Nancy Wurtele, Nebraska City (2nd patient transplanted)Transplant patient
“I was having a chemo treatment the day that Dr. Armitage came to see me. For the first time in my treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, I heard the word cure! I was 34, the future was not bright, and by the time I drove home, I decided to go for broke, all or nothing, but God gave me everything....I am now 64. ... Our two sons graduated from high school, and both have bachelor’s and master’s degrees. They are both married, and we have five grandchildren, with the sixth due in June.”


Transplant patientChris Pilcher-Huerter, Omaha
“In February of 2009, Hodgkin lymphoma returned to me. The relapse treatment recommendation following chemo was a stem cell transplant. I have always been a very positive person but faced a unique fear when diagnosed a second time. I had a seven-year-old son at the time and gained renewed determination to fight, knowing he needed me and wanting to watch him grow. ... The brilliant UNMC team has given me the gift of life and love. I am able to live life with renewed energy and endless possibilities. On May 11, I’ll celebrate the fourth anniversary of my stem cell transplant. Indeed it was a rebirth for me. "




Robert Blanchard (transplant recipient), and Shirley, wife, OmahaTransplant patient
“Our oncologist, Dr. Peter Silberstein at Alegent Creighton University, worked with us in reviewing research on multiple myeloma and recommended a stem cell transplant. He referred us to Dr. Vose. After prayer and careful consideration, we had the procedure in February 2010. The transplant saved my life. We have a quality of life that would not have been realized without the collaboration of the oncologists in providing current treatment based on research about transplantation and maintenance pharmacology. Dr. Vose and staff, may you continue to provide excellent client-centered care using the evidence to support quality of life for all patients living with a diagnosis of cancer.”



Transplant patientKarli Bruxvoort, 17, Pella, Iowa
“I’m very grateful to be alive. It allows me to look into the future with hope I wouldn’t have had without a transplant. And to plan for college and a job eventually. And to look into the future and know that good things are waiting. After college I want to major in science and probably go into the medical field – it’s been a goal since I was young.”





Whitey Glup, PlattsmouthTransplant patient
“It’s meant everything to me. I’m not the same guy that I was three years ago when I had my transplant. Many of the things that I thought were important then really weren’t – like playing golf five to six times a week and motorcycles. I have a much slower pace and spend a lot of time with my two grandsons. The people (health providers and staff) here are so good. I have nothing but praise for them.” 





Transplant patientBill Penry, Omaha
“After being told I had less than a month to live, and then successfully undergoing two separate bone marrow transplants, it is easy to say what it means to me. It means life…..and living it well.  And 20 years after the fact, the  UNMC program is extremely successful and I am alive and  very well. Is there anything in this world more  important than that ? Not to my wife of 45 years, nor to our two children, nor  to my employees,  nor even my cats. And certainly not to me. All of us who have received this second chance, this extension of life as we know it, recognize what the UNMC transplant programs are, as well as  the personnel that  make them what they are. And we all are thankful beyond words.”




Wendy HarrisTransplant patient
“It has changed my life by giving me life. In essence, the procedure has allowed me the opportunity to not only exist, but exist in a more meaningful manner. I was originally diagnosed in November 2006 with acute myeloid leukemia. Initially, my disease was contained and treated through traditional chemotherapy procedures. These regiments allowed my disease to remain in remission for three-and-a-half years. By the grace of God, my older sister, Jody, was a match. We were amazed to learn that my sister did not need to go through a painful bone marrow aspirate, but that the stem cells would be filtered out of her blood. Within days, my sister’s stem cells produced new red and white blood cells to replenish my bone marrow and immune system. Because of my stem cell transplant, I have been able to lead a full life. I am a full-time veterinarian, a mother to two active daughters, and wife to my wonderful husband.”


Jim Roethler, Sioux City, Iowa
"Having had two transplants, I feel very blessed to be alive and am more appreciative of the medical field and to the UNMC doctors, nurses and staff for saving my life twice. Their care was impeccable. I am more appreciative of my family, friends, and my job. I do everything I thought of doing before, but didn't do. I fish more. My wife and I travel more, not worrying as much about the cost. I no longer worry about the things I can't control. I pray more. I appreciate being pain free. I enjoy each and every day. I find it hard to complain about anything since I am alive to enjoy so many things I took for granted."



Transplant doctorPhilip Bierman, M.D. - Professor, Internal Medicine
“It’s hard for me to express my admiration for the way our patients put their faith and trust in us. They are going through a bad period in their lives, but they are invariably kind and gracious. They are understanding even when they get bad news or when we answer their questions with, "I don't know." Our patients rarely complain, no matter how bad they feel or how serious their condition is. I know this is what makes me and my colleagues enjoy doing what we do.”





