Executive Vice President of Prostate Cancer International Jan Manarite spoke to the Sanibel Captiva Lions Club on the importance of shared medical decisions during the club’s September dinner meeting.
“Be a part of decisions with your doctor and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” said Manarite, who has made a career out of listening. For more than 15 years, she has been a calm voice to caregivers and patients trying to make sense of a prostate cancer diagnosis.
It was her experience over 13 years of searching for treatments for her late husband, Dominic, that gave rise to a calling as a patient advocate. In 2001, she started working for Prostate Cancer Research Institute and today continues to spend time talking to patients and caregivers in her role at the small non-profit PCI.
“The first step in understanding more about your diagnosis is getting your medical records,” said Manarite. “They provide the foundation for your decisions and the more you know, the more empowered you become. And that leads to shared decision making with your doctor.”
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. While it usually grows slowly and may not cause serious harm in the prostate gland, some types are aggressive and can spread quickly. The causes of prostate cancer are unclear, but doctors know that it begins when some cells in the prostate become abnormal.
“You can always request a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test, but know that it is used as a measurement for risk not for diagnosing,” said Manarite.
In addition to providing comfort and advise, Manarite organizes patient conferences, which are free of charge like the one March 2 at Florida Gulf Coast University.
The Sanibel Captiva Lions meet the third Wednesday of the month with a different guest speaker at the Sanibel Community House. Meetings begin with cocktails and appetizers are 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Visiting Lions and anyone interested in becoming a Lion are always welcome.