Like father, like son: This Father’s Day more special for area family after pandemic, cancer diagnosis

The Belcastro family takes the phrase “like father, like son” to heart.

Dr. Marc Belcastro, Premier Health’s Chief Medical Officer, and his son Marc Belcastro II, who is an advanced practice recruiter for Premier, take inspiration from one another inside and outside of the hospital.

This Father’s Day is likely more special for most families, coming out of a long pandemic year, but it is even more special for the Belcastro family. Marc Belcastro overcame a cancer diagnosis during the pandemic. The family has always been tight-knit, but this brush with blood cancer has made the family even more thankful for one another.

The diagnosis was a shock to the whole family.

“It was fairly starling news. My dad is undoubtedly the healthiest person I know,” Marc Belcastro II said.

“I remember that night in August, telling everyone via a group phone call that I needed to go in for a biopsy and that it was a possibility,” Marc Belcastro said. “It’s hard to gauge what everyone is thinking in the silence on the other end of the phone.”

The elder Belcastro is now in remission after eight months of worry, two hospital stays, chemo and radiation.

“One of the delights of working at the same place as my dad is whenever I bump into people who know my dad, which is most people, they say, ‘We love your dad.’ And I have the pleasure and honor to convey that to him to say, ‘Dad, you’re making a difference here, you’re well respected,’” Marc Belcastro II said. “So that continued after his diagnosis, whenever I came into the hospital for work, they would say ‘We love your dad. Please tell him that he’s in our prayers, he’s in our thoughts... if there’s anything that we can do, please let us know.’ So to have that continued support, both within the family and outside, was tremendous.”

As he got sicker and more immunocompromised, Marc Belcastro said when he went to see his grandchildren, they would all wear a mask and gather at a safe distance.

“We did a lot of FaceTime,” Marc Belcastro said. “It’s funny because I’m kind of an adapter. I try to adapt to what I’m faced with. And so I adapted to living with the illness, I adapted to the pandemic and the remote work and the isolation. But when we finally started getting back together...It was like ‘Wow, I didn’t realize how much I missed it.’ It was so refreshing to get a hug.”

The elder Belcastro coached his son’s basketball team from kindergarten through eighth grade. Marc Belcastro II is the oldest of the three Belcastro children.

Marc Belcastro said he and his son have commonality in sports, movies and their belief in God, so they have always found it easy to talk and hang out.

It is easy to see that the father and son truly admire each other.

“What’s cool for me is in his current role, he’s a recruiter for physicians and advanced practice providers, advanced practice nurses, but this is his third role, and one of his other roles allowed him to interact with physicians, on the phone for the whole shift that he was working. No matter who it was... whether they would question Marc or me over the phone and go ‘Is that your son? He’s amazing to talk to,’” Marc Belcastro said. “He would be connecting physicians over critically ill patients, over sensitive situations, over sometimes situations that might be a little tense, and he just was always able to remain calm and bring sort of a peace to the situation and in conversation.”

“People see my name badge and say ‘Are you related (to Dr. Belcastro)?’ and I say “Yes, I’m the second edition,” Marc Belcastro II said.

Marc Belcastro II said he often seeks advice from his dad in parenting and at the hospital. The elder Belcastro said he is inspired by his son in their professional and family lives.

“I have a lot of pride, just seeing him and what he’s doing. It’s a warm feeling,” Marc Belcastro said of his son.

He is also inspired by his son’s work attire.

“Before the pandemic I dressed more casual, but Marc has inspired me to step up my game,” Marc Belcastro said. “I actually ran into one of our surgeons a couple of weeks ago and I had on a suit. He said ‘Are you trying to match your son?’” And I said, I’m not trying to match him, I’m inspired by him. He said ‘Good, because you can’t match him.’”

“I’m honestly, the one who’s been inspired by him growing up,” Marc Belcastro II said. “Every day is like Father’s Day, when I’m here at work with (Dr. Belcastro) and then I go home to my three luminous children.”

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