Grateful patients turned out to see UTHealth orthopaedic surgeon Rex Marco, M.D., receive a sarcoma award on Nov. 7. From left to right are Rhonda Johnson, Marco, Morgan LaRue and Bethany Bridgewater. PHOTO CREDIT: Priscilla Dickson
Grateful patients turned out to see UTHealth orthopaedic surgeon Rex Marco, M.D., receive a sarcoma award on Nov. 7. From left to right are Rhonda Johnson, Marco, Morgan LaRue and Bethany Bridgewater. PHOTO CREDIT: Priscilla Dickson

Dr. Rex Marco, professor of orthopaedic surgery, is the recipient of an award recognizing excellence in the treatment of a type of cancer called sarcoma.

The Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation (ASCF) presented Marco with the Commitment to Care Award on Nov. 7 at its annual gala in Houston.

It was Tom Amschwand’s vision to create a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding sarcoma research, to raising awareness, and to providing tangible support to families affected by the disease. Amschwand lost his battle with sarcoma in February of 2001 – the same month ASCF was founded.

Since then, his widow, Melissa Amschwand-Bellinger, has committed herself to carrying out the foundation’s mission, which includes providing nearly 1,000 nights of free housing for patients coming to Houston for care each year. Marco provides care for many of those patients.

“Dr. Marco was selected for the care and compassion that he offers to his patients. He knows what it’s like to be on the other side of the doctor-patient relationship. Dr. Marco lost his father to cancer. He truly treats his patients like they are family,” Amschwand-Bellinger said.

Marco’s patients include Rhonda Johnson, who has been cancer-free for 3 ½ years. “I was in pretty bad shape when I first met Dr. Marco. He helped save my life,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Marco is extremely attuned to the needs of his patients and cited her survival color – red – as an example. “Red was my energy color, positive energy. Red helps me stay positive so I had red blankets and red clothes. Even the chemotherapy was red. I called that positive red energy chemo,” she said.

Consequently, it was not lost on Johnson when Marco showed up in surgery wearing red scrubs. “I can’t tell you what type of impression that made on me,” she said.

Marco specializes in the care of tumors affecting muscle or bone and employs a combination of surgery, medication, and radiation. He is the chief of spine surgery and muscloskeletal oncology at McGovern Medical School.

Practicing medicine for about 15 years, Marco is recognized worldwide for his expertise and training in the care of complex spinal disorders and muscloskeletal tumors.

Marco completed his pre-med studies at the University of California, Irvine, finished a research fellowship at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and received his medical degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Patient appointments with Marco can be scheduled by calling 713.838.8300.

-Rob Cahill, Office of Public Affairs, Media Relations