A Coach Triumphs After Robotic-Assisted Prostate Surgery

Harry Welch's friend, Mark Eskander, urged him to be screened for prostate cancer as well. In his insistence, on the spot, Mark called and made an appointment for Harry with his physician and surgeon, Jeffrey Yoshida, M.D., Urologist and Program Director for Hoag Urologic Oncology.

To comply with his friends’ persistent wishes, Harry met with Dr. Yoshida who recommended a PSA test and digital rectal exam (DRE). Harry’s PSA level was well within normal limits, but his DRE was slightly irregular. Because of this, Dr. Yoshida urged Harry to have a prostate biopsy, which was performed and ultimately revealed cancer.

To say the least, Harry was surprised to find that he had prostate cancer. This diagnosis began with a friend’s out-of-the-blue request to be tested, and not because he was having any symptoms or concerns about his prostate health. Yet, prostate cancer is often asymptomatic, and not detected unless screened for.

Dr. Yoshida counseled Harry on different treatment options, which included robotic-assisted surgery and various forms of radiation therapy. Yet, at this point, Harry decided to do some research. He spent a lot of time researching all the surrounding hospitals, their programs and their treatment options.

"However, at the end of the day, I felt so confident in Dr. Yoshida and his team, and the advanced precision and capabilities of the robot, that Hoag and robotic-assisted surgery was easily my choice,” shares Harry.

Your continual support and resource

After choosing to have his care at Hoag, Harry and his wife Cindee were greeted by Urologic Nurse Navigator Nancy Raymon, M.N., CNS, AOCN.

"Nancy Raymon is second to none,” shares Harry. “She would listen to all of Cindee’s and my questions and concerns, followed up on all of my appointments, and was always available to us. Her care was above and beyond what any professional should give.”

As urologic nurse navigator, Nancy provides guidance, support, education and coordination of care for Hoag prostate cancer patients throughout their treatment experience. She leads a pre-surgery class for men and their support persons, as well as the Man-to-Man Prostate Cancer Education and Support Group, a class endorsed by the American Cancer Society. Nancy is there to assist patients through phone, email, or in person communication.

A dedicated coach

Harry has been the head football coach at Santa Margarita Catholic High School since January 2010, and in just one year of coaching at SMCHS, received top honors as “Coach of the Year” from both The Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times. His dedication to the sport and the young men he coaches is undeniable. So when Dr. Yoshida asked when they could schedule the surgery – it got complicated. Off-season was too far away, and Harry did not want to miss a game. After much discussion, they found a suitable option – a bye week for his team.

"I did not want this cancer diagnosis to get in the way of my life or my team. But, I knew that this was too important to put off until the end of the season,” says Harry.

Harry had robotic-assisted surgery on the morning of October 4, and went home the next day. Each day he was up walking more and more, and was even able to attend a coaches’ meeting on October 6 to prepare for the upcoming game against Orange Lutheran High School. On October 15, with Dr. Yoshida, Hoag Hospital anesthesiologist and friend, Dr. Steven Todd Newman, as well as all of Santa Margarita High School in the stands as his support, Harry returned to the football field. That night he coached his team to a momentous and emotional victory, beating Orange Lutheran 27-15.

"I have felt so supported by Dr. Yoshida, Nancy and the entire Hoag team,” continues Harry. “My whole family now receives our care at Hoag, and we continually refer our friends and family to this great hospital. We are happy to make the extra drive from Rancho Santa Margarita to receive Hoag’s unparalleled and outstanding care.”

To learn more about Hoag's Prostate Cancer Program and its expert medical team, click here​.