Former cancer patient becomes donor after excellent hospital care

Courtesy Photo Rick Gentges, left, and Susan Gentges embrace each other for a photo at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena.

ALPENA — Rick Gentges, a man residing in Presque Isle who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2020, became a donor with his wife, Susan, to the MyMichigan Health Foundation to support other patients and families after continuous excellent care at the Cancer Center in MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena.

After getting a prostate cancer diagnosis, Gentges soon met with Radiation Oncologist Dr. Mario Lacerna to discuss treatment options around the same month, which ultimately led to a prostatectomy at the University of Michigan in January 2021.

“He’s not one of these doctors that beats around the bush, he just kind of lays it out for you, which is something I appreciate,” Gentges said. “I wasn’t looking for anybody to hold my hand. I just wanted to understand what my options were and things like side-effects, success rates — and he walked me through everything.”

Three months later, however, doctors found that the cancer had spread to an adjacent lymph node chain.

With the established rapport with Lacerna, Gentges trusted the Alpena cancer care team for eight weeks of radiation treatment in his journey with cancer.

“I think I had about 38 or 39 treatments over the course of eight weeks,” Gentges. “There was just a lot of care and concern, and not just from Dr. Lacerna. The staff there and the technicians who were involved in my treatment were just incredible, wonderful people. They were always willing to answer questions.

“Going through the same process for radiation treatments with a lot of the same people going through this opened my eyes to the fact that we’re very blessed to have this type of facility locally,” Gentges continued. “To go through the experience and have what would be a very negative thing, it turned into a very positive experience. If they didn’t have the cancer center there, you’re faced with either going to probably Traverse City or Midland, then I’d be faced with an extended stay in a place I don’t know. ”

Since the eight-week treatment, Gentges has been in remission from cancer for over three years. He said that all signs are encouraging, but that it should be another two years until he’s deemed as cancer-free.

With the helpful care that he received from MyMichigan during a relapsed, negative experience, Rick and Susan Gentges were moved by the care they had received from MyMichigan cancer center staff and began donating to MyMichigan Health Foundation to support others going through a similar journey to his.

“While it’s important to donate to hospitals and its research programs, the actual care, to me, is equally as important, if not, more important to people who are less fortunate,” Gentges said. “I was reluctant to share my story because I don’t want things to be about me. It should be about the care facility.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today