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Patient Stories

Our best measure of success is the health of our patients. On this page, you'll find stories of inspiration and hope from some of our cancer survivors.

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Patient Story

CAR T-Cell Therapy Helps Lymphoma Survivor Beat Cancer Again

In her decades serving and advocating for Latinos and other communities of color in the Kansas City area, CiCi Rojas has worked tirelessly. She has held roles as CEO and president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, vice presi...

Patient Story

A Curious Course to an Esophageal Cancer Diagnosis

Josh Mullin expected to mark his 40th birthday with the typical trappings: a few friends, cake, a celebratory drink. Instead, he began his 41st year with the worst birthday present anyone can get: a cancer diagnosis. Josh jokes about it now, cancer-f...

Patient Story

Living in Abundance After Breast Cancer

It was 3 a.m., and Angela Grojean couldn’t sleep. As she lay in the darkness of her bedroom, a thought popped into her head, seemingly from nowhere. “For some reason, I just thought, ‘I haven’t done a breast self-exam for a long time. Maybe I should...

Patient Story

Metastatic Colon Cancer Patient Saved by Aggressive Treatment

Laura Perez, 20, is a gentle soul with a special connection to animals. This spring, she found an injured fawn on the side of the road near her home in Kansas City, Kansas. She nursed it back to health, and now the young doe, named Petunia, frolics w...

Patient Story

Doubling Down on Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

At age 40, Wendy Denham began annual breast cancer screenings. She had 2 important reasons: a family history of breast cancer and a personal history of dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue not only increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, it al...

Patient Story

Peace Crane Symbolizes a Turning Point for Breast Cancer Survivor

According to Japanese lore, cranes signify good health and longevity by living 1,000 years. The legend is that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted one wish. This tradition is what first led architect-turned-artist Denise DiPiazzo to T...

Patient Story

Leukemia Diagnosis During Pregnancy

Tytan Mayer just might be a hero. Still shy of his first birthday, he has big blue eyes and a cuddly body that may seem more sweet and gentle than strong. But his family knows Tytan helped save his mother’s life before he was even born. In December 2...

Patient Story

Doctor Becomes a Breast Cancer Survivor

Jane Broxterman, MD, is an internal medicine physician at The University of Kansas Health System. About half of her patients are breast cancer survivors and women living with metastatic cancer. She has encouraged women through their darkest hours wit...

Patient Story

Veteran Triumphs Over Leukemia Diagnosis

The words are a familiar sentiment among service men and women. They gave Col. Edward “Butch” Brennan strength not only during his 24 years as an Army infantryman, but also during the greatest battle of his life – against acute myeloid leukemia. Butc...

Patient Story

Pilot Beats Rare, Aggressive Blood Cancer

Born and raised in Kansas, Capt. Anthony Quirarte earned an engineering degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy. His Air Force job as a test pilot quickly ignited a passion for airplanes and aviation. “I was testing aircraft for students and realized...

Patient Story

Surviving Uterine and Ovarian Cancers

At age 32, Mandy Garavaglia and her husband, Johnny, hoped to conceive a second child through in vitro fertilization. A local reproductive clinic had helped the couple get pregnant with their daughter, Stella. During the embryo implantation procedure...

Patient Story

Sarcoma Survivor Rocks Life After Amputation

It was July 22, 2006, and Blackpool Lights, the Kansas City indie rock band, was about to take the stage at the Udo Music Festival in Izumi-Ootsu, Japan. The festival was a 2-day extravaganza featuring bands such as KISS, Alice in Chains and The Pret...

Patient Story

Blood Cancer Survivors Give Back

Several members of The University of Kansas Cancer Center blood cancer care team bring unique perspective to their roles. They know what it’s like to be a patient because each was once a patient here herself. Their experiences shaped their futures. A...

Patient Story

Blood Cancer Survivor Meets Lifesaving Bone Marrow Donor

They aren’t related, but are indeed linked by blood. One man is Garry Wingett of Kansas City, a husband, father, grandfather, fisherman and cancer survivor. The other is Terrell Fenner, the Texas lawyer whose bone marrow donation saved Garry’s life....

Patient Story

Bone Marrow Transplants Helps Beat Acute Myeloid Leukemia

After a lifetime of construction work, Don Connet, 70, needed a new knee. Before surgery, he had to pass a physical at his local hospital in Manhattan, Kansas. But the lab results revealed a low white blood cell count. He was told a virus can reduce...

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