Trevor Mackay, prostate cancer patient

December 01, 2012
Trevor Mackay prostate cancer patient

At 49 years old, Trevor Mackay was the picture of health—participating in Pilates, jogging several times a week and training for a triathlon. So when the results of his annual PSA test revealed a slight increase over his previous test, he wasn’t the least bit concerned. But his doctor referred him to a urologist for further testing.

"I was certain I was fine and that this appointment was just procedural," says Trevor. But two weeks after his visit with the urologist, Trevor received the shocking news that he had prostate cancer.

"I chose to have robotic-assisted surgery over radiation or traditional surgery," says Trevor. "My case was fairly advanced and I was confident that the robotic procedure would get rid of the cancer." He also heard that the surgery would spare the nerves responsible for urological and sexual function. However, Trevor knew that this was dependent on the skill of the surgeon performing the procedure.

Trevor interviewed four prostate surgeons—three from highly regarded academic institutions. "It’s difficult to interview doctors because you don’t know how to evaluate what they’re saying," says Trevor.

Nevertheless, Trevor did his research and tried to learn everything he could about the various treatment options for prostate cancer. "You have this cancer growing inside of you, but if you get it out while it’s contained, you can live a relatively normal life," he says.

His return ticket to normalcy was the robotic-assisted prostatectomy performed by UC Irvine Health prostate surgeon Dr. Thomas Ahlering. Even after interviewing three other physicians, Trevor felt most comfortable putting his life in Dr. Ahlering’s highly skilled hands.

"He demonstrated the strongest knowledge base coupled with the most experience. I was his 950th robotic-assisted prostatectomy. That’s an impressive track record," says Trevor.

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What also appealed to Trevor was a unique cooling technique that Dr. Ahlering developed to improve the quality of life among prostate cancer patients. Even when a surgeon performs ideally and avoids injury to the sexual nerves and the sphincters responsible for urinary control, most men take weeks to months to recover. Dr. Ahlering’s research shows that cooling of the pelvic region to 60 – 68 degrees during robotic prostatectomy (like icing a sprained ankle) reduces surgically related trauma and inflammation, leading to faster and better overall urinary continence and sexual outcomes.

"After the procedure, I experienced no pain," says Trevor. "I felt like I simply over-exercised—not like I had undergone major surgery." Trevor regained continence after just three days following the removal of his catheter. He attributes his remarkable recovery to Dr. Ahlering’s cooling technique, and practicing Pilates for three years prior to surgery.

"The quality of the surgeon makes a tremendous difference in the outcome," says Trevor. "A lot of my father’s friends who had traditional surgery were laid up for six to eight weeks. I walked three miles just three days after surgery. Now, I’m four weeks out and I have no problem jogging on the beach, bicycling and I’m about to start swimming for triathlon training."

Learn more about the Center for Urological Care ›

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