Don’t ever let the music die

When her oldest sister died of breast cancer, Rita Woods took to heart her sister’s wish – don’t ever let the music die.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist, tfender1@iuhealth.org

There were 15 of them – fifteen kids born to George and Fannie Shouse. They grew up in the Apostolic Church in Terre Haute where their dad served as a pastor.

Rita Woods credits the church with introducing her family to music. “My family is a singing family. It’s our language that we learned early on in life,” said Woods, who is in the care of IU Health gastroenterologist Dr. Matthew Bohm. She’s had two surgeries for Crohn’s disease and comes twice a week to IU Health for infusions.

It was when she was battling her own health problems that her oldest sister Janice Warren became diagnosed with breast cancer. She died Sept. 3, 2018.

Warren, 16 years older than Woods was more like a mother figure. In fact, Woods turned 15 on the night their mother died.

“I was just starting high school and my older sisters were in college. I was the only one brave enough to start cooking,” said Woods. “It was my sister who taught me to make dressing. She taught me her secretarial skills, how to drive, and how to love people who weren’t blood.” Warren was known for taking in people who were sick or down on their luck.

Later in life, Woods and her daughter Kimberly Janeece – named after Warren – moved in with the older sister. At that time, Warren lived in Kokomo and taught high school English. She also taught at the college level and was a leader with the Pentecostal Church children’s ministry.

She also encouraged Woods to practice music.

“I learned to play the piano and she sang while I played. I wasn’t very good but when Janice got sick I’d play songs for her and send them every day,” said Woods. “Before she died she told me to never let the music die.”

Now Woods is on a quest. She wants to record a song in her sister’s memory.

“There are 11 of us left now and we’re all spread out – some in Terre Haute, some in Virginia Beach, some in Charlotte, N.C. My hope is that we can get together at Thanksgiving and make music for Janice,” said Woods. “We are her mouthpiece. We have to keep her memory alive and the way to do that is to never let the music die.”

“If it has hooves, it’s a horse, not a zebra” – Pancreatitis is not one dimensional

A Northwood, Ohio woman wasn’t satisfied with the answers she received about her chronic pancreatitis. So she dug deeper and turned to IU Health for treatment.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist tfender1@iuhealth.org

It was just before Mother’s Day 2016 when Amanda Baerwaldt experienced the first bout of what would later be diagnosed as chronic pancreatitis.

“It was as if someone had thrown a switch in my body that unleashed the most excruciating pain of my life,” said Baerwaldt, 36. “I am no stranger to pain, I played roller derby and had un-medicated childbirth with both my girls – one of which was born at home.”

This was different. Like a phantom in the night, it left and then it returned a couple weeks later. After awhile, the pain became more intense and lasted for longer periods.

“I chalked it up to my obesity, poor food choices, and stress. I didn’t see a gastroenterologist until March 2017 because I was so embarrassed about my weight,” said Baerwaldt. Initial answers were vague. But after one of her most severe episodes she was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital – it was the first of many hospital stays for attacks of chronic pancreatitis.

“This would continue to happen anywhere from two to seven weeks throughout 2017, resulting in sometimes week-long hospital stays. I lost official count but I believe I had ten hospitalizations for Idiopathic Recurrent Acute Pancreatitis (IRAP) and had gone through every test in the book to determine why,” said Baerwaldt. There was one test she was pushing hard for – ERCP with Sphincterotomy. The complex procedure involves the cutting of the biliary sphincter and is typically carried out during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

“As I started researching my symptoms and risk factors for varying illnesses associated with acute pancreatitis, reading the description of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD) hit home for me. After my third hospitalization, the gastroenterologist who was rounding brought it up as a definite possibility. Then I saw an Integrative Medical Doctor who agreed,” said Baerwaldt, who has been married to her husband Eric for 11 years.

The challenge was finding a doctor who would perform the test. One of her early doctors told her: “If it has hooves, it’s a horse not a zebra” suggesting that Baerwaldt’s research was not necessarily the answer to her diagnosis.

But she was determined to find relief.

As she continued to research her options, she took up rowing to help her physical and emotional wellbeing. She started a Facebook group named “The rowing pancreas.”

In one post she wrote: “This is chronic pancreas disease as a mother. I am exhausted, I’m nauseous, and I’m in pain. My bones hurt, my eyes are barely open. But we’re at the zoo because I have some alone time with my daughter and that’s what she wanted.”

