Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm
When Bronson Haase went in for his annual physical examination early this year, he did not expect his doctor to find anything wrong. Haase, then 61, was receiving his 23rd consecutive annual physical. He felt completely healthy. Even so, the president of Pabst Farms Equity Ventures LLC, the massive residential and commercial real estate development in Oconomowoc, Haase believed his annual physicals were important.
“You’re basically a very healthy person,” Haase’s doctor told him.
“I didn’t anticipate anything else,” Haase recalled. “I had no symptoms. I’ve been healthy my whole life. I’ve never had any surgeries.”
However, the doctor said he noticed that the results of Haase’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test had spiked up compared with his exam in the previous year.
“I think it’s just something you ought to check out,” the doctor told Haase.
Haase followed up on his doctor’s referral by visiting a urologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa about one month later.
Two PSA tests later, the urologist became suspicious and suggested he do a biopsy on Haase, which confirmed their fears.
“I have got bad news for you. You have prostate cancer,” the urologist said.
Haase was hopeful that, because of his annual physicals, the cancer had been caught early and would be treated fairly easily.
“I’m thinking, if I’ve got it, we’ll do what we need to do to get it taken care of,” Haase said.
However, the urologist had more bad news. Haase had cancer on the right side of his prostate and an aggressive cancer on the left side of his prostate.
“I said, ‘You’re kidding,’” Haase said.
The urologist told Haase that he had only one option: he had to have his prostate removed and soon.
The urologist also mentioned that the Medical College was working on some new treatments for prostate cancer, but they would not be available for a few months. Haase said he was willing to wait to try those procedures.
“I’m not being clear,” the urologist responded. “You don’t have that kind of time.”
“When the doctor says, ‘You don’t have that kind of time,’ all of a sudden you sit up straighter and listen a little more intently,” Haase said. “You think about all kinds of things. None of them are real positive.”
The Medical College urologist told Haase to get a second opinion.
“The Medical College did a fabulous job of analyzing and educating me, and giving me advice,” Haase said.
He got a second and a third opinion, both of which affirmed the original diagnosis.
As he prepared for surgery, Haase said, he received advice from dozens of men who heard about his condition and who had prostate cancer themselves.
“I probably talked to 50 or 60 men who called me and who were giving me advice, some whom I never knew who said they heard I had this condition,” he said.
In early August, Haase went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for the surgery. After doing some research, he found a doctor there who had performed 4,300 prostate surgeries.
The day he went in for surgery, Haase still had no symptoms. He felt fine. Just a few weeks before, he was playing golf in the Pabst Farms annual golf outing.
Although he felt fine, Haase was nervous about the four-and-a-half-hour surgery.
“At this point you don’t know if the cancer is just in the prostate itself, or if it has gone into other parts of your body,” he said. “They said they didn’t think it had (spread), but they don’t know until the surgery.”
The day after the surgery, Haase was in his room at the Mayo Clinic with his wife and his three adult children. The surgeon came in and told Haase that the cancer was encapsulated in the prostate, and that the removal of his prostate had eliminated all of the cancer.
“It’s over,” the surgeon told Haase. “Wasn’t yesterday a glorious day in the worldω”
After a brief recovery period, Haase said he is back to normal.
“Since (the surgery) everything is fine,” he said. “All of my bodily functions are fine.”
Of course, he never felt sick to begin with.
“I felt fine before I went in, and I felt fine when I got out,” he said.
Since his surgery Haase has technically been on leave from Pabst Farms Equity Ventures, although he has still been working with several customers on a daily basis.
Soon, Haase said plans to meet with Pabst Farms executives to discuss his future there. He said his experience with prostate cancer has made him re-evaluate things.
“This is a gut check in terms of priorities of one’s life and values,” he said.
Haase said his experience demonstrates why it is so important for people to get an annual physical exam. Some doctors say men over the age of 40 should get annual PSA tests.
“The annual physical is a must,” Haase said. “If I had gone a year or two (without a physical), I don’t think I would have had the same outcome that I’m so thankful for.”