Kort Nygard: Surveillance, Then Surgery

June 22, 2011 | Leigh MacMillan

Kort Nygard, Ph.D., 69, a clinical psychologist, considers himself a “skilled practitioner in the art of denial.” He was happy to defer treatment when his first biopsy showed he had prostate cancer. On a second biopsy though, his cancer had spread. His physician, David Penson, M.D., said it was time to treat and laid out the four options he would recommend: two types
of surgery, two types of radiation.

Kort Nygard, Ph.D.

“That was a bit of a dilemma,” Nygard says. “It was kind of like being asked: do you want to stay in the burning building, or do you want to jump out of the third-floor window?

“I don’t want either of those; I want the option where you walk down the stairs and go out the front door.

“Sorry, that isn’t an option.”

After getting second, third and fourth opinions, and working through his own form of decision tree, Nygard selected open surgery.

Though it was the most invasive treatment option, he wanted to be as sure as he could that the cancer was gone.

His advice for men diagnosed with prostate cancer: “Get more than one opinion. Don’t accept the role of ‘patient’ – take control, ask questions, be feisty and demanding.”

Photo by John Russell

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