The disease changed her from an active parent enjoying daily trips to parks, play dates with friends and girls’ nights out, to a mother who lived in fear that something would happen to her children if she experienced an attack away from home. She became depressed and isolated. By December of 2017, just nine months from her first documented attack she had dropped about 75 pounds.

As she began researching hospitals and providers that would support her choice for an ERCP she ran across IU Health’s Dr. Jeffrey Easler, a gastroenterologist.

“I drive four hours to see Dr. Easler because I was unheard by other doctors. I present differently. Doctors looked for other things and I started my own research,” said Bearwaldt. “Dr. Easler was the first doctor to validate my feelings and felt confident I’d pull through the procedure just fine.” The procedure was completed at IU Health on Jan. 3, 2018.

On September 14th, Dr. Easler will take part in a free patient/caregiver education symposium at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Carmel. The event will take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include a light breakfast and lunch. The Indiana Chapter of the National Pancreas Foundation sponsors the event.

Bearwaldt knows her diagnosis will always be part of her life but she’s learned about managing the disease and her care.

‘My advice to others is to learn as much as you can independently about your disease and find a doctor who will listen to you.”

Photo by Bergen Howlett Photography.

Reunion brings LifeLine patient face-to-face with crew members

They found her in severe respiratory failure and Lydia Hutchison and Jeremy Harris helped stabilize Breigh Maples. Recently, she got to thank them for their service.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist, tfender1@iuhealth.org

There were tears. There were hugs. There may have been more tears, but Breigh Maples had practiced and anticipated this special moment for days. She was meeting the IU Health LifeLine crew members that helped save her life.

It was Nov. 14, 2018 when Maples’ parents Mike and Andrea Maples thought they were losing their daughter and her then boyfriend Matt Chaney thought he was losing the love of his life. Just two days earlier she was admitted to a hospital near her Liberty, Ind. home. She was weak, tired, short of breath, and coughing up blood.

“They were at a loss and not sure what to do so they contacted LifeLine,” said Andrea Maples. When LifeLine medic Jeremy Harris and nurse Lydia Hutchison arrived at the hospital Maples was in severe respiratory failure.

“Lydia was the real hero,” said Harris. The former ICU nurse walked in and took over. Hutchison said she did what she is trained to do. “I try to make sure I meet the patient’s needs by acting quickly and bringing comfort to a family on what might be their worst day.”

Hutchison has been with LifeLine for six years; Harris has been with LifeLine for nearly five years.

Maples, a 2011 graduate of Lincoln High School in Cambridge City, Ind. was intubated and transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital. She spent eight days on life support and in a medically induced coma.

“I got down on my knees and prayed next to Breigh every night and kept telling her not to give up, keep fighting and that I will not leave her side. I reminded her every day how strong, beautiful and brave she was and how much I loved her,” said Chaney. He and Maples met seven years ago playing on the same co-ed softball team. They became best friends and started dating a year later.

Andrea Maples told her daughter that Chaney cried every day when she was in the hospital and was worried sick about her. He operated on little to eat and limited sleep. “He wanted to sit with me the entire time and keep eyes on me and warned anyone that wanted to go in the room to wash their hands and put a mask on,” said Maples. Chaney knew then that he wanted Breigh to become his wife. But he waited patiently for her body to heal.

Two days after being admitted to Methodist Hospital, at the age of 25, Maples was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome. The pulmonary-renal syndrome is a group of acute illnesses involving the kidneys and lungs. It causes inflammation of the blood vessels in the kidneys that help filter extra water and blood. It can also cause bleeding in the lungs.

The day of her diagnosis Maples began chemotherapy. “LifeLine crew members saved me during my transfer to Methodist Hospital, but Matt’s been my first responder for many years. He took me to my chemo treatments, waited on me hand and foot, got me my meds, picked me up out of bed and carried me to ER. I don’t know what I would do without him,” said Maples.

She continues with monthly chemotherapy and has been on steroids for eight months. She in the care of a team of doctors at IU Health including Dr. Sarah Perryman, a rheumatologist, Dr. Rajat Kapoor, a pulmonologist, Dr. Michael Burk, who specializes in internal medicine and pulmonary disease, and Dr. Damien Patel who specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine.

The autoimmune disease caused hemorrhaging in her lungs and she spent 18 days in ICU before she could build up enough strength to begin physical and occupational therapy. She has relapsed four times since her initial diagnosis and has been hospitalized at IU Health each time.

