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Pilot Tells Others: “Be a Man”

One man tells his story of why it's important for men to go to the doctor for routine check-ups.

Man standing in front of an airplane in a medical gownYour Local Health | Written by BJ Towe

If you're a guy stuck in an elevator next to Michael Boring of Norwalk, you're apt to get an earful – especially if it's been awhile since you've seen a doctor. After a routine physical exam led to a prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment, and cure, commercial airline pilot Michael Boring puts modesty aside to urge others to “Be a Man. Go to the Doctor.”

Michael Boring, 61, isn't shy about telling other men they should get regular checkups. That's because he knows first-hand the importance of routine physicals: It was during one such exam five years ago that his Family Medicine physician ordered a PSA test, which measures the amount of the PSA protein produced by the prostate gland. This simple test led to Boring being diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

As a pilot with a major airline, Boring is required by law to have a physical with an FAA-certified doctor every six months. He says, “I've done that religiously for 20 years, but those screenings don't catch everything.” So Boring complemented those exams with more comprehensive annual physicals with his Family Medicine physician.

Even so, Boring didn't say anything about the symptoms he was experiencing. “I was getting up four or five times a night to go to the bathroom. I wasn't as in control of my bladder as I used to be. My urine stream was smaller. There were eight or more indicators that problems were there, but I never said anything. I just thought I was getting older,” he says.

But when test results showed that Boring had elevated PSA levels in his blood, his doctor referred him to Steven Rosenberg, M.D., a Urologist with The Iowa Clinic Men's Center.

“I couldn't pretend it wasn't happening anymore,” he says of the decision to no longer keep any of his symptoms or questions to himself. He wanted to know everything – not just for himself, but also for his wife. “I recognized that this (cancer) was something we were both fighting.”

Working closely with Dr. Rosenberg, Boring and his wife decided the best treatment option was a radical prostatectomy. His prostate gland was removed in November 2008.

“Most of the issues I was having are gone,” says Boring. “I'm sleeping through the night, not worrying about finding the bathroom, able to sit through a movie with my wife. When you take cancer out of the equation, those factors alone would have made the surgery worth it.”

With no evidence of cancer in his body five years post-surgery, Boring was recently declared cancer-free by his doctors and the FAA. “Most prostate cancer is not a death sentence unless you don't do anything about it,” Boring says.

“Too many men worry about building their retirement fund, tinkering in the garage, working in the garden, or having time to do whatever their passion is. But if you don't take care of your health, you're shortening the amount of time you have to do the things you love. For your wife, grandkids, and all the people who care about you, seeing your doctor is a very loving, unselfish thing to do,”

-Michael Boring, 61

For more information visit The Iowa Clinic Men's Center's page or call 515.875.9801.

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