Lori Maness-Harris, M.D. - Assistant Professor, Internal MedicineTransplant doctor
“One important thing I have learned from my patients is that one’s definition of “quality of life” may not be the same as your own. Life inevitably changes after transplant. My patients who seem to live the best lives, regardless of how long, are those that recognize this isn’t a static thing and to make adjustments. As their physicians, we must make changes along with them if we are to take the best care possible of them.”



Greg Bociek, M.D. - Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
“We travel a remarkable road with all of our patients. We often meet them at a time of fear and vulnerability, we get to know a bit about who they are and why they chose us. We get to meet their family members and learn about dreams and lives put on hold. We develop a relationship built on trust and security. We take them on a road that literally puts their lives in our hands. We see them recover from the side effects of our treatment.  We see them slowly get their lives back. Then one day we look up in clinic and realize it might be the 5th, 10th or 20th anniversary of their transplant. We see a life lived because of the wonderful combination of science and human compassion.”

Nurses and staff:

Executive Director, Cancer Care Service Line, TNMCTheresa Franco, RN, BSN, MSN, Executive Director Cancer Care Service Line, The Nebraska Medical Center
 “Being a part of the transplant program has been the most rewarding experience of my career at the medical center. It has been an honor to be a part of a team that has made a commitment to patients to deliver state of the art compassionate transplant care. I never imaged I would have the privilege of working with so many talented individuals who have made an impact on so many professional and personal lives. What an incredible journey.”



Theresa Woodrum, RN, BSN, OCN, manager of The Nebraska Medical Center Oncology Hematology Special Care Unit
“I am proud to say I’ve been here since the first bone marrow transplant. I am thankful to have been a part of a remarkable medical team which has, over the years, provided extraordinary care for the most amazing patients and their families. I will never forget the people who selflessly gave their lives and bodies to help us gain the knowledge to improve our processes and therapies for the next individual with cancer to receive a transplant or intensive therapy. It is incredible to me how I came to be here to support and encourage these people through their toughest hours and, in turn, they somehow always made me feel supported and a part of their family. The pride I feel every day when I come to work is endless.”

JoAnn Tate, Patient Liaison, UNMC Division of Oncology/HematologyPatient Liaison, Oncology/Hematology
“Every day I meet the most courageous, wonderful people. They teach me so much every day about hope, strength, survival and gratitude. They come here facing a fatal disease and most of them leave knowing they have they have their lives back to continue living life to the fullest. For me I leave work every day feeling grateful to have met these folks. It certainly has put a perspective on my life.  Health, family, friends and faith become the most important things in life and I no more take those things for granted.”




 Manager/Case Manager, Oncology/HematologyKim Schmit-Pokorny, RN, MSN, OCN, Manager/Case Manager, UNMC Division of Oncology/Hematology
“It has been very exciting for me to have been part of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program since almost the beginning. I am continually impressed with the high level of commitment and expertise from the many team members who have made it into a successful program. I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Anne Kessinger as she developed Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. This experience has given me the opportunity to see Phase I research become standard-of-care practice across the world. As I worked with patients undergoing transplant throughout the years, it has been inspiring to see that we really have made a difference in their lives. I am extremely proud to work at UNMC and with the BMT Program!”




Susan Mejstrik, RN, BSN,OCN, Clinical Nurse Educator, The Nebraska Medical CenterClinical Nurse Educator
“To be a part of something bigger than itself. To achieve what others thought was impossible. Now realizing our treatments were groundbreaking in medicine as well as nursing. To realize that we were paving the way and laying the basic fundamentals in Bone Marrow Transplants and  future treatments in the care  of cancer patients. But most of all, realizing that we were giving cancer patients, a sense of hope for a cure.”




Assistant, Oncology/HematologyElaine Ryan, assistant, UNMC Division of Oncology/Hematology
“What amazes me the most is the growth of the program in the last 30 years and the fact that patients come to Nebraska from all parts of the world because of the reputation of our Transplant Program. It takes the dedication of many people at the Medical Center.  Some are involved in the initial referral of the patient into the system, some in the care before and during the transplant, and others in the post-transplant follow up. It has been very exciting to be a part of it.”




 Carla Gaul, assistant, UNMC Division of Oncology/HematologyAssistant, Oncology/Hematology
“It was interesting to realize as the first bone marrow transplants were being done what a new procedure this was. When problems developed, solutions had to be found almost immediately. A tremendous amount of brainstorming must have gone on as physicians and medical personnel worked to solve problems, and it must have been extremely stressful for those involved. They, however, did not give up. Problems were solved and the procedure has become a lifesaver for many cancer patients.