But she is alive.

“I have about two good days a week,” said Maples. It was on one of her best days when she recently met Hutchison and Harris at the LifeLine base in New Castle. The meeting was the culmination of a yearlong journey to diagnosis and recovery.

Andrea Maples only knew the first name of the nurse who flew to her daughter’s aid. Mike Maples works just up the road from the LifeLine base so Maples stopped in one day and asked if there was a nurse named “Lydia” on the crew.

“She and Jeremy were both here and I told them that Breigh wanted to meet them and thank them,” said Maples. The LifeLine crew members only had Breigh in their care for 30 minutes. They were happy to learn she was doing well.

“I have to tell you how thankful I am,” said Maples. “A lot of people in your profession don’t get the pat on the back they deserve.”

As they exchanged hugs and presented Maples with gifts of flowers and a LifeLine patch, t-shirt, and coffee mug, Hutchison and Harris heard updates of Maples’ life. Chaney, the man who has stood by her side throughout her healing, proposed to her on December 23. Maples joked about inviting Hutchinson and Harris to the wedding.

As the sun went down over the rural landing field, the LifeLine helicopter served as a backdrop for photos of Chaney, Maples, her sister Bayleigh, and her parents. This time there was laughter rather than tears.

“I felt like their wings were wings of an angel and they swooped in when she needed them most,” said Andrea Maples. “Now Breigh’s living the life where she doesn’t have to take a vacation from because every day is a vacation.”

IU Health Foundation COO Receives International Industry Honor

Strong. Ambitious. Driven.

Human.

For Laura Pickett, chief operating officer for IU Health Foundation, her humanity is at the core of her drive to excel within the realm of health care philanthropy.

“My call to leadership, passion for operations and serving within an Academic Medical Center are driven by personal health care experiences,” says Pickett. “Not only do I see the fruit of our work, I’ve experienced it personally in life-changing ways.”

The work is life-changing, but also career-changing. Pickett’s dedication and compassion have caught the attention of many leaders in health care philanthropy, and now she’s receiving professional recognition at an international level. The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) announced Pickett was selected as one of their 2019 AHP 40 Under 40.

The honor is a prestigious one—AHP is considered the leading industry organization for health care philanthropy professionals, with 4,500 members representing 2.200 healthcare facilities, not just in the U.S., but around the world.

And this isn’t the first time Pickett has found herself and her meaningful work in the spotlight. She was nominated in 2016 by senior leadership to participate in the Indiana Healthcare Leadership Academy, a program that guides, trains and strengthens the next generation of leaders preparing to take the reins in an ever-evolving industry. In 2017, she was recognized as Goodwill Industries International Volunteer Board Leader of the year.

The staff and leadership of IU Health Foundation congratulate Pickett on her most recent honor, and look forward to the impact she is sure to have on our industry, our system, and most importantly, on our patients.

As for Pickett’s vision for the future, it’s simple: “To answer the call of leadership to meet our opportunities and address challenges. I want the next 30 years of my career to positively impact the health of our current generation and future generations.”

Learn more about Pickett’s accomplishments and inspiration at www.ahp.org/member-center/awards-and-scholarships/40-under-40/2019-winners/laura-pickett.

Transplant helping hands – One step ahead

Chelsea Hamilton is a surgical technologist at IU Health University Hospital. When she’s in the OR, she tries to stay one step ahead of the surgeons – thinking of their needs.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist, tfender1@iuhealth.org

The transplant surgeons are systematic. Chelsea Hamilton has learned that sometimes it’s the patient that changes up a procedure.

Like a well-rehearsed dance, she methodically sets up the OR, counts the instruments, hands them to the tending surgeon, and then recounts the instruments at the close of the surgery. She started her clinicals at IU Health three years ago, worked in general surgery and then moved to transplant as a surgical technologist.

“Between the main attending surgeons there are a few differences, but for the most part they perform the surgeries the same. There may be something a little different about the patient’s anatomy but you get used to working with the same team,” said Hamilton. Her focus is on assisting in liver, kidney and multivisceral transplant surgeries.

The most challenging part of her role is the long hours and uncertainty of the call. She works on a six-week schedule with 10 off days. During those six weeks she can get a call at any time of the day or night.

“Kidney transplants are generally scheduled ahead so I could come in for a 7:30 a.m. surgery and then come back that night if there is an organ procurement and we schedule another surgery,” said Hamilton. Many of the surgeries can last hours.

