Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 | 9 a.m.
Even as a nurse for Veterans Affairs, where most of his patients are men, Anthony Pizzoferrato had to dig for information on prostate cancer when he was diagnosed with the disease two years ago, Googling and studying.
“I wanted to learn everything from people,” he said.
Now armed with the information to navigate what he knows is a scary, frustrating and painful time, the Las Vegas resident facilitates a support group through the international prostate cancer educational network Us TOO. He wants to share what he’s learned with other men to guide and empower them on a journey that affects their entire lives.
As a gay man, Pizzoferrato also knows the value of a judgment-free space to discuss intimate personal health details. That’s why his Us TOO group is geared toward men of all sexualities and their partners, in Las Vegas and beyond.
“They feel they can be more out and open and free to talk about their lives,” he said.
Terri Likowski, program director for Us TOO’s support group services, said the groups give diagnosed men hope and let them know there are people who understand them.
“I would emphasize to them, they are not alone,” she said. “There are people, thousands of people, out there that are willing to talk.”
September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is a time for advocates like Pizzoferrato, 64, to offer their support and hard-earned knowledge.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men aside from skin cancer; according to the Nevada Cancer Coalition, it’s the leading cancer among men in the state. About one in nine men nationwide will be diagnosed in their lifetimes.
The prostate, a gland below the urinary bladder that surrounds the urethra, is a key male reproductive organ. It secretes fluid that becomes part of semen and can also be an erogenous zone. Although about 33,000 men will die of prostate cancer this year, most patients will survive, the organization says. About 3.1 million men in the United States who have previously been diagnosed are alive today.
Pizzoferrato recently completed radiation, following up on an earlier surgery, and is back at work doing telehealth appointments from home. When he returns to work at the clinic, he will be in full protective gear.
His career in nursing, which he embarked on about 15 years ago, follows previous experience in alternative healing. Restoring people to health is a longtime vocation and calling.
With his support group, he says, he has purpose for himself, and others.
Us TOO’s annual fundraising SEA Blue run/walk, slated for Sept. 13, has also gone virtual this year as a livestreaming event. To participate, visit www.seablueprostatewalk.org.