Michael Friedberg, 77, lives a vivacious life full of vibrant hobbies, from ballroom dancing and long biking sessions around the Jersey Shore to sailing the blue waters of the Caribbean. Even with much of his free time spent pursuing his passions, he always schedules a yearly physical with his primary care physician to keep his health a priority.
“I think a yearly check-up is one of the most important things you can do,” says Michael, a Holmdel resident.
Last February, when the results of his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test—a blood test that screens for a protein produced by tissue in the prostate—came back nine times higher than normal, he was referred to a urologist, who confirmed that Michael had stage 1 prostate cancer. Michael then connected with Edward Soffen, MD, a board-certified radiation oncologist at CentraState, for his next move.
Personalized and Precise Treatment
Because of the high number of COVID-19 cases last spring, Michael and Dr. Soffen had their initial conversation virtually, where they quickly developed a plan—a combination of hormone and radiation therapies. The hormone therapy, which Michael started last April, prevented the cancer from growing and boosted the effectiveness of the radiation therapy that he then began in August. Michael had 44 radiation treatments over nine weeks.
“Michael was a great candidate for radiation therapy,” says Dr. Soffen. “With a team approach, he did well with treatments.”
Precision is important when it comes to risk and side effects of radiation treatment, adds Dr. Soffen. CentraState uses state-of-the-art technology that delivers radiation directly to the cancer site while limiting exposure to healthy organs and tissues. Each day, Michael had a daily 3D scan of his prostate to help guide the radiation treatment. Gold markers implanted in his prostate served as a GPS when the radiation beam was on.
Michael also received an injectable hydrogel called SpaceOARTM to help protect the surrounding organs from radiation. SpaceOAR creates a space between the prostate and those organs, resulting in less pain and fewer side effects. CentraState was the first hospital in the state, and one of the first in the country, to use SpaceOAR.
“In addition to offering sophisticated technology, we also pride ourselves on delivering individualized, hands-on care,” says Dr. Soffen. “Personal interaction can make all the difference.”
Michael had some side effects from treatment, including skin tenderness and fatigue. He enjoyed exercising and dancing when he felt energized, but he always made sure to listen to his body.
“Clearing the living room furniture for rumbas was great, but some days I needed to take a nap,” adds Michael with a laugh.
Quickstep to a Healthier Future
Three months after treatment, Michael’s PSA tests showed a normal range and his levels of testosterone, suppressed by the hormone treatment, are starting to return.
Thankful for his radiation oncology team, he is now adjusting to the rhythm of his daily routine as a cancer survivor—and he’s back in the swing of his love for ballroom dance with his dance partner and best friend, Diane Meixner. Both are widowed. They met at a church dance social eight years ago—where Diane, an experienced dancer, took Michael under her wing—and they have been dancing together ever since.
“Stay active, take care of your body, and see your doctor regularly,” says Michael. “Early detection saved my life—and I expect to have many more years living it to the fullest.”