There’s never a good time to learn you have cancer.
But what action you take next quickly becomes a defining moment in your life.
Just ask Brian Lizotte, 54, owner of Lizotte’s, named the best entertainment restaurant in Australia, and a chef and musician (trombonist) in his own right.
Married and with daughters, he’s never been hospitalised in his life.
Lizotte confronted the cancer news after receiving the results of a biopsy of his prostate gland, taken after irregularities came up on an MRI, which was taken after a high PSA test reading.
“The whole concept of getting diagnosed at my age is a little bit daunting,” he said this week.
“I have two older brothers with prostate cancer as well,” he said. “That was just a kick in the guts. Can you imagine how my other brother is feeling!”
Brian’s youngest brother is Mark Lizotte, better known as Diesel, a long-time professional musician.
Lizotte’s Gleason score of 3+4+7 was high enough for him to be concerned (10 is the highest score: the higher the score, the more likely the cancer will grow and spread quickly) and take action.
Like so many people confronting cancer, the hunger for information led him to books, the internet and conversations with friends and, of course, his brothers, about prostate cancer.
“The frustrating part, that I want to get across, prostate cancer, at the moment, they have fabulous results with prostatectomies [removal of the prostate],” Lizotte said.
“But there is no conclusive proof that a man is going to live longer, as of yet. That’s the biggest frustration.”
Lizotte has chosen the route of a robotic prostatectomy, to be performed in Sydney. His logic: the cancer is confined to the prostate, so complete removal should rid his body of cancer cells.
Lizotte also confided in his friend, John “Swanee” Swan, who is also Jimmy Barnes’ oldest brother.
Swan, 65, has also been diagnosed with prostate cancer and plans on having a robotic prostatectomy.
Both men are encouraging other men to have the necessary digital rectal exam, the first step to early diagnosis of prostate cancer, in which a doctor checks the size of the prostate and assesses any abnormalities.
“You may be uncomfortable for a whole 30 seconds,” Swan said. “But it may be the difference for the rest of your life.”
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in Australia. More than 3000 men die of prostate cancer in Australia annually.
“From what I can see it is still something that is very in the dark to a lot of men,” Lizotte said. “I don’t know if it is because we are scared of it, or don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”