Hockey has always been an important part of Steve Martak’s life. So it’s fitting that the St. Louis Blues’ run to the Stanley Cup would help motivate the lifelong fan and former high school hockey coach through radiation treatments for prostate cancer. He also credits his “angels” in Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital (BJWCH) radiation oncology.
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017, Gerald Andriole, MD, Siteman Cancer Center urologic surgeon, performed a prostatectomy on Martak, who says his surgery at BJWCH and recovery went well. Quarterly PSA (prostate-specific antigen) checks detected slowly increasing levels, a potential indicator of cancer recurrence and a sign that Martak required further prostate cancer treatment. Martak began radiation treatments in March 2019 under the care of Jeff Michalski, MD, Siteman radiation oncologist.
March also marked the beginning of the Blues historic run to the championship, a welcome distraction for Martak during his treatment. As the Blues battled their way through the playoffs, and ultimately to the Stanley Cup, Martak persevered through the prostate cancer treatment and celebrated every victory.
Martak wore the same Blues hat to each treatment - a Christmas gift from one of his four sons, all former hockey players themselves. As Martak supported the Blues, the radiation oncology team at BJWCH supported him.
“The radiation therapists were my angels, I feel like Charlie in ‘Charlie’s Angels’,” Martak says. “They were always smiling, they kept me upbeat.”
On his last day of treatment, May 31, the team surprised him by decorating the treatment room door and donning Blues gear. When his final treatment was finished, they played the Blues new theme song “Gloria” in celebration of his victory.
“He means just as much to us,” says Jessica Noble, lead radiation therapist. “We form relationships with our patients as they come in for weeks of treatment. We are happy for them when they are done, but we also are sad to see them go.”
On May 31, Marak rang the bell to signify the end of his prostate cancer treatments, accompanied by a few tears, and hugs from the radiation oncology team. KMOV News Channel 4 was there to share his story and the St. Louis Blues corporate office sent a box of memorabilia to help him celebrate.
Martak and his wife attended game four of the Stanley Cup on June 3, another gift from his sons, who had surprised him with tickets as an early Father’s Day gift. “I am so grateful for the care I received,” he says. “Go Blues!”
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