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Introducing Dr. Eric Walser – Trailblazer in Prostate Cancer Treatment

Just down near the Gulf in Galveston, Dr. Eric Walser and his team of talented medical health professionals at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Wavelengh Medical are tackling prostate cancer in a new way.

(GALVESTON) – There are a number of medical concerns that plague the LGBTIA community. When we think about health crises, a lot of thoughts can tend to center around topics such as HIV/AIDS, safe sex practices, hormone replacement therapy, and suicide coupled with the dangers of untreated mental health. While none of these issues are necessarily specific to just our community, they have historically played a larger role in the lives of LGBTQIA people than they have in other communities. However, it is important for queer-identifying people to remember that these are not the only concerns that could arise in their lives. Queer people, just like all other people, are susceptible to problems in all the other varying realms of healthcare. One of which that does not discriminate against people of any sexual orientation or gender identification is cancer.

utmbteam Introducing Dr. Eric Walser - Trailblazer in Prostate Cancer Treatment
Dr. Walser and his staff at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical

Cancer appears in individuals of all sorts in various forms. For some, it can affect the brain, others the breasts, but can appear anywhere from within the bones to atop the skin and to any other part of the body. For many, this can mean the prostate. For those who aren’t familiar with the prostate, it is the gland that surrounds the bladder in people born anatomically male. It is the organ responsible for the propulsion of seminal fluid and the velocity of urination. And while it is known to be one of the more treatable cancers and has an extremely high survival rate, it is still an issue that—like all other cancers—can consume the patient’s life while undergoing treatment, especially so if left long undetected. Just like with all other cancers, the key to survival is early detection.

This isn’t just a problem for men, however. Often, the relevance of the prostate can even expand to transgender women, regardless of whether or not they’ve undergone reassignment surgery from male to female. As it turns out, during transitional surgeries (which often happen over the course of several procedures and after intensive hormone replacement therapy) the prostate is not typically removed due to potential complications with the surrounding nerves and blood vessels surrounding it. That said, trans women and those who identify as gender nonbinary, like cisgender men, should be cognizant of the need for prostate cancer screenings.

For this to happen, between the ages of 40 and 50-years-old, a person should be meeting regularly with a licensed physician (typically a primary care physician if the person has one) to begin having the prostate checked regularly throughout the remainder of their adult life. When this happens, the physician will be checking the patient’s prostate-specific antigen (or PSA) typically through blood test, looking to see if the patient has normal PSA levels. What is considerably adequate for good prostate health is a level under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) in the blood draw. However, if that number is upward of 4 ng/mL, the doctor will monitor these levels to watch for an uptick. Because PSA levels are not diagnostic, they are not necessarily indicative of prostate cancer. This is only the first step in the process of obtaining a conclusive diagnosis. In fact, stimulation of the prostate resulting in an active gland can cause these levels to rise through exercise, manual labor, or sexual activity. The uptake in PSA levels could also very simply be due to a prostate that is inflamed, but not breeding cancerous cells. That being said, to rule out the chance of prostate cancer, the patient’s physician will at this point refer the patient to a specialist. From there, the specialist—a urologist (or a doctor who specializes in diseases of the urinary tract) in this case— will carry out measures to ascertain a diagnosis.

Now, this is where things get a bit more complicated. The most commonly practiced method for diagnosing prostate cancer from this point is for the urologist to perform what is known as a “blind” biopsy. What is meant by the word ‘blind’ is that the urologist has not performed an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in order to assess whether or not a cancerous lesion is visible on the prostate. The process of performing a biopsy without an MRI involves sticking approximately 12-15 needles into the gland to take samples.

walser-cropped-bw Introducing Dr. Eric Walser - Trailblazer in Prostate Cancer Treatment
Dr. Eric Walser

