Vital Signs

Cancer survivor: UNMC is one-of-a-kind

James Armitage, M.D., speaks with David and Patti ArestyWhen David Aresty was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1988, he found more than a skilled health care team in Nebraska.

The apparel maker from Far Hills, N.J., found a lifelong family.

"The doctors and nurses in Nebraska are care givers in the truest sense of the word," Aresty said. "They exhibited a quality of human kindness not found among all health care providers. I was a human being first and a patient second."

Aresty returns regularly to UNMC, where he received an autologous bone marrow transplant on April 10, 1989.

A partner in Alfred Dunner Inc., Aresty was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 31. "I had three young children," he said. "It was not the time to fold my deck."

He had multiple options, but his oncologist in Morristown, N.J., knew about the outstanding reputation of oncologist James O. Armitage, M.D., who started UNMC's bone marrow transplant program in 1983. The only knowledge Aresty had of Nebraska was that his brother, Jeffrey, was a 1980 graduate of the UNMC College of Pharmacy.

But, the ability to connect a medical provider's name with the center's stellar reputation sealed the deal, Aresty said.

"You will always be our hero," Aresty's wife, Patti, said recently to the oncologist whose name brought them to Omaha. "We come here and know we'll get the best care."

That's why they returned in 2006 after a blood test confirmed Aresty had hepatitis C. It's also why they refer friends and family.

"My physician tells me to call him at home, on his cell or his pager -- and he means it," Aresty said. "Where else do you have that kind of relationship?"

Two decades after being diagnosed with, and treated for, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, UNMC clinicians say research advances now indicate Aresty had a rare form of Hodgkin's disease. Sadly, patients treated for Hodgkin's disease at that time died.

"I'm thankful to be a survivor," he said. "We will always be grateful to UNMC."