The first time Ken Rakusin ever came across the name, Inderbir Gill, it was in one of the alumni magazines that he gets from USC. His PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level was elevated at the time and the story on Keck Medicine of USC’s top urologist caught his eye.
The second time he heard the name was when he was sitting in his internist’s office as he was delivering the news that his PSA shot into the danger zone.
“I was prepared to go anywhere in the world to get the best treatment because I did not want to take a chance,” says Rakusin. “My doctor said the best in the world was right here. He was talking about Dr. Gill over at USC.”
Rakusin had a biopsy, using the targeted technique developed by the team at the USC Institute of Urology, which showed that he had an aggressive, high-risk prostate cancer. When it came to choosing a surgeon, he said he wasn’t only persuaded by Gill’s reputation, but the care that he showed in their initial meetings.
“He treated me like I was the only patient he had,” says Rakusin. “He explained the severity and made sure we knew where I was. He talked us through all the possible treatment options and explained why removing the prostate was my best option.”
Like most men, Rakusin was deeply concerned about incontinence and impotence, both of which are potential side effects of prostate cancer surgery. And, although he had planned to get a second opinion, and possibly more, Rakusin was so reassured after meeting with Gill, he shelved those plans.
On July 9, Rakusin and his wife arrived at Keck Hospital of USC at 5 o’clock in the morning for his surgery. Gill had explained to Rakusin, in an earlier meeting, that because of the location of the cancer, he expected to save 50 percent of the nerve bundles on one side of the prostate and 80 percent on the other.
By 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Rakusin was out of surgery and Gill gave him good news: He had saved 80 percent of the nerves on both sides of the prostate, removed 36 lymph nodes and there was no remaining sign of cancer.
A little groggy, Rakusin was on his feet later that day, taking laps around the nurses’ station. By 3 p.m. the next day, Rakusin was recovering at home and starting to take walks around the block.
Three days after surgery, Rakusin was walking nearly five miles and he was back to work in a week. Rakusin has also been spared all the unwanted side effects of surgery.
“I have never had a medical procedure where I was ecstatic about how it went from beginning to end,” says Rakusin. “I believe I recovered so well because of his skill and expertise and I feel like I am going to be the beneficiary of that for the rest of my life.”
By Hope Hamashige