Vet Outreach Center exec. director Todd Baxter reveals he has prostate cancer
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Todd Baxter has spent much of his life in the public eye.
That extends from his military service to his time as a Rochester Police Captain, then Police Chief in the town of Greece, to his current job as Executive Director of Veterans Outreach.
Baxter said he decided to share his personal struggle with the public so he could help educate people about early detection.
He said he was in denial when a PSA ( Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test revealed high levels which can indicate prostate cancer.
A biopsy confirmed his diagnosis and his fears. He said the hardest thing was telling his two sons he had cancer.
Baxter is convinced that PSA blood test saved his life, detecting his cancer early so it is treatable.
His doctor, Dr. Jean Joseph, said early screening has cut death rates from prostate cancer, in half. He praised Baxter's decision to make this diagnosis public to help others.
Dr. Joseph said it always helps people feel less along when they know someone else has "walked in their shoes."
He recommends screening for anyone with a family history of this cancer at age 45 and says anyone else should be tested at age 50. He has diagnosed men as young as 39 with prostate cancer, but said most are in their late 50s or early 60s.
Baxter said he learned that he did nothing to cause this cancer. In fact, most men do not have risk factors.
He said he isn't going to let this stop him from leading a normal life. He will run a marathon this weekend.
Baxter said he will have surgery to remove the cancerous prostate in November. Doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center will use the DaVinci Robot to perform surgery on this delicate gland.
There are other treatments available to patients, including radiation or ultrasound to kill the cancer but leave the prostate intact.
Dr, Joseph said it's an individual decision people can make.
Baxter said to him, surgery was the best option.
He said he expects to lead a normal life once he recovers from the surgery.