Fall 2022
Gratefully Yours

Victory lap

Steve Buechler with the two units of umbilical cord blood, from babies he affectionately dubbed Ralph and Gwen, that saved his life

To my outstanding transplant team,

For most of my life, doctors didn’t take me seriously because I never had anything serious to treat. Sore throats and sprained ankles were pretty mundane. 

Leukemia was different. Your dedication, expertise, skill, compassion, and wisdom were way beyond anything I had encountered, and I will never forget it.

Dr. [Nelli] Bejanyan, you guided me through a difficult decision and gave me the confidence to choose transplantation. Afterward, your attentive care and rapid response to every complication gave me the smoothest possible recovery.

Cassie Johnson, you were a splendid nurse who quietly conveyed through your daily actions that “we got this, we do this all the time, and we’re good at what we do.”

Sasha Skendzel, you brought a perfect blend of empathy, energy, and expertise to every consultation, and I always felt inspired after your visits.

Dr. [Shernan] Holtan, your upbeat bedside manner was incredibly reassuring. You’re a superb clinician, a brilliant researcher, and the only doctor I know who can squat lift me

Dr. Bejanyan, I’ll always remember that summer fundraiser on a sun-kissed July morning. After my talk, we shared a 40-minute conversation while strolling around Lake Nokomis. Such a simple gesture. But it felt like a victory lap with the person who saved my life. That walk may have been routine for you, but it was transcendent for me. 

I know a health psychologist who claims that transplant doctors and nurses are the most compassionate medical specialists. There’s also evidence that female practitioners are especially empathic and emotionally attuned to their patients. So I had the best of all possible worlds, and I am profoundly grateful for that.

There is a visceral part of me that wants to shadow you, sing your praises, and shower you with rose petals. But that would be downright creepy.

So I am using my survivorship to pay it forward as a multifaceted volunteer in the cancer community. It’s the best way I can honor all you did for me.

– Steve Buechler, who has included a gift to the M Health Fairview blood and marrow transplant program in his trust in gratitude for his lifesaving care, had a double cord blood stem cell transplant in 2016. Read more of his story.