Godfrey: Making Smart Choices
When he was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer, Godfrey, who already knows much about health and health care, found out something else.
What he discovered is that when it comes to your own health care choices, you have to go with what you know is best. And he knew Mercy Medical Center.
Godfrey, a professional consultant whose focus area is health care availability, also happens to be the husband of Dr. Maria Jacobs, Director of Radiation Oncology at Mercy Medical Center. With connections like that, you’d think his health care choices would be laid out for him in advance.
But that’s not how it works. And Godfrey knew it.
“My wife is an excellent physician and obviously she knows about doctors and facilities, but for ethical reasons she couldn’t and wouldn’t treat me when I was diagnosed with cancer,” Godfrey said. “She was certainly a great support person and a good advisor through all of it, but all the decisions on my care were up to me.”
Choices to Make
Godfrey’s cancer had been discovered after he’d visited his urologist, Mercy Medical Center’s Dr. Alan Kusakabe. A routine blood test had revealed slightly elevated levels of Prostate Specific Antigens, or PSAs, a chemical made by the prostate gland. Dr. Kusakabe then scheduled a biopsy, and the subsequent results were a case of bad and good news.
“Dr. Kusakabe called and said the biopsy showed positive results,” he said, “but it was also in the early stages, and definitely treatable. That was the good news.”
Godfrey’s first call was to his wife, who was out of the country at a medical training seminar when he received the diagnosis. “She was devastated,” he said. “She knew what I’d have to go through.”
But she didn’t tell him where to go, or what to do.
Godfrey’s first move was to meet with Dr. Kusakabe, his urologist for a number of years, and a doctor he refers to as “cordial, warm, and smart.” They discussed several treatment options including surgery, hormonal therapy and radiation therapy. As part of the decision-making process, Godfrey also looked at other doctors and hospitals in the area for second opinions and after much consideration made his choice – he would have radiation therapy at a nearby hospital in Baltimore.
Before beginning the therapy, however, he reviewed his previous health care experiences and knowledge, and had a change of heart. He decided instead to go with what he knew.
“Over the years I’ve had several different procedures done at Mercy Medical Center and in each instance I received top-notch care and treatment,” Godfrey noted. “So I said to myself, why would I want to go somewhere else when I’ve had such fine care at Mercy? Why wouldn’t I take advantage of what I know are excellent facilities and physicians?”
So he did. “I decided on Mercy,” he said, “and I moved forward.”
Moving forward meant receiving 44 radiation treatments at Mercy over a three-month period with Dr. David Perry, Godfrey’s treating physician, overseeing the radiation treatments and tracking his progress. During that time, Godfrey said, he “didn’t get any special treatment, at least no more special than any other patient receives,” despite his connections. The only advantage he negotiated was early appointments on weekdays, allowing him to have the radiation treatments and still make it to his office in Rockville, MD on time each day. “I thought of it as having breakfast at Mercy every day,” he said. “I didn’t miss a single treatment.’
And despite the challenges and the reality, it turned out to be a pretty good and successful morning meal, and a smart health care decision by Godfrey.
“In the end everything went very well,” he said. “All the reasons that I chose Mercy for my treatment – ease of access, professionalism, and high quality staff - were true. All the things attendant to radiation therapy were well conducted and handled very professionally. I approached this in a positive manner and it turned out to be a positive experience.”
The Right Decision
Now that his radiation therapy is completed, Godfrey said he’s doing routine follow-ups with Dr. Kusakabe and awaiting what he said is the inevitable – a clean bill of health.
“Dr. Kusakabe was excellent. He never tried to dictate what I should do. He gave me his best thinking and answered my questions and was honest about my options. He was truly representative of Mercy Medical Center,” Godfrey noted.” And the Radiation Oncology staffs – therapists and nurses – were truly outstanding.”
“Overall I’d use the words courteous and gracious and skilled to describe not just Dr. Kusakabe but the entire staff. That’s what I found all across the board. Just walking down the hallways at Mercy you have a sense of belonging to something positive.”
“I think my decision to undergo treatment at Mercy was a brilliant one given the experience and the outcome,” he said. “My wife’s role was to leave the decision up to me. She let me talk to a lot of people and she felt I would know what was right, and I did.”
Godfrey's Treatment Team