Enter Dr. Eric Walser, an interventional radiologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) and physician at Wavelength Medical practice who believes that this may not be the best practice of diagnosing prostate cancer. As a radiologist, Dr. Walser understands the importance and benefits of not performing a biopsy without imaging, and instead has the MRI performed preemptive of the poking and prodding in order to see if a biopsy is even necessary. By performing the scan ahead of the biopsy, Dr. Walser is able to screen for cancerous lesions in the prostate. If a lesion is found, a biopsy can then be ordered with a more specific target zone so that only 2-3 needles need to be inserted into the gland as opposed to the aforementioned 12-15. By minimizing the invasiveness of the procedure, Dr. Walser’s methods can decrease the chance of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction that can often be side effects of the biopsy. Additionally, a patient who undergoes a biopsy will still likely be asked to undergo an MRI, as well. Unfortunately due to the amount of blood that will appear on the scan if done too soon after biopsy, the patient can often be asked to wait anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to have the MRI performed if the biopsy comes back positive. And while this isn’t the standard practice for physicians in this field, evidence supporting it is appearing rapidly. For example, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study just this past May, which concluded that having an MRI performed before a biopsy, or having an MRI-targeted biopsy performed, is the superior method of diagnosis.

wvm-with-utmb@3x Introducing Dr. Eric Walser - Trailblazer in Prostate Cancer Treatment
Wavelength Medical at UTMB in Galveston

But diagnosis isn’t where Dr. Walser’s interest in prostate cancer ends; and understanding his next move may come easier with a little background on his career. Dr. Walser once practiced medicine at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic’s campus in Florida where he was researching focal laser ablation (or surgical removal) of cancer from the lungs and liver. While researching these methods of treatment, Dr. Walser saw the opportunity to make a difference with those suffering from prostate cancer. For a long time, there were only a few options for conquering prostate cancer, which are still the most commonly practiced today. The first of which is radiation therapy (whether it be internal or external) to try to kill the cancer cells, which is sometimes accompanied by hormone therapy. Hormone therapy (though not a cure for cancer) is a method by which a physician will reduce the level of androgens in the body in order to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, as cancer cells feed off androgens and use them to grow. Radiation, however, does not come without side effects, as radiation is toxic to organic matter, of which the human body is composed. According the American Cancer Society, radiation in its varied forms can lead to troubles with the bowels, urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and impotency. The other option, and often one of the more popular among physicians and their patients, is total removal of the prostate, or prostatectomy. This too can lead to issues of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, but also can leave damaging amounts of scar tissue that may affect a physician’s ability to cut through and reach the area necessary to treat the patient again if the cancer were to recur.

And that’s where Dr. Walser’s love of focal laser ablation is helping those with prostate cancer. With his method, Dr. Walser is using focal laser ablation to excise cancer with a laser rather than removing the entirety of the prostate or poisoning the body with radiation in order to keep the prostate intact and, in turn, minimize the invasiveness of the entire course of treatment—from diagnosis to recovery. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, recurrence of prostate cancer can happen in anywhere from 30-90% of people after initial remission. This relapse generally takes places after 5-7 years of treatment and remission. However, through his studies and practices, Dr. Walser is coming to find that the chances of recurrence using his methods is somewhere near 15%—a drastic difference. However, since laser ablation for prostate cancer is new, there is not enough follow up to fully compare it to traditional therapies.

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Anne Nance, Nurse Practitioner

The process of the procedure is typically quite simple. Candidates for Dr. Walser’s program travel to UTMB on a Thursday night or Friday morning for a busy weekend. The first step in this process includes a mid-morning appointment with Dr. Walser’s in-house nurse practitioner, Anne Nance (APRN, NP-C), who talks with patients about their family histories, symptoms, plans, then rounds out to a procedure on a Saturday or Sunday with Dr. Walser (who kindly works weekends to better accommodate the schedules of his patients, who often travel from far beyond Galveston for treatment). The day of the procedure, patients can expect the ablation to last to last approximately 4 hours. From there, a catheter will be inserted into the patient due to the prostate swelling postoperatively, which closes the urethra and prevents urination. The catheter could be worn anywhere from 3-5 days, but sometimes even as little as 2. After that, the patient should take the time to recover for 1-2 weeks. Most patients can go back to normal activities of daily life soon after ablation, but should be mindful not to overexert themselves.

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Rebecca White, Registered Nurse

But like all good tales, this story, too, has its down side. Because focal laser ablation of prostate cancer is new to this field of medicine, insurance companies typically do not cover the procedure, which can leave patients having to spend more money to have this performed. But that isn’t a deterrent for Dr. Walser and his team at UTMB, and isn’t always one for his patients. In fact, the team’s biggest concern is making sure that patient’s get treatment and are diagnosed adequately. Speaking with Rebecca White (MBA, BSN, RN) of Dr. Walser’s team at Wavelength Medical, she stated, “Let us help you with the diagnosis. [Patients] may not be able to afford the treatment, but the process of diagnosis is usually covered by insurance.” She went on to say that by having the MRI performed before the biopsy, it could eliminate an additional cost to patients who don’t need the biopsy performed if there are no lesions found by MRI. And the way Dr. Walser and his team are practicing their methods of diagnosis, that could end up being the case for many, as White also states that due to the practice of blind biopsy, there’s a large chance for misdiagnosis or over-diagnosis in this field.

