Aztec Basketball Coach Rebounds From Cancer

Steve Fisher returns to the court after robotic surgery for prostate cancer

On the basketball court, Steve Fisher is known as a coach and teacher. In his tenth season as the head men’s basketball coach for San Diego State University, he has built a strong program with post-season trips to the NIT and NCAA basketball tournaments. Now, Coach Fisher is educating others about something else that has made a profound impact and touched his life – cancer.

“I had a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test during an annual physical a couple of years ago, and it came back with an elevated reading. I then had a follow-up biopsy that showed cancerous cells in my prostate,” says Coach Fisher. “My life changed in an instant.”

Coach Fisher and his wife, Angie, did a lot of research on prostate cancer treatment options. Already a patient at Scripps Green Hospital, they found out that Scripps Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery Program offers an alternative to traditional open surgery. Robotic Surgery using the da Vinci surgical system is performed through minimal incisions and results in less blood loss, less risk of infection, less pain and scarring.

“I’m old school,” says Coach Steve Fisher with a chuckle. “I was the last on the block to get direct deposit of my paycheck. I had to feel it, take it to the bank and put in the bank myself. But, once you learn about robotic surgery, you see the benefits.”

“As a surgeon, the robotic technology allows me to reach the prostate, which is deep in the pelvis, and have a magnified view of the area.” says Carol Salem, MD, medical director of Scripps Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery Program. “The articulating arm with the tiny, surgical instruments rotates 360-degrees and provides me with greater precision than my own hand.”

Coach Fisher calls it a “textbook” surgery. He had the procedure at Scripps Mercy Hospital on May 17, 2008, spent one night in the hospital and then the next day was able to relax and sit out on the patio with Angie. He says most people never even knew he had the surgery.

“If I had to tell my own son where to go, it would be right here at Scripps,” says Coach Fisher. “I could have gone anywhere in the world and not have been treated better than I was at Scripps. I feel great.”

So great, in fact, his players need a fast break to keep up with him both on and off the basketball court.

For more information about how you can support lifesaving care at Scripps Mercy Hospital, please call 619-686-3836. To learn more about Scripps doctors and , please call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777).