Doctor becomes patient with cancer diagnosis

Photo courtesy Marc Rucquoi

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Even doctors are not immune from life-threatening diseases, and to mark prostate cancer awareness month, ABCNews4 learned the story of a doctor who worked at Roper St. Francis.

Doctor Marc Rucquoi learned getting through tough times took something everyone could use: love and support.

Rucquoi comes to work every day to care for others, but less than a year ago, the career physician realized he was the one with symptoms.

"I started having to get up a lot at night to go to the bathroom," Rucquoi said.

He was soon diagnosed with prostate cancer. While his body had become the patient, his head wasn't there yet.

"It wasn't how I saw myself. I'm not the sick guy. I'm a doctor," he said. "To try to figure out what people's priorities are. What's important to them can be a very big factor in dictating care. So asking yourself those questions all the sudden is a switch."

Ultimately, Rucquoi decided surgery was right for him and he chose a familiar place: Roper St. Francis. And he risked his own privacy to have a unique robotic procedure.

To give him anonymity, Roper staff gave him an alias.

"I wasn't Rucquoi. I was Marc Smith. Nobody peripherally dealing with me knew I was doctor here in the hospital. So I wasn't a doctor while I was here. I could just be a patient," he said.

The treatment worked, he said. Now Rucquoi is back working at the hospital and maintaining the active lifestyle he knew before his diagnosis.

He said being a doctor and knowing what to expect helped him through his treatment. But he learned something anyone can have, not just doctors, really made the difference: the support of his family.

"All of that allows you to get back in to the game, whatever your game is, much, much quicker," he said.

Rucquoi said African American men over the age of 40 and all other men over the age of 50 are always at risk for prostate cancer, so they should maintain a running conversation with your doctor.