Don’t Wait: Patient Highlights the Importance of Following Screening Recommendations

Al Markey patient story. JPG

Like many men, Alan “Al” Markey, a 75-year-old, retired Fort Dodge resident, ignored signs and symptoms of prostate issues until his primary care physician, Aaron Peimann, MD, urged him to do a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test in November 2019. When Markey’s PSA results were 20.9 nanograms, he was referred to Jordan Reeder, ARNP, at UnityPoint Clinic Urology in Fort Dodge.

Markey learned that PSA test results over 4.0 nanograms call for additional testing, like a prostate biopsy. After multiple tests, biopsies, and a prostatectomy, Markey received news he had been dreading – the biopsy results showed a Gleason 9, meaning he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

“Jordan saved my life,” said Markey. “I didn’t want to get the biopsy – I thought it would be painful and I was in denial, but she talked me into it. She said, ‘Al, you have to do this. Think of your grandkids – you have everything to live for.’”

Further testing identified the cancer had metastasized to his hip bone. Markey explored his options and got second opinions when it came to cancer care, but ultimately decided to receive care at the Norma Schmoker Cancer Center in Fort Dodge. Sarah Tofilon, MD, and John Hardie, MD, PHD, both McFarland Clinic providers who see patients at the Norma Schmoker Cancer Center, treated Markey with chemotherapy and radiation.

“Why go out of town for treatment?” asked Markey. “In my opinion, the Norma Schmoker Cancer Center will give me the longest life span I could possibly have. They are doing the same thing other hospitals would do and I don’t have to drive out of town. You get family-type treatment in a smaller institution. That’s worth everything to me. You feel like you are part of their family, and they want to save my life. You can get personal at this level – I’m so grateful.”

After years of treatment, Markey’s PSA test results now come back to “undetectable” levels with the help of chemotherapy medications, which he will continue to take the rest of his life to suppress the cancer cells. Fortunately, he feels healthy and is able to live an enjoyable life with his wife, Sandy, seven children, 21 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren (with two more on the way).

“I don’t feel like I’m just a number at the urology clinic and cancer center,” said Markey. “They treat you like a person and take the time to answer all my questions. I can’t say enough good things about everyone on my care team. Kelsey Washington, RN, Urology, always went above and beyond for me. Anytime I called with a question or needed an emergency appointment, she would always help me. Jordan, Dr. Mark Newton, who did my prostatectomy, Dr. Tofilon and Dr. Hardie were absolutely amazing.”

Markey urges people to follow the recommendations of their physician, take care of their health, and schedule an appointment if they notice something is off, because the longer the wait, the harder diseases, like cancer, are to treat.

Call UnityPoint Clinic Urology – Fort Dodge at 515-574-8490 to learn more about the services offered.