“I really just go with the flow. If I’m in the grocery store line and I get the call, I go. I usually tell my friends, ‘I’ll make plans but I may need to cancel at the last minute,’” said Hamilton. When she’s not working, she’s hanging out with her dogs, going to dinner with friends, or enjoying a fire in her backyard pit.

What does she like best about her role in transplant?

“I love it because we know we are giving patients the gift of life.”

Five months after diagnosis professional triathlete back at start line

This summer a Dayton, Ohio resident and professional athlete celebrates a milestone birthday by getting the news that she is cancer free.

By T.J. Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It was a routine check up.

Nicole “Nickie” Luse was preparing to leave town headed to Hawaii for a couple months of training. The last thing on her mind was breast cancer. But when her gynecologist felt a lump, on that Tuesday in January of 2018, she ordered a mammogram and an ultrasound.

Luse had just turned 38 and was spending her time traveling the country (and out of the country) as a professional triathlete. But on Feb. 1 she learned she had breast cancer. It was through a mutual friend of her coach that she was referred to IU Health Simon Cancer Center and oncologist Dr. Kathy Miller and surgeon Dr. Samilia Obeng-Gyasi (whom she calls “Dr. Sam”). She was also in the care of nurse navigator Meghan McWhirter and physician assistant Betsy Simpson.

“Nickie is a fantastic person. Her whole outlook on this situation was mind blowing. She was an advocate for herself from the very beginning of this process and because of that I was able to meet one of the most amazing people that I have ever met,” said McWhirter. “Nickie was never afraid to speak up and ask questions and I applaud that. I want patients to take an active role in their care and Nickie did just that. I am very thankful to have had a small part in this journey with her.”

On March 12 – a month after her diagnosis – she received a bilateral mastectomy at IU Health West.

“Most people in my situation wouldn’t have opted for this surgery. But given my lifestyle as an active athlete, I thought it was the best option,” said Luse. Months of physical therapy followed when she developed axillary web syndrome (AWS). Also known as “cording” the condition sometimes develops as a side effect to sentinel lymph node biopsy. “I guess because I have a small frame, it’s a condition that developed where basically it decreased my arm movement and I could feel a pull,” said Luse.

Raised in Dayton, Ohio, Luse focused her athletic skills on soccer from the age of Kindergarten. Her dad, Charlie was one of her early coaches. Her mother fought pancreatic cancer for 22 months and died in 2015. Her paternal grandmother also had pancreatic cancer. Lucas has one sister Megan Fokerth who went with her to every appointment.

With no family history of breast cancer they decided to go through genetic testing. The tests came out negative and Luse moved forward saying “it was just a flip of the coin.”

In college at the University of Cincinnati she pursued a degree in nursing and played on the college women’s soccer team. After working for some time in ICU and ER, she began working in a running store.

“I started running as an amateur athlete and eventually qualified for a race as a professional athlete,” said Luse. She’s now in her fifth season of triathlons – swimming, biking, and running. Last year she raced in New Zealand and has also raced in Puerto Rico but the majority of her competitions are in the east and west.

“I love competing and pushing my body and I love the people I meet,” said Luse. “And to think – I got connected to IU Health through racing.” After surgery she exercised moderately – walking to the car, the mailbox and then around the block.

“Five months to the date of surgery I was back the start line,” said Luse, who is now cancer free. “I can’t say enough about the team approach my nurse navigator, physician assistant, and doctors. They were awesome,” said Luse. “Dr. Miller smiles, shakes your hand and the energy in the room changes. She brings calmness, and Dr. Sam was very mater of fact and explained things methodically. I am very thankful I chose IU Health.”

There’s not a dull moment with this patient

Her imagination is captivating and entertaining. Sandra Cook is an artist and a doll collector who finds peace through creativity as she undergoes cancer treatment.

By T.J. Banes, Senior Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email: tfender1@iuhealth.org.

Some feel they are in the presence of the finest southern hospitality. Others feel as though they are sipping tea with a British monarch. Danny Cook says it is his wife’s eyes that first caught his attention. But for many, it’s her voice.

Nearly 20 years ago, when her facial bones began disintegrating, Sandra Cook underwent reconstructive surgery. The complex procedure required her to basically relearn to talk. She’s been told she has a southern accent and she’s also been told she has a British dialect.

