The Healthcare Foundation receives $500,000 Gift to Support Prostate Cancer Research at Sarasota Memorial

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October 24, 2022

Sarasota newcomers Cathy and Frank Burzik recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Their love story began in Western New York where they met while roller skating as teenagers. After finishing college, both pursued graduate degrees and began their engineering careers at Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. Subsequent positions took the couple to New Jersey, San Francisco, and San Antonio where they lived until moving to Sarasota permanently in 2021.

Cathy says she and Frank have been healthy throughout their long marriage, so it was quite a shock when Frank was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Today, he is cancer free and living a healthy life. The Burziks attribute that to the care Frank received at Sarasota Memorial.

When asked whether the quality of healthcare in Sarasota factored into their original decision to move to the area, the Burziks said no­—but it was the reason they moved here permanently two years ahead of plan. “We are fortunate to have the means to go anywhere for medical treatment,” Cathy says.  “We had no idea how many highly qualified doctors—using the most advanced medical techniques—were practicing here until Frank was diagnosed.”

Frank received his diagnosis in June of 2021 and was referred to Robert I. Carey, M.D. who specializes in urology in areas such as minimally invasive robotic surgery and management of prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers at the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute.

“I really appreciated Dr. Carey’s medical approach, he was very straightforward and laid everything out for me,” says Frank. “Knowing he has performed over 4000 prostatectomies and his reassurances that I would go on to live a very healthy life, I wanted to be here for surgery, and for follow-up care.”

As experienced philanthropists who established the Catherine and Francis Burzik Foundation in 2011, the couple was eager to find a way to support SMH. A friend connected them with Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation which facilitated a meeting with hospital leadership. After reviewing their options, the Burziks decided to direct their resources to Sarasota Memorial Research Institute to support Dr. Carey’s clinical research.

Sarasota Memorial Research Institute has a well-established infrastructure of knowledge and experience in conducting clinical research studies, coupled with Dr. Carey’s knowledge of urologic cancers, made this the ideal way to help the community by fostering advancements in urologic cancer care.

Throughout his career, Dr. Carey has amassed a great deal of patient data, including medical approaches, outcomes, genetic testing and more. It was his vision to get the data organized and analyzed and to disseminate new knowledge about prostate cancer and other urologic disorders and treatments. Dr. Carey was certain that an investment in urologic research would help advance scientific knowledge that would benefit patients, physicians, students, the community and beyond.

“Supporting research like Dr. Carey’s is how we can help maintain the level of care here. It will also help Sarasota Memorial Health Care System continue to attract other phenomenal physicians,” adds Frank.

“We thought it could be very valuable to review the data retrospectively—look at outcomes, treatments, quality and length of life going forward,” adds Cathy.  “We’re looking at it in terms of both patient and physician education.”

“We are very grateful for the Burziks and their generosity.  Their gift propels the mission of the Sarasota Memorial Research Institute forward by supporting physicians, such as Dr. Carey, to generate new knowledge and promote innovation to improve patient care,” says Tamela Fonseca, Director, Sarasota Memorial Research Institute.

Shortly after the Burziks made their $500,000 gift, Cathy was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. She was surprised and grateful for the level of expertise and advanced surgical procedures offered at the health system. We’ll share her story another time, it too had an excellent outcome. Cathy and Frank are avid ballroom dancers and are “back in the ballroom,” dancing with a renewed sense of purpose.

“I feel like we were meant to be here,” Cathy says.  “To get well, to advocate for Sarasota Memorial, and to inspire others to support the hospital,” she says. “I hope everyone knows how lucky we are to have this level of care in Sarasota.”

Learn more about our Leading with Care cancer campaign.

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