Back home again in Indiana

She grew up in Indiana and moved to California with her husband. Now Kymberli DeWitt is back home again and a patient at IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

Four years ago when Kymberli DeWitt was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) she was undergoing treatment for severe ulcerative colitis.

She was living in California at the time with her husband of 26 years, Scott. At a hospital close to home, she underwent a proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, or j-pouch surgery. The procedure surgically creates an internal reservoir from the small intestine.

It was during that procedure that her labs came back questionable and doctors diagnosed her with MDS. The conditions occur when blood-forming cells in the bone marrow become abnormal. She received a stem cell transplant in California. When the transplant began to fail she developed leukemia and received a “touch up transplant” again in California.

A native of Anderson, Ind. DeWitt graduated from the former Highland High School and was a member of the Marching Scots. When her husband took a job transfer, they decided to move back to Indiana – closer to her family and also close to IU Health. The couple has three children Danielle Fowler, 31, Nicolas Eicks, 30, Victoria DeWitt, 25.

“Truthfully, we needed a job near a transplant facility. Facilities like IU Health aren’t everywhere,” said DeWitt. Since March she has been coming to IU Health for transfusions to help control complications of aplasia, a bone marrow disorder characterized by a decline of red blood cells. The condition manifests in severe bruising. She is under the care of IU Health oncologist/hematologist Dr. Jennifer Schwartz. “It’s such a difference here – so much more one-on-one time with the nurses and it’s really a personal approach,” she said.

DeWitt smiles as she talks about her condition and the road back to Indiana. Long sleeves and pants hide the bruises. She is upbeat and tells about her hobbies – gardening, reading, and exploring new places with her husband.

“I’ve always worn makeup and a smile because I want to put my best foot forward, even on the worst days,” said DeWitt. “A good friend often sends me a text that says, ‘you’ve got this,’ and really I believe I do. I believe in the power of being positive.”