She takes it all in stride as she chats about her unique hobby – creating life-like scenes in miniature scale. Like portraits from her imagination she carefully arranges every detail inside the rooms of dollhouses. She has 32 dollhouses to be exact. The largest is seven feet long, and three feet wide.

The houses – some metal and some wooden – are all lined up around rooms inside her Kokomo home where she and Danny raised their six children. The couple met at a picnic. This month marks their 36th wedding anniversary. He’s the same man who once sang “It’s a Wonderful Life” to his bride while they were on a cruise.

As she talks about that life outside the hospital, her husband is right by her side. In February Sandra Cook was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“I’ve been as healthy as a rock. When I was a baby both my brothers got scarlet fever, mumps and measles and I never got any of it,” said Cook, who has five siblings.

In the care of IU Health oncologist Dr. Amikar Sehdev, Cook comes every two weeks for chemotherapy. To pass the time she draws portraits – also of people from her imagination. She shows a photograph of a curly headed dark-haired girl and talks about the beginnings of her interest in art.

“I’ve drawn since I was five. I always had a piece of paper and pencil in my hand,” said Cook. “I never had proper training but I always liked to draw. It’s a comfort to me. It’s peace and quiet. With so many brothers and sisters you had to find your quiet spot so you could have refuge.”

She never really has a sketch in mind when she starts drawing portraits – many of women – wearing hats, some with their hair in pigtails – and each one with a unique facial expression. “I never know what I’m going to draw. My hands just takes off – it’s like doing a scene for my dollhouse – it just happens.”

She got her first dollhouse at the age of nine and she remembers her dad assembling it at Christmas. “I think I really started loving dolls when my grandmother gave me a 19-inch Shirley Temple doll. I could only play with it on special occasions, “ said Cook.

Her dollhouse hobby took off when she and Danny got married. She spends hours arranging scenes – room by room. There’s the snapshot of four children standing on the couch looking out the window, the one of a chef arranging his food at the dining table, one of a child standing next to a snowman, a mother and father sitting on the front porch – their son wearing a fire hat and playing with a fire truck, their daughter playing with a baby doll. There are special occasions – a first date – and seasonal celebrations – a couple embracing on Valentine’s Day and a family opening Christmas gifts in front of a decorated tree. All of the dollhouses are lighted. She even decorates the dollhouses inside the dollhouses.

“I’d say with six kids, 11 grandkids and two great grandkids you see a lot of life. Some of my scenes are pulled from those experiences like a baby’s first bath or Mother’s Day where breakfast is served in bed,” said Cook. She estimates she has 300 miniature dolls; many are vintage Huckle dolls, made of rubber and created to be anatomically correct. They are completely poseable and look like real people from a distance, said Cook. She also has a little fun with some of the scenes. When her sister gave her a Hillary Clinton doll she designed a scene showing the former Presidential nominee campaigning in the living room of one of the dollhouses.

“It’s definitely a way to relax and forget about my cares,” said Cook. “When I see a dollhouse I see all the things in life that go through a home – not just the furniture and curtains – but the life that is lived.”

Patient wants to get back in the pool and back to school

Diagnosed with Aplastic anemia, Rebecca Richardson’s life has slowed down. A competitive swimmer, she’s hoping to build herself back up enough so she can get back to her favorite exercise.

By T.J. Banes, Senior Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email: tfender1@iuhealth.org

For ten years, Rebecca Richardson has been in the pool – competing in the breaststroke and relays. It’s a sport she loves.

When she was diagnosed five years ago with Aplastic anemia, she continued to power through. The condition occurs when the bone marrow doesn’t produce an adequate amount of blood cells. It can cause fatigue, a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding.

For a time, Richardson said her symptoms subsided but then they returned in December of 2018.

Adopted from China at the age of nine months, Richardson said her medical records were inadequate. She was unaware of any complications. So her parents Bret and Tamara Richardson advocated for testing until they had a diagnosis.

“I also have Hepatitis B so we think that triggered the anemia. I first started on meds to decrease the virus in my blood. Then we started treatments for the anemia,” said Richardson. Under the care of IU Health Dr. Robert Nelson she started receiving blood and platelet transfusions.

“Apparently it’s really rare. My doctor told me six out of a million in the U.S. have it but 12 out of a million in China have it,” said Richardson. The Aplastic anemia International Foundation reports the autoimmune disease can affect people of any age, regardless of race or gender. It also appears more often in Asian Americans. Each year between 600 and 900 people in the U.S. are diagnosed.

