From Ortho Patient to Volunteer: John Kasubeck’s story

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

From orthopaedic patient to volunteer for Hip Hip Hooray, Ortho Connect, and Bad to the Bone – John Kasubeck has been entwined in many facets of the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation for 16 years.

John’s relationship with orthopaedics began in October 2001 with a right total hip replacement. Before that, John was living with constant pain. “I had a twisted body,” he says. “I had to give up golf and playing goal for an old-timers hockey team. I couldn’t sit, couldn’t sleep, or walk … it was terrible.”

For someone with a self-described A-personality, life with pain was a challenge, to say the least. John’s first consultation with Dr. Cecil Rorabeck in London, Ontario, was the first positive step in John’s orthopaedic journey. After being listed on Dr. Rorabeck’s cancellation list, John had his surgery 6 months after that initial visit when he was 51, and he has never looked back. John says, “Even in post-op, I could feel the back pain was gone, and felt comfortable for the first time in a long time. Of course, the pain meds helped,” he chuckles.

John threw himself into rehab exercises, and now, 16 years after that surgery, John plays golf three times a week, rides his bike regularly, walks, and swims. “Swimming is my passion,” says John. “I’ve been tracking the distance I swim since I was 32 years old. So far, I’ve racked up 5540 miles.”

After his successful surgery, John was highly motivated to give back to orthopaedics in some way, and signed up to volunteer with Dr. Rorabeck for the London Hip Hip Hooray walk fundraiser. Two years later, he was co-chairing the event, a position he held for three years, until Hip Hip Hooray wrapped up.

John was invited to be part of a COF Advisory Committee, looking at what issues patients faced, how the COF could help, and other items. Out of that committee came the creation of Ortho Connect, a program that matches people scheduled for orthopaedic surgery with trained volunteers who have had similar surgeries. John was one of the first to volunteer for the program, pleased to connect and share experiences with others facing a similar surgery to his.

Three years ago, John reached out to the COF when he read about the Sherry Bassin Bad to the Bone Golf Classic. The event combines 2 things John loves:  golf and hockey. “I’m very excited about the golf tournament and pleased to volunteer each year. What makes Sherry’s tournament unique is that the hockey players who attend – like Connor McDavid – are not just there in name only. They mingle and talk to the golfers. And of course Sherry is just phenomenal.” Host Sherry Bassin, former hockey executive, works year-round on the tournament, which, in June 2017, raised a net total of $112,000 for the COF.

Last year, John became recommitted to supporting orthopaedics when his wife, Susan, had a right knee replacement in September 2016, followed fairly quickly by a left total knee replacement in May 2017.

Susan Kasubeck says, “Pain totally impeded my lifestyle. After the success of my first knee replacement I couldn’t wait for the second, to get back to normal life.”

“Now, I can’t believe I was so afraid of surgery for years,” says Susan.  “I kept saying, ‘What if something goes wrong?  What if they make a mistake?’” she recalls.

Susan’s fears were put to rest by her surgeon, Dr. Robert McCalden. Susan is, in her words, “back to normal life.” She credits a water-walking program offered by her local YMCA. “It’s an amazing class, combining physiotherapy and water exercises.  I think that’s what helped in my quick recovery.”

John and Susan Kasubeck now, once again, lead healthy, active lives after their orthopaedic surgeries.

And the big winner? The Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation, which has benefitted greatly from John’s volunteer commitments over the years.