On the urging of his wife Marie, Cuzzetto made an appointment to see his family doctor to get a physical. What his family doctor didn’t know is that at the age of 18, Cuzzetto was told he had a heart murmur. At the time, he was young and felt invincible so went on with his life, without the follow-up test his doctor recommended.
“Looking back now, I never had energy,” says Cuzzetto. “I was short of breath. But I was working at Ford Motor Company at the time, so I thought it was because of shift work, working 10 to 12 hours a day.”
“When the doctor listened to my heart he heard a murmur,” he recalls.
He was referred to a cardiologist and soon after, was booked for a series of tests, including an angiogram, which confirmed Cuzzetto had a bicuspid aortic valve that needed to be replaced.
The next challenge for Cuzzetto was choosing between a tissue or a mechanical valve. Weighing the pros and cons, he chose the mechanical valve which is designed to last for life, but requires daily doses of Coumadin to reduce the risk of blood clots – a daily ritual he shrugs off as a small inconvenience.
Five days after surgery, Cuzzetto was back home to recover, sore from having his chest open, but thankful for those who helped him get a second lease on life. He is quick to mention his family doctor, his cardiologist and surgeon, and marvels at the technology and medication he takes every day that keep him alive.
He eventually returned to Ford Motor Company, contributing 31 years of service after which he transitioned to a life in the public service, serving as MPP for Mississauga- Lakeshore.
Cuzzetto sees his cardiologist and undergoes an angiogram every year to make sure his valve is in good working order. “Today, I have more energy, I’m living a normal life,” he happily acknowledges.
Rudy Cuzzetto is visibly grateful and if those events are not enough reminders, his constituency office happens to be in the exact place where his family doctor’s office was some 20+ years ago.