Even though she had days when her energy levels were low, Richardson loved swimming and completed her career on the Varsity team at Noblesville High School. She graduated in 2018 and began the fall semester at IUPUI. She plans to major in computer science and integrate it into another subject.

“When I relapsed it came back with full force so now I’m taking a break,” said Richardson. She passes the time playing with her golden retriever and mini dachshund.

“Family time is really important to me. We’re all really close,” said Richardson. She has two older sisters and enjoys spending time with her niece and nephew. “I can’t do as much physical activity as I’d like, but I still drive. I just went on a trip to Milwaukee with a friend,” said Richardson. “So you can do the things you want to do. You just take it slower and limit yourself.”

It’s the kind of patient “good-bye” that feels great

After two bouts of testicular cancer, Stephen DeVoie recently made his last trip to IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

Just minutes before sharing their story, Stephen and Jennifer DeVoie had received an “all clear” from IU Health Simon Cancer Center oncologist Dr. Lawrence Einhorn.

It was the words that they had been waiting four years to hear.

Kim Baker has been an IU Health medical care social worker in integrated care management for the past three years. She’s known the DeVoie’s since before they were married. And she shared their happiness with them when they got their good news.

“Jennifer and Stephen went from dating, to an engagement, to marriage, and to an active lifestyle now that Stephen is better,” said Baker. “With my role as a bone marrow transplant social worker, I was able to provide continuity of care throughout their medical journey – before, during and after transplant. Simultaneously, I was able to enjoy their growth as a couple throughout their personal journey.”

It was a journey that began in the spring of 2015. Stephen felt severe pain in his left flank. As soon as Jennifer pulled into the driveway from work they drove to ER near their home in Boubonnais, Ill. – about 55 miles south of Chicago. Tests showed he had testicular cancer. He had testicular swelling the size of softball, was hospitalized for an orchiectomy, and began chemotherapy in June of 2015. He has also been diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder (CMT), a rare hereditary disease that damages nerves in the arms and legs His father also has CMT.

“I initially just thought the aches and pains were associated with the CMT,” said Stephen, 31. He and Jennifer met in October of 2013. Their first date was to a local gaming store. They knew right away they were compatible. They both love playing board and video games. They were married Dec. 23, 2017 in a private ceremony officiated by a friend.

“We have a lot of opposites that kind of mesh rather than clash,” said Jennifer. The couple bought a two-bedroom home with a fenced-in backyard and just enough room for all of Jennifer’s collectible bunnies.

Stephen is an only child; Jennifer has two older brothers. Her parents Marge and Ken Love live in Hawaii. Stephen’s parents Don and June LaVoie, along with their extended family have supported them throughout their relationship and Stephen’s diagnosis.

One of the first people they met at IU Health was Kim Baker.

“Kim is phenomenal. She was our main support. With family so far away, we depended on the staff here beyond medical support,” said Jennifer. “The nurses were fantastic.” Baker displays the couple’s wedding picture in her office and she wears beaded jewelry handmade by Jennifer – a testimony of their bond.

Stephen DeVoie first became a patient at IU Health Simon Cancer Center in the spring of 2017.

“Everything seemed calm and we thought the cancer was gone and then he started complaining of pain again,” said Jennifer. Tests showed the cancer had spread and was compromising the vena cava. Stephen had another surgery closer to home and then his oncologist referred him to IU Health and Dr. Lawrence Einhorn – known for his successful treatment of testicular cancer – germ cell tumors – using a mix of high dose chemotherapies and peripheral stem cell transplant.

“Dr. Einhorn is just easy going and obviously knows what he’s talking about. No question is too weird. He’s just great,” said Stephen.

Stephen completed his bone marrow transplant and the couple was on their way back to Illinois when their red Toyota Camry was struck by a semi on I-65. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and they weren’t even out of Indiana when they ended up back at the hospital.

“We’ve been through more together in our six years than most people have been through in decades,” said Jennifer. They hit a guardrail and walked away from their totaled car with bumps, bruises, scratches, and nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Since completing his treatments, Stephen says he feels great.

“In April of 2018 Dr. Einhorn said he didn’t want to see us again until 2019,” said Stephen, “We came back and we’ve pretty much graduated from IU Health,” said Jennifer. “It’s the kind of ‘good bye that feels great.”

–By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health. Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.