So, even if it comes down to not being able to afford this specific method of treatment, at least the folks at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical can help guide patients through the process of diagnosing in a way that could end up being more cost-effective and to a lesser degree of pain and wait time than many other practitioners in their field. Just because the “disposable gay income” isn’t a myth for everyone in the LGBTQIA community does not mean that money has to be thrown away on tests that could prove to be unnecessary. And Dr. Walser and his staff are only truly concerned about the health and lifespan of those they treat and diagnose. If that means getting a person treated by way of radiation or prostatectomy because focal laser ablation is unaffordable, that’s what these fine people will help you to make happen. It’s also worth noting for the LGBTQIA community that UTMB was recently one of only three Houston-area medical facilities to be named as a “leader” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) when it released its 2018 Healthcare Equality Index. This status bestowed upon UTMB is specifically awarded to the best of best, and is held in the highest regard with the HRC. In order for a facility to land this honor, they must score a perfect 100% on the HRC’s index, which takes into account a variety of factors, most notably LGBTQIA patient care and community outreach.

Cancer is scary; and prostate cancer gone undetected could considerably affect the lives of a great number of LGBTQIA people. Like other cancers, it can metastasize to other parts of the body and put a person at risk of larger health issues, some even resulting in death in the worst case. But with the help of people like Dr. Walser, Anne Nance, Rebecca White, and the rest of the incredible team at UTMB’s Wavelength Medical, it doesn’t have to come to that. With innovation like Dr. Walser’s and medical literature supporting these methods being researched and released consistently, their team is here to provide people who may be suffering prostate cancer with the opportunity to live a life not ruled by disease in a brand new way, while also redefining how prostate cancer is treated and the outcomes for patients.

No Mardi Gras Plans? Grab Your Toga & Get to Galveston

Toga Party Galveston Krewe Bacchus Sheraton Mardi Gras

The Krewe of Bacchus, Texas is throwing a Roman toga party in Galveston this weekend.

(GALVESTON) Bummed you don’t have plans for Mardi Gras? Grab your toga and head down to the Four Points Sheraton in Galveston for BACCHANAL, a Roman-themed toga party thrown by the Krewe of Bacchus, Texas. There you’ll find a cash bar, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, live music, and dancing. From 6:30 until 7:30, there will be a crowning of the king and queen. From 7:30 until midnight, it’s a giant party.

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The Krewe of Bacchus is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that raises funds benefiting other Galveston organizations and the surrounding community. They have been serving and giving back to the Galveston community for eight years and will be crowning the new king and queen of the Bacchus at the toga ball. Additionally, they are dedicated to the preservation of Mardi Gras in Galveston and support the Galveston College School of Culinary Arts and the East End Theatre Company.

Tickets to the ball are $45 and can be purchased at the door. The address to Four Points by Sheraton is located at 2300 Seawall Blvd. Galveston, TX 77550. Come enjoy yourself!

Toga1-300x169 No Mardi Gras Plans? Grab Your Toga & Get to Galveston

Family Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Galveston Sheriff

(Photo: About News) Family and Legal Team of Jesse Jacobs
(Photo: About News) Family and Legal Team of Jesse Jacobs

 

Family Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Galveston Sheriff

The Family Of Jesse Jacobs, A Gay Man That Died In Custody Of The Galveston County Jail Have Filed A Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Galveston’s Henry Trochesset And Officials For His Death!


 

(Galveston, Texas) 03/14/16 – On the steps of the United States Federal Court House in Houston; family, friends, and the legal team for Jesse Jacobs announced their filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit against Galveston Sheriff Henry Trochesset and officials after one year of ‘run arounds, no answers, and lack of transparency from officials’.

In the middle of some of the biggest media outlets in the country, lead attorneys U.A. Lewis and Debra V. Jennings outlined details in the federal complaint filed on the one-year anniversary of their client’s death.

