I pretended the call was from the hospital and dropped my wife, Kira, off – and then gave my complete attention to my urologist. I returned to the restaurant with news that would dominate the rest of the night’s conversation: I had prostate cancer.
Not long after, Kira and I sat down with Dr. Wingo and talked about the diagnosis, the treatment options, the complications and possible outcomes. That is always a difficult conversation – and for as many times as I’ve sat down with patient, this time I was listening to the information with a completely different perspective. Now I was the patient. My risks, my outcome, my family and my future.
At 53 years old, I elected to undergo a radical prostatectomy. I chose robotic surgery because of the lower risks for complications and the improved outcomes data (doctor talk for, I want things to go as well as possible). I had a list of centers around the country where I could go for “expert care” − I chose Roper Saint Francis.
As a Hospitalist at Roper Hospital, I spend many hours within the RSF system. I am proud of the care we provide, and I knew I could trust my own personal care to the people I work with on a daily basis.
There is a temptation to dismiss my experience as unique, since I am a physician within the system. I certainly wanted the best care I could receive, as we all do. I also wanted a level of privacy. The morning I came to Roper for surgery, I was admitted as “Mark Smith.” Not a doctor, not an employee. My records, my labs and the sign on my door all read, “Smith.”
I knew my care would be excellent whatever my name.
The next few days provided me with a perspective on healthcare – on caring — that I will never forget. The nursing staff was amazing. They helped me control pain, walk the hallways 14 hours after my surgery and taught me how to be a patient.
The day after I returned home, I walked a mile around our neighborhood. It wasn’t fast, or graceful – but I could do it. Two-and-a-half weeks later, I put my white lab coat back on and returned to Roper as a Hospitalist.
I could give many reasons why I placed my confidence and my care in Roper Saint Francis . Perhaps my greatest reason was this: beyond being an employee, or a physician, I am a dad. My 6-year-old son has plans for my future. At the end of the day, it’s not “healthcare” I was seeking, but rather more time with my family.
Dr. Marc Rucquoi is a Roper St. Francis Hospitalist and prostate cancer survivor. The WCIV-ABC News 4 video with Rucquoi can be viewed here.