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Since moving to Ojai 17 years ago, Nestor Geronimo, 47, has made a point of returning to Mexico every Christmas to spend time with his nine siblings. Their mother passed away of cervical cancer in 1977, and they lost their father to lung cancer in 1981. "My siblings and I were always close, but after our parents died we were even closer," he says. "We have a great time together, and we can talk about anything."
Sometimes, their conversation was about the high risk of cancer that ran in the family, and when Nestor's older sister Nidia, a physician, recommended that he have a PSA test every year starting at age 40, he took her advice.
Everything was normal until last January, when his primary care physician told him that his PSA level was alarmingly high. A second test two months later was significantly higher, and Nestor was referred to urologist Dr. Marc Beaghler. When Beaghler performed a biopsy, the results came back positive for prostate cancer.
Even with his family history, "It was a shock," Nestor says. Married for 15 years, and the father of three young daughters, Nestor thought a lot about the future. "It was hard for me not to think about my children, and my wife, and all the plans we had for the future that might not happen," he says.
The cancer had not metastasized, and Nestor could have waited, but Dr. Beaghler recommended robotic surgery to remove the prostate. Though he felt fine, "I was ready to do what I had to do," he says. After talking it over with his wife and siblings—one of whom had had robotic surgery for another condition—Nestor chose to go ahead. "The fact that it was less invasive, and that the recovery time was quicker really helped me make the decision," he says.
Last May, his wife, his children, and several of his siblings and nephews went with him to the hospital as he was admitted for surgery. "Before I went it was all laughter and jokes with my family," he says, "so I didn't really feel I was going for an operation."
The procedure went flawlessly. "Afterward I was kind of sleepy but I don't think I felt any pain at all," he says. He was released from the hospital after two days, and though he was provided with pain medication, he didn't need it.
Advised to remain active, and though he had a catheter for the first week, he walked for thirty minutes mornings and evenings. "After a week, I increased it to 40 minutes," he says, "then to an hour after two weeks."
Now, cancer free and completely recovered, he looks forward to visiting with his siblings next Christmas. Though the trip is usually two to three weeks, this year is different. "We have plans to go for a month and a half," he says, "and make up for lost time."