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Michael Spicer

The show must go on! Surviving prostate cancer

Michael Spicer embodies the theatrical credo that the show must go on.

After having surgery for prostate cancer at The University of Kansas Health System last year, he had no plans to appear on stage. He was focused on walking and recuperating as his surgeon, Jeffrey Holzbeierlein, MD, had instructed.

But his wife was directing La Cage aux Folles at the Salina Community Theater, where Spicer is executive director, and she still needed to cast a major part.

“She asked what I thought about doing the role. I said, ‘I just had surgery.’ She said, ‘It’s still a ways off.’ So two weeks later, when I had worked up to walking a couple of miles a day, I said I’d do it.”

"It's amazing how many women who volunteer at the theater have insisted their husbands get tested for prostate cancer. If you look for the silver lining in life, this will do."

-Michael Spicer

Michael Spicer with his wife, Vickee, and children, Maggie and Tristan.

Spicer played a drag performer in the play, which many know as the Nathan Lane role in the American film version of The Birdcage. And he played it to the hilt – complete with shaved legs and waxed eyebrows and chest.

“In the words of a Chorus Line song,” he said, “‘It’s what I did for love.’”

Spicer’s approach to his prostate cancer was equally single-minded. “In a situation like this, you try to take away the best of what the experience is going to be. You wish you didn’t have cancer, but since you do, you deal with it as a minor inconvenience, then move on with your life.”

Even more impressive, this was Spicer’s second round of surgery. Five years earlier, head and neck surgeon Terrance Tsue, MD, at The University of Kansas Health System treated him for an ameloblastoma (a benign tumor) in his right maxillary sinus.

After a specialist in another state told him he would have to lose his right eye, Spicer sought the opinion of Dr. Tsue, who was able to remove the tumor with a much less radical approach.

When Spicer was diagnosed with prostate cancer, recommendations from a friend in Salina and from Dr. Tsue led him to Dr. Holzbeierlein and the Midwest Prostate Center.

“I felt very comfortable with the way Dr. Holzbeierlein described the options to me. Because my ameloblastoma had been treated once before when I lived in California and recurred, I knew I wanted the option that would most completely clear the cancer. Plus, he was able to save both nerves, which was a key issue.”

Spicer also wanted the least invasive option so he could recover as quickly as possible. Now, one year out from surgery, the father of two has exceeded normal recovery standards.

“I’m still here – healthy, active and doing my job. I can look forward to seeing my kids graduate from high school and college and get married.”

And as a public figure in the Salina area – the Community Theater is the second largest in the state – Spicer said his experience with prostate cancer has had positive results.

“It’s amazing how many women who volunteer at the theater have insisted their husbands get tested. If you look for the silver lining in life, this will do.”