a much worse outcome, he said. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health providers primary care physician John Smoots, MD, and urologist and surgeon Robert Johnston, MD, Ph.D. developed Bob̠s treatment plan together with oncologist Robert McCroskey, MD at NW Cancer Specialties.

Bob̠s prostate and surrounding tissues were removed in a robotic-assisted, minimally invasive prostatectomy surgery performed by Dr. Johnston at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. “My care team was excellent, and all three providers collaborated on my treatment plan. Rob and Dr. Johnston especially worked together when I had chemotherapy,” he said. “These connections are why I ended up with such a good outcome.”

Jenny and Bob married in 2016, the day before he began chemotherapy. Her support helped get him through from diagnosis to recovery, he said. Bob encourages men to face their fears and get screened, for themselves and their loved ones. “My family is what got me through this, my boys and my two step kids and Jenny in particular – she was my rock.”

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