During his years operating offshore supply boats, Mark Colwart’s colleagues affectionately referred to him as the “Singing Boat Captain.”
His love for music is rooted in him like the waters he’s traveled. Mark’s legacy began in the swamps, boating and fishing. “I’ve been traveling down that bayou with my family since I could crawl,” he says. Mark enjoyed a full career maneuvering vessels with commercial crab fishing on the side. In 2014, he retired to his home near Cocodrie, at the same bayou camp he frequently visited as a child.
He is comfortable with high stress situations, ready to weather any storm. That came along with the work he did. “I can handle anything,” Mark says.
When Hurricane Zeta passed over his home in October 2020, Mark watched it come and go with ease. Ten months later, Hurricane Ida whipped through, leaving an indelible mark for many and wiping out Mark’s home.
“We couldn’t even find a piece of the house,” Mark said. “It was completely gone.”
Comprehensive, Compassionate Care at Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
While working through Ida’s aftermath, Mark put off other appointments. After settling into temporary housing, he went in for a routine checkup with his doctor.
Mark’s blood work showed his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels were elevated. He then saw a specialist and was placed on medication for five weeks. Despite this, his PSA levels continued to climb.
After more testing, Mark was diagnosed with prostate cancer, one year after losing his home during Hurricane Ida. A PET scan showed the cancer had started spreading to his ribs and pelvis. He was then referred to Janeiro Goffin, M.D., medical oncologist at Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Houma.
According to the National Cancer Institute, PSA levels below 4 are generally considered in normal range. Mark’s PSA levels were at 79 by the time he saw Dr. Goffin. “Then I started losing it,” he recalls. “I was freaking out.”
Dr. Goffin immediately made Mark feel comfortable, showed genuine concern and was confident the comprehensive care team at Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center could help. “I told Dr. Goffin what I had been through, and he said that was plenty enough to make my PSA levels rise,” Mark says.
Mark immediately started daily oral chemotherapy, along with hormone shots every three months. With patient navigation and support services from Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, he qualified for assistance to help cover the cost of his medication, which concerned him in the beginning. “I didn’t know how it was going to work,” Mark says. “I’m just so grateful and appreciative that I can keep taking this medicine.”
At Terrebonne General |Mary Bird Perkins, every patient is seen regardless of ability to pay, thanks to the generosity of the community.
Three months after starting treatment, Mark’s PSA levels were down to 15. About a year after diagnosis, he showed levels at 0.2.
“I had tears of joy when I walked out,” Mark recalls.
Looking Ahead to the Future
Mark sold his property on the bayou and is looking forward to his next step as he approaches the healthy age of 70.
While he continues treatment, Mark said he’s recovering in many ways. “Mentally, I’m healing,” he says. “My stress is down and I’m sleeping better. I’m able to start my life again.”
He is looking for a new home, but no matter where he moves, Mark will keep going back to Dr. Goffin and Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. He said the entire care team was professional and compassionate. “I know Dr. Goffin will be there for me and I’m comfortable with him,” he said. “They treated me right.”
Mark has learned to slow down, be patient and appreciate the moment. He looks forward to spending even more time with his already close-knit family, including his four children and many more grandchildren.
“I’m thankful to have lived this long. I’ve done more in my life than most people,” Mark says. “I’m just happy to wake up in the morning. I can smile now.”
And maybe sing a little, too.
Take Charge of Your Health
Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among men in Louisiana and Mississippi. Terrebonne General |Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center patients fighting prostate cancer are surrounded by a team of experts, providing comprehensive and individualized treatment plans.