The federal complaint accuses the Galveston County Sheriff of having blood on his hands in the death of Jacobs, accusing the Sheriff, his medical staff, and jailers of violating Jacob’s 8th and 14th amendment rights.

“The Galveston Sheriff executed our son.” The father of Jacobs stated to members of the media. “Today is the next step in finding answers.”

According to the complaint, Jacobs started having seizures after four days of incarceration as a direct result of lack of prescribed medication.

Disturbing details in the complaint outline how jail officials placed Jacobs in solitary confinement after he started to show signs of ‘withdrawals’ instead of transporting him to UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch). The jail did not have a medical unit, as required by federal law.

In the solitary cell that had no water, sink, shower or toilet, Jacobs was found unresponsive, with his matress covered in fecal matter.

“This is one of the worst cases of medical indifference to human life I have ever seen,” said Houston civil rights attorney, Randall Kallinen, “This goes on far more often than the public realizes.”

Jacobs was sentenced to 30 days (would have served only 15) for a DWI in Galveston County in 2015. The family claims the jail staff was provided with a prescription Jacobs needed, and had been prescribed for more than 10 years.

The complaint alleges that’s because the jail officials refused to provide prescribed medications that were imperative for Jacobs, he died.

One of the medical doctors mentioned and asked to provide health care to Jacobs while incarcerated appeared before the Texas Medical Board last week in Austin, Texas ‘steaming’ from a complaint filed by the Jacobs family. Another doctor, Dr. Teresa Becker, has a hearing set for April.

The Galveston County Medical Examiner determined Jesse’s cause of death to be “abrupt discontinuation of long term medication.” Jacobs died one year ago today at the University of Texas Galveston after being transported from the Galveston County Jail.

The family is seeking twenty-five million dollars in the lawsuit.

Reality TV Stars And American Gladiator Set To Walk Red Carpet At 2016 FACE Awards

Married to Medicine's Dr. Ashandra Batiste(L)and Sisters In Law's Jolonda Jones (R)
Married to Medicine's Dr. Ashandra Batiste(L)and Sisters In Law's Jolonda Jones (R)

WE TV’s ‘Sisters In Law’ Jolonda Jones, Cherrise Traylor, and Bravo’s ‘Married To Medicine’ Dr. Ashandra Batiste Set To Attend Houston’s LGBTQ+ FACE Awards To Honor The Community!

HOUSTONNOV 26 — It gets real as in ‘real’ilty this year on the red carpet for Houston’s LGBTQ+ FACE Awards as some of TV’s hottest reality stars come to Montrose for the 5th annual award show that honors the LGBTQ+ community in December presented by Avenue 360 Health & Wellness and Smirnoff Vodka. Set for Monday, December 12 in Montrose at South Beach. Red carpet arrivals at 7PM and award show at 8:30PM.silcastphoto Reality TV Stars And American Gladiator Set To Walk Red Carpet At 2016 FACE Awards

Rolling into their 5th year, the F.A.C.E. Awards swings out their fabulous red carpet in true celebrity fashion to welcome celebrity reality stars into Montrose for an evening that is promised to be the ‘VMA’s of Houston.’

Bravo’s hit TV show ‘Married to Medcine’ star Dr. Ashandra “Shan” Batiste will stroll down the magical red carpet that will be hosted by the Houston Chronicle’s Joey Guerra along with a special unnamed guest. Batiste, a Houston dental surgeon; is one of the stars of the new reality show that is currently being filmed in Houston. Batiste will also be a presenter. Bravo has long capitalized on the formula of revulsion + curiosity = good television.

2016-FACE-AWARDS-1024x256 Reality TV Stars And American Gladiator Set To Walk Red Carpet At 2016 FACE Awards

WEtv’s Network’s reality series Sisters In Law  Jolonda Jones will be in attendance. Jones is no stranger to reality television. She has appeared on the hit CBS television show Survivor multiple times. But proudly, Jones is a Houstonian, and an outspoken advocate. Currently in production of a new reality show, and a full television camera crew in tow, Jones will grace the red carpet. Jones is currently filming a new reality show.

WEtv’s Sisters In Law star Cherrise Traylor, will be joining the crowd that is set to honor some of Houston’s best in over twenty different categories. Traylor is a nationally known personal trainer, a national football player for the Houston Energy, and an American Gladiator.