Mark's Prostate Cancer Survivor Story
Mark Kuzio, 64, has been a potter and artist for over 38 years. In addition to clay, he works in photography and sculpture. The "Patio Flame" is his most recent innovative concept in the pottery field. He travels throughout the year selling at major craft shows and festivals from Maine to Maryland "I'm blessed to have forged my career as a potter, working with clay to make beautiful and useful objects," says Mark. However, he had to put the tools down for a few months.
For many years, Mark said had been discouraged from having a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test because he did not have significant symptoms. A friend suggested he should be screened. Mark went to visit urologist, John Gregory, MD, at Waldo County General Hospital in his hometown of Belfast. After months of repeated testing, an eventual biopsy revealed he had intermediate stage prostate cancer. "I was shocked," says Mark. "I learned my treatment options were radiation or surgery." Mark said surgery was his choice after reading as much as he could on the topic. "Finding a surgeon with as much experience as possible with prostate surgery is very important.”
Tracy Robbins, a MaineHealth Cancer Care Network patient navigator, was instrumental in helping Mark coordinate his care in the beginning. "There were many questions and concerns that I had when I was trying to figure out how to smoothly proceed down this road I was now on. Tracy was always there to help when I needed it, be it pre-surgery, post-surgery or follow ups!"
Mark was referred to Maine Medical Center. His surgery was performed by Matthew H. Hayn, MD, Maine Medical Partners – Urology. The surgery took 3 hours to remove his prostate. Dr. Hayn explained today's surgical innovations often have shorter recovery time for some patients and leave a few small, one-inch incisions rather than a large seven- to eight-inch incision. Patients typically spend only a day and night at the hospital, compared to three to five days after traditional prostate surgery. Two weeks after the surgery, Mark said he was feeling good, taking walks around the neighborhood. "I was completely amazed at how quickly I recovered from the procedure,” says Mark. Dr. Hayn contributed Mark's progress to his positive attitude. "He was interested in returning to his normal activity as soon as possible.”
Mark is now interested in adding the sport of curling back into his winter schedule. He has participated at the Belfast Curling Club since 1989 and is where he met his friend Bill Pieske. Bill also had prostate cancer and is the one who urged Mark to see an urologist. "Thank God that Bill strongly encouraged me to have it checked,” says Mark. Today, Bill and several other friends, all prostate cancer survivors, meet regularly over lunch or dinner in downtown Belfast to share their thoughts and how they are feeling. "Along with my family, these guys, who have also been through this experience, have helped me face this challenge... and that is what you need,” adds Mark.
Mark continued to receive care within the MaineHealth Cancer Care Network. Mark underwent radiation treatments a year after his surgery. The treatments were an elective by Mark in consultation with Dr. Glenn Healey, a radiation oncologist with MaineGeneral Medical Center, and a referral from Dr Hayn.
"From Dr. Healey to Andrea Martelle, the nurse navigator, to the clinical staff and all of the radiation therapists, the knowledge and caring was exemplary!" said Mark, explaining about his care at the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care, which part is of the network.