"All day long, people come in and out, and I really like to encourage them."
That's 62-year-old Robby Brookins explaining his work. Robby is a tailor who owns his own shop in Finneytown. While most would think his profession is only about clothing, he knows it's about much more than that.
"The best part of my day is that I get to inspire my clients to meet the challenges of life," Robby says.
So, when Robby was diagnosed with an aggressive form of high-risk prostate cancer in October 2019, he quickly began treatment thinking his medical team would approach their job in a similar way. Unfortunately, he discovered that wasn't going to be the case.
An unmet need to understand
Robby is easygoing. He likes to smile and make others smile. And he likes to talk. When he began treatment for his prostate cancer, he expected his care team to be the same way — to be comforting and want to talk to him and answer his questions.
"The thing is, I always need to understand, so I ask a lot of questions," he says. "But I never understood what they were doing or why, and I felt the doctor's frustration when I kept asking."
After more than a year of treatment, his questions still weren't being answered, and Robby began to push back against his doctor's recommendations.
His care team called it noncompliance. But Suzanne, Robby's wife, says his refusal to continue treatment was due to a lack of understanding.
"I felt that for a long time I wasn't taken care of the way I deserved," Robby explains. "That's when I got busy looking for somewhere else to go."
A helpful nurse navigator
Even though he was uneasy about it, Robby knew he had to continue treatment. He started searching for a team of doctors that would be more caring and could answer his questions.
In May 2021, he picked up the phone and called The Christ Hospital's Prostate Second Opinion Clinic. Nurse navigator Amber Michael answered.
"I just kept asking questions, and that Amber, she answered every one of them," Robby recounts. "My only day off is Wednesday, and she said the docs only see patients on Mondays. I didn't want to go, but Amber told me it was important,
and she told me why. So, I did what she said."
Amber's experience guiding patients through prostate cancer treatment helped her to know exactly what Robby needed to hear. And her willingness to listen and respond to Robby's questions was precisely what he had been looking for.
"Amber was my angel. She got me all set up," he says.
Ready to move forward
Thanks to Amber's guidance and encouragement, Robby felt comfortable scheduling an appointment with the Prostate Cancer Second Opinion Clinic where he met with three prostate cancer specialists at The Christ Hospital: Christopher Freese, MD, radiation oncologist; Justin Cox, MD, medical director of urology services; and Brian Mannion, MD, executive medical director of oncology services.
Remembering that meeting, Robby says he felt listened to and respected. Suzanne says, right then and there, she saw Robby relax. "I could tell he felt so hopeful."
"In Robby's case, we had an open discussion regarding various treatments and helped Robby choose the option in which he felt most comfortable," explains Dr. Freese.
This is one of the big benefits of going to the Prostate Second Opinion Clinic; you get to meet with multiple specialists, discuss your options, and choose the best treatment plan — all in one meeting.
Prognosis looks good
Robby's treatment at The Christ Hospital has gone well. According to Dr. Freese, Robby is a rock star. "He's doing well, he's remaining active, and he's done a wonderful job through this whole experience."
Though Robby has some blood tests coming up, the doctors say his prognosis looks good.
"I'm grateful. I'm so grateful," Robby says.
If there's anything he wants men to know about his experience, it's this: Take care of yourself and talk to your doctor. He says he's surprised by the number of men who have questions and concerns about prostate cancer but don't want to talk about it.
"Nobody wants to talk about it. But men, listen to me. We need to do it. We need to talk about it," Robby implores.
Talk to your doctor about prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the U.S. Many patients often have no symptoms, which means not talking about it can be dangerous.
Doctors recommend that most men begin prostate cancer discussions with their doctor at age 50. But if you're African American or have a family history of prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends age 45. If you have more than one close relative who has had prostate cancer, talk to your doctor at age 40.
If you'd like to schedule an evaluation with the Prostate Second Opinion Clinic, call our prostate cancer nurse navigator, Amber Michael, at 513-585-3138 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.