PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Oregon resident George Polas learned in March he had an aggressive type of prostate cancer that would require surgical removal – just as the coronavirus pandemic began spreading rapidly in the United States.
For 71-year-old Polas, “waiting was not an option.”
Nevertheless, wait he did – for weeks – until he was given a tentative surgery date of May 13.
Routine surgeries and procedures have been put off at many U.S. hospitals as they adjust to treating an influx of patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and possible shortages of beds, protective equipment and supplies.
Even the May 13 date is not a certainty, Polas said. In the meantime, he will begin hormone therapy to slow the progression of cancer in the left side of his prostate.
If the surgery date is not confirmed, “I’ll be postponed till June, July, whenever they can get me in,” he said. “So, it’s kind of a waiting game.”
Still, while he faces the danger of progressing cancer, Polas is also aware of the risk COVID-19 poses for him, especially given his age and state of health.
“I’d hate to be in a situation in the hospital where I come down with this virus. You die from the virus and not from the cancer,” he said. “And I’m in that age category. I’m 71, and you’re in that hot spot for older people.”
Sue Polas, George’s wife, said she was accustomed to fixing everything for her family.
But, she said, “I can’t fix this. There’s not a thing I can do about it … It’s been emotionally awful for me.”
Reporting by Deborah Bloom; Writing by Bernadette Baum; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien