Dan Cappelletti’s life is filled with miles of experiences. Born and raised with six siblings in Pennsylvania, he eventually moved to Cape May County. There he taught and coached at Lower Cape May Regional High School, worked in a family business, and started a few businesses of his own.
An avid motorcyclist, Cappelletti loves to travel. It was on one of his rides that he got a call from his primary care provider. “I was in Chincoteague, Virginia with one of my buddies,” he explains. “My doc said, ‘Hey Cap, you had that blood work done. We need to get you home.’”
“My friend said, ‘Well, that can’t be good,’” recalls Cappelletti.
Dan’s primary care provider had ordered a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The results showed high levels of PSA – a protein that cancerous and not cancerous tissues can produce. Follow up tests confirmed the diagnosis – Cappelletti had prostate cancer. Next on his roadmap was deciding where to get treatment and which therapy to choose.
He researched cancer treatment centers. The last stop on his quest for who could help him navigate the care he needed solidified his decision. Cappelletti chose to have intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) at the AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute’s Cape May Court House location, about a three-minute drive from his home. The therapy, which AtlantiCare provides through its state-of-the-art linear accelerator, delivers radiation to the tumor with pinpoint precision, minimizing damage to surrounding health tissue.
“I did my homework. I spoke with a lot of doctors. As soon as I met Dr. Wurzer, he made me feel like we were family,” says Cappelletti, of James Wurzer, M.D., medical director, AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute and Radiation Oncology, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. “Dr. Wurzer was like a brother. He was so easy to talk with and to ask questions. He didn’t convince me. He spoke with me as we discussed my options. What he was saying made sense to me. I knew choosing radiation therapy was the best route for me. “Early detection of prostate cancer is key to deciding on the appropriate treatment,” says Wurzer. “Primary care providers play a key role in making sure their patients have PSA tests and other age and cancer risk-based tests and screenings.”
Cappelletti, who had his treatment in early 2021, celebrated his 70th birthday this year. His septuagenarian birthday party was an event to which he did travel – back to Pennsylvania. There he reunited with family and also celebrated with friends he’s met through travels to various states. He went on an eight-day, 1,600-mile motorcycle trip on Old Skyline Drive through Tennessee and Kentucky with his buddies.
“Everything someone can do, I am doing,” he says. “I go to the gym every day. I walk the beach with my girlfriend in North Wildwood, Cape May, and Stone Harbor – anywhere along the ocean in Cape May County.” Cappelletti says he is also grateful to have the opportunity to enjoy life with his family, including his sons and his grandchildren.
“Forming a relationship with a patient is really the foundation for their care,” says Wurzer. “You have to trust the person who is caring for you. Caregivers need to recognize that patients are putting their trust
in the team’s hands. Understanding the patient as a person, not as a disease, is the most important thing we can do as clinicians. That’s how we determine the best approach to designing a personalized care plan to meet the individual’s unique needs and lifestyle.”
“They were the best,” says Cappelletti of Dr. Wurzer and his AtlantiCare team. “I could have gone anywhere, but I wouldn’t have gotten this kind of care. Every day I came in for treatment the team was so professional and welcoming. I felt so relaxed and actually enjoyed coming in. If you have cancer, AtlantiCare is where you should start.”
“When I first met Dr. Wurzer, he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘You’ll be fine.’ And I am!” says Cappelletti. Watch Cappelletti’s story here.
For more information about the team and prostate and other cancer care at the AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute, visit atlanticare.org.