Elizabeth Larson Steele
"I've been through so much. I feel stronger and I feel different. God has given me an opportunity to see life in a different way and to appreciate things and to serve others, to help other people."
- Wanda Pagan-Diaz
Elizabeth Larson Steele underwent bone marrow transplant at UW Hospital and Clinics after talking with Dr. Walter Longo. Here's her story.
"I was a young woman in my 20s, living a great life in Denver, Colorado. I had a dream job at a public relations firm, where I was involved with numerous glamorous and fun projects.
"I began noticing my energy was waning and I just couldn't get enough sleep. On November 9, 1985, at the urging of my gynecologist, I gave some blood results she took at the beginning of the week to my boss' husband, who was chief of staff at Denver General Hospital. It was determined I had acute mylegenous leukemia.
"It took a while to get in remission. My doctor in Denver, who was great, reluctantly discussed a bone marrow transplant with me. He had sent 11 patients to get them done elsewhere - the transplant wasn't available in Colorado - and nine of them died as a result of the transplant. Two returned home to die.
"Once in remission, I moved back to Madison to live with my parents while recuperating. When I found I started losing my remission, my doctor encouraged me to make an appointment with Dr. Walter Longo to explore transplant. I went in determined that I would not have a transplant, especially after what my Denver doctor shared.
"When my parents and I walked out of the meeting, we were all convinced a transplant was the way to go. My four siblings were all tested, and my youngest sister and best friend, Ann, was almost an identical match. The rest, they say, was history.
"There were plenty of rough times during the transplant and recovery, but it was successful. Now, 28 years later, I have so much to celebrate. I've met and love eight nieces and nephews I would never have know if I didn't make it. I have enjoyed so many fun times with my family, who helped me through my illness at every step.
"I was reacquainted with and married the love of my life, a man I met at age 23. And, ironically, I am now employed by University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, where I am the marketing consultant for their Blood and Marrow and Solid Organ Transplant program!"