Coordinated care is the hallmark of Nassif Community Cancer Cente
Mark Kerslake is glad he didn’t have to face cancer alone. “There were so many steps to go through,” the 47-year-old Lisbon man recalls. “I had no idea who to see or what to do.”
Fortunately for Kerslake, his doctors and support team at Nassif Community Cancer Center were with him all the way. As he says, “I never felt like I was on my own. I got everything I needed, right from the get-go.”
Kerslake was already juggling raising crops and livestock on his family’s certified organic farm, working for General Mills and spending time with his wife and kids.
When he discovered blood in his stool in January 2017, he shrugged it off. “I’m like a lot of guys,” he admits. “When we have a health problem, we rationalize it’s not a big deal.” But when the bloody stool persisted, Kerslake decided to have it checked out. “I went to my doctor and she recommended a colonoscopy. That’s how the whole process started.”
The colonoscopy revealed late stage two rectal cancer. Dr. Bhavya Akhauri, St. Luke’s gastroenterologist, immediately referred Kerslake to Connie Dietiker, care coordinator with Nassif Community Cancer Center.
“The first time Connie called, she’d already set up appointments with the doctors I needed to see,” says Kerslake. “She made the process simpler by taking all that out of my hands.”
Kerslake underwent surgery, followed by chemotherapy. Next came radiation treatment at St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center. Kerslake says his physician team worked closely together on his care. “You always knew they knew who you were and why you were there,” explains Kerslake. “My doctors all took the time to walk me through what was going on and what to expect at each step.”
Kerslake also appreciated Dietiker’s coordination of appointments and treatments. He says, “Fall was coming and we were getting ready for harvest, so not having to worry about running into town all the time was hugely important.” Dietiker scheduled appointments with multiple providers for the same day to cut down on Kerslake’s trips to Cedar Rapids. When he required daily radiation therapy, she arranged for him to receive treatment in the morning before going to work. She also supported him with information on everything from diet to how to cope with side effects.
“The care I received was phenomenal,” recalls Kerslake. “I wasn’t just one more person walking through the door. They really cared about me.”
“From the start, I never considered the possibility that this wasn’t going to be cured,” Kerslake adds. “I’m at about 70 percent now, but I have cows to feed in the morning, so I get up and get going every day. I said we’re going to fix this and we are.”
Nassif Community Cancer Center surrounds you with coordinated care that pulls together the physicians, services and other resources you need. Click here to learn more about the importance of colorectal cancer screening with colonoscopy.