October 1, 2014

From The Editor: Compasion

David Sendler (Stefan Andreev)We’re delighted to present our 227 top doctors of Southwest Florida and we enthuse over the latest treatments and cutting-edge technologies they deploy on our behalf. But I’d like to add some consideration here for another major piece of what physicians can do for us. And that’s good old-fashioned compassion, which may defy measuring, but surely helps speed a patient’s recovery. In this regard, let me introduce Dr. William Figlesthaler.

Dr. Figlesthaler, of Specialists in Urology (in Naples, Fort Myers and Cape Coral), has been especially hailed for his da Vinci robotic surgery in treating prostate cancer. Such is his reputation that he has drawn patients from more than 30 states and 12 countries.

From his office in Naples recently, he talked about his personal approach to patients. "I know hearing the word ‘cancer’ is scary," he says. "I believe in spending a great deal of time educating my patients on all the options available to them. We’ll talk for an hour, whatever it takes.

"I had one man come in with a notebook filled with research he’d done on his problem. I listened to what he’s afraid of and went through all the articles and books he’d consulted. He took notes and came back the following week with a smaller set of notes. We discussed everything he had written down. I wanted him to have a complete understanding of his situation and choices. He could see that we cared about all his concerns. He went for the robotic surgery, was in and out in a day and has had no further traces of cancer since.

"Another gentleman with a huge kidney tumor came to see me after a physician in town recommended a very invasive procedure. He was really frightened. I told him I could use the laparoscopic approach (with a little hole) to treat the tumor—which is a lot less invasive. We went ahead with it, and he’s fine now. I really believe that my confidence helps patients go forward. Compassion is a huge part of it. They’ll recover better if they know you’re fighting for them."

You can’t argue that if you listen to a couple of Dr. Figlesthaler’s patients. Dave Johnson of Naples says he was in his late 40s and at the top of his career in the county sheriff’s office when he was told he had prostate cancer and had to do something right away. "I thought I was going to die," he says, "but Bill told me, ‘It’s bad, but we can fix it.’ He was very honest with me, always had time for me and truly, truly cared. I knew I could beat the cancer and we went for the da Vinci robotic surgery. I feel like a million dollars today."

Bill Shenko, a Fort Myers Beach attorney, came to Dr. Figlesthaler for a second opinion after another doctor had recommended open surgery. "Dr. Figlesthaler made me feel my problem was all he had to deal with. He introduced me to each member of his team. Right after my successful robotic surgery, I phoned with a question at 3 in the morning and got a call back within five minutes. I know Dr. Figlesthaler and his practice sponsor UsToo, a support group for prostate cancer survivors and they make sure there’s a doctor present at every meeting. It’s not just a medical practice they have; it’s compassion being served up, too." The caring seems to work, as Dave Johnson and Bill Shenko would be the first to tell you.

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