Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Most men don't want to talk about a prostate exam, but Anthony San Filippo said, "this routine exam saved my life."

Anthony is no stranger to medical tests, overcoming a long list of medical issues.

"These last 17 years have been interesting," he laughs.

Anthony has had a heart attack, two back surgeries and two bouts with cancer.

It was just last year, when Anthony and his family still lived in Franklin County, that he faced cancer for the second time. He was at WellSpan Family Medicine in Mont Alto for a routine appointment with his family provider, Dr. Teresa Joy.

"By the grace of God, she asked, 'When was the last time you got your prostate examined?'"

Anthony, being a little young for prostate cancer, didn't think until this point he needed one, and agreed to the exam. The test results confirmed he was about to go through cancer treatment – again.

"It hit me harder the second time because I knew what could come," explained Anthony.

Anthony's first cancer was Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma; he was diagnosed in 2002. In a nationwide search for a doctor to treat his cancer, he finally sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Following a revolutionary bone marrow transplant in 2012, he says the chance of him dying from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at this point is now very low.

For his second fight, he was referred to Dr. Ashish Behari at WellSpan Urology. Anthony, who did his research on Dr. Behari and read about his career all over the Internet, says, "The guy was a rising rock star!"

While he had previous treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital and a great respect for his doctors there, Dr. Behari gave a lasting first impression.

"He had a depth of compassion that was phenomenal and touching. He was so sorry I had cancer again. We felt that compassion would guide his intellect and his excellence and give the best solution humanly possible."

After talking about his options, Anthony decided to have robotic surgery to remove the cancer.

"With Dr. Behari, after we had a clear treatment path, I was at peace emotionally and everything came out fine," he says.

Anthony is now a pastor, enjoying time with his wife and two grown children — when he can.

"My plans for the future are to keep trying to welcome the gifts that God's given me and use them to serve God."

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some men have no symptoms, others can experience:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Difficulty emptying bladder completely
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Pain in the back, hips or pelvis
  • Painful ejaculation

Men have a higher risk of prostate cancer as they get older, or if a close family member also had the cancer. The most common test for prostate cancer is a digital rectal exam.

"The only thing I can offer is my own example," says Anthony. "A tiny bit of discomfort during the exam is a small price to pay to see your kids or grandkids grow up — or to do your bucket list, whatever may be on it."

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