When cancer strikes "below the belt"
When cancer strikes “below the belt,” the results can be devastating
to a couple. In addition to standard fears that accompany a diagnosis
of the “Big C,” reproductive cancers carry the potential for
sexual dysfunction and loss of intimacy.
The Pinterpes of Huntington Beach faced those fears. Twice.
Sam Pinterpe, 69, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011; his wife
of 31 years, Karen, received a diagnosis of endometrial cancer in 2012.
When reproductive cancers hit both husband and wife, the Pinterpes say,
couples need good communication, good humor and great doctors to make
The Pinterpes’ story started in 2010, when Sam was told his PSA levels
were “creeping up.” The news wasn’t horrible, so his
doctor recommended a “wait and see” approach. But Sam isn’t
one to twiddle his thumbs.
A self-described “half-glass full” kind of guy, Sam immediately
began researching his options. He learned he was likely going to need
a prostatectomy, and the nerve-sparing nature of robotic surgery appealed
to him. He also learned from scouring medical information that better
outcomes are related to a surgeon’s level of experience.
From Sam’s research, all signs pointed to Dr. Jeffrey Yoshida. The
Program Director of Urologic Oncology at Hoag Family Cancer Institute,
Dr. Yoshida has performed more than 1,700 nerve-sparing robotic-assisted
Almost exactly a year after Sam’s surgery, Karen, 64, was diagnosed
with endometrial cancer. Again, the couple faced the fears of cancer.
And again, they put their faith in doctors in whom they felt they could
After much research on Karen’s end as well, she selected high-volume
gynecologic oncologist and surgeon Lisa Abaid, M.D. Dr. Abaid performed
a robotic-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy in April 2012 that removed
all evidence of cancer and left Karen none the worse-for-wear.
“I walked three miles the next day,” Karen says.
“It is important to have a lot of knowledge about the surgery, and
nobody should do it alone,” Karen says. “You need another
pair of ears to hear what the doctor is saying.”
And, Sam adds, “Get the best care you can.”