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Dave Thomas' Incredible Story

Edward M. Schaeffer, MD, PhD Urologic Oncology

Christopher M. George, MD Hematology and Medical Oncology

Saadia S. Sherwani, MD Anesthesiology

Nelson E. Bennett Jr, MD Andrology and Infertility

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A highly experienced physician

When Dave’s cancer spread throughout his pelvic region, a bulky tumor pressed into his bladder and rectum. It overtook lymph nodes and ultimately posed a threat to nearby blood vessels, nerves and organs. Even the slightest surgical mistake could permanently threaten Dave’s urinary, bowel and/or leg function — or worse, his life. As a result, removing the tumor would require a robotic prostatectomy performed with the da Vinci® Surgical System, a multi-component robot that allows surgeons to make precise and steady incisions.

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Incredible technology and precision

Joining Dr. Schaeffer and the surgical team for Dave’s surgery was Anesthesiologist Saadia S. Sherwani, MD. It was go time.

The tumor originated in the prostate but had progressed and spread, pushing into the rectum and bladder. Because the normal boundaries were blurred by the tumor, successful removal was technically very challenging and relied heavily on surgical skill and experience.
–Edward M. Schaeffer, MD, PhD

The da Vinci® robot’s arms and specialized endowrist instrumentation combine so the device can move like a tiny human wrist. This system allows a surgeon to maneuver in small, hard-to-reach places. Although highly advanced, this technology is heavily dependent on the skill and experience of the surgeon. Over the course of two and a half hours, Dr. Schaeffer skillfully manipulated the da Vinci® instruments via a console that displayed a three-dimensional image of Dave’s inner body. Using both foot and hand controls, Dr. Schaeffer successfully removed the tumor without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.

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The Final Lap

As originally planned by Dave’s Oncology team, the next step after surgery was to fully clear the pelvis of cancer with radiation treatment. Fortunately, Dr. George and Dave’s Radiation Oncology team were located close to his home in Chicago’s west suburbs, which meant he didn’t have to travel into the city for treatment. After receiving 30 rounds of radiation treatment and consistent hormone therapy at Delnor Cancer Center, Dave finally heard the words that his initial prognosis suggested would never be possible: “You’re cancer-free.”

Dave didn’t let cancer slow him down. We built the treatment plan around Dave’s busy and very active lifestyle.
–Christopher M. George, MD
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Post-Op Prosperity

After a surgery like Dave’s, Dr. Schaeffer typically refers his patients to Men’s Health Specialist Nelson E. Bennett Jr., MD, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to help with restoration of vitality. Dr. Bennett focuses on the physical, medical and hormonal conditions that impact sexual health following a urologic cancer diagnosis.

You can’t deliver excellent care by yourself; you really can’t. You need to be surrounded by really great people — dedicated people —and we have that here at Northwestern Medicine. 
–Christopher M. George, MD
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