A courageous battle

It’s hard to find someone who has not been touched by cancer. Each year, more than 33,000 patients are cared for at the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, the only Comprehensive Cancer in Wisconsin as designated by the National Cancer Institute. Learn how some of these remarkable patients fight for their life.

Portrait of Jack Pankratz
CancerOne more day with Dad? How about 1,800?
Siblings Mary Jo and Joe Pankratz are incredibly grateful for the extra time they got to spend with their father, Jack. They also participate in a new UW Health program designed to catch pancreatic cancer in certain people before it becomes deadly.
Melissa Stucky smiling.
CancerSeeking a second opinion paid off for Melissa
To minimize her risk later in life, Melissa Stucky wanted a double mastectomy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After seeking a second opinion from UW Health Northern Illinois, she could not be happier with the medical and cosmetic results.
Kara Bercher standing over a mountain bike on a desert road
CancerCancer fuels Kara’s passion for life
In her late 30s, Kara Bercher was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affects smooth muscle tissue. She chooses not to live in fear, embracing the little joys in life, with plenty of support from her UW Health cancer care team.


Grateful for the gift of life

For those whose survival depends on receiving a new kidney, liver, pancreas, liver, heart, lung or combined organ transplant, stories of unending gratitude are incredibly inspiring. For more than 55 years, UW Health has been home to one of the nation’s leading transplant centers. Learn about some of our remarkable patients who are alive today because of innovative transplant care.

Nathan and Ann Bagget kissing their baby, Lucy, in front of a tree
Liver transplantNathan finishes medical school, thanks to liver transplant
Imagine completing medical school with a rare liver disease and undergoing three liver transplants in two years. Thanks to UW Health’s liver transplant team, this really happened for Nathan Baggett.
Dr. Arjang “Aji” Djamali and John Jartz
Kidney transplantTransplant doctor 'walks the walk' with living kidney donation
Dr. Aju Djamali, a former UW Health transplant physician who often thought of donating one of his own kidneys finally found the perfect recipient: His own patient, John Jartz. The close bond between John and Dr. Aju Djamali will always be unbreakable.
Jeff and Jennifer Livingston smiling and holding each other in a snowy setting
TransplantJeff Livingston gains a new life with his wife by his side
The word “gratitude” doesn’t begin to capture what Jeff Livingston feels to be alive. Thanks to UW Health’s Transplant Center, Jeff has survived a life-threatening infection, an artificial heart surgery, and separate heart and kidney transplants.

Heart care

Stories flowing with gratitude

Perhaps you, a friend or loved one has been touched by heart disease. You might also want to learn what you can do to prevent heart disease. At UW Health, home to many of the region’s leading cardiologists and heart surgeons, there is no shortage of stories about our remarkable patients who are incredibly grateful for their world-class care.

Dorothy Perpich standing at a scenic overlook with mountains in the background
Heart careThanks to blood-pump devices, Dorothy overcomes setbacks — and relishes every day
Diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, Dorothy Perpich had one last chance to live. It came in the form of a battery-powered pump implanted by UW Health’s heart failure team.
Holly Herlitzke underwent a Ross Procedure surgery at UW Health to replace her aortic valve.
Heart careLong-lasting heart valve replacement
Diagnosed with a defective aortic valve in her heart, Holly Herlitzke is breathing a lot easier these days, thanks to surgery performed at UW Health known as the Ross procedure.
Joe Servick had a heart attack at age 38 and has since found success with the UW Health cardiac rehabilitation team
Heart careThrough treatment and beyond, UW Health is here for you
At the age of 38, Joe had a heart attack. He had emergency treatment at UW Health. That treatment and the support he received through our cardiac rehabilitation program gave him a new lease on life.


Life-enhancing stories

No one wants to be sidelined from enjoying their ability to move freely without pain. Home to one of the nation’s highest-ranking orthopedic centers, UW Health loves helping patients like these who need a knee or hip replacement or other bone, muscle or joint treatment to improve their quality of life.

Knee replacement patient Susan Cowles
OrthopedicsKnee replacement surgery brings Susan full circle
Nearly six decades after first receiving care at UW, Susan's journey came full circle when she returned for a knee replacement procedure.
Greg Converse next to his bicycle
OrthopedicsKnee replacement surgery helps Greg enjoy life again
Both of Greg Converse’s knees needed replacement once he reached his late 50s. Today, he has resumed the active lifