MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Every year more than 200-thousand patients are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
It’s the most common type of cancer for men.
Now, thanks to a new type of treatment, one local survivor can continue his marathon mission across the country.
Bate Blair, 76, likes to run marathons. Not half marathons, full marathons. He fills his days training to power walk 26.2 miles at races all over the country.
“It’s the challenge of doing it. Every time I line up at the starting line, I say ‘oh shoot, this seemed like a good idea when I signed up 9 months ago.’ But when you finish, hot dog we finished, we’re done,” he said.
A few years back, Blair set a goal. He wanted to complete 76 marathons by his 76th birthday, and he wanted to do at least one in every single state.
He was well on his way to accomplishing those goals when a health scare nearly sidelined him for good. Blair was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He handled the diagnosis the same way he handles a race, he took it all in stride, opting for a new type of treatment called “HIFU”.
“I said what the heck is ‘HIFU’ and he said high intensity focused ultrasound,” explained Blair when he asked his doctor what it was. “I said,’well, it’s only my favorite life. let’s go with the HIFU’.”
His doctor, Dr. Dipen Parekh at the University of Miami School of Medicine, said the treatment is fairly new. The FDA approved it in 2015 and Dr. Parekh has already performed about 50 of the procedures.
“High intensity focused ultrasound, it’s not a surgery, it’s a procedure which basically transmits waves and destroys that area of the prostate with cancer but saves the remainder of the prostate. Therefore it saves the potential collateral damage that can happen by treating the prostate with surgery or radiation,” he said.
Dr. Parekh said Blair was an ideal candidate for the HIFU treatment because it enabled him to get back on his feet the very next day.
“Surgery would have put him behind at least for eight to 12 weeks to do these things. He was first and foremost an ideal candidate. He was a perfect candidate for that and the result is there for you to see,” said Dr. Parekh.
Blair completed a marathon just two months after his procedure and a follow up a few months later came back “all clear.” He still has nine more states to go, which he says will put him at 80 marathons total.
So he’s set a new goal of 100 marathons and thinks he’ll be able to do it thanks to his doctors and the HIFU treatment.
“I’m very fortunate for modern medicine, lucky I was a candidate for it. It worked out very very well for me. I gotta thank him for saving my life, it beats the alternative,” he said.
HIFU does have some risks including possible urinary tract issues, but Dr. Parekh said if it doesn’t work, patients still have the option of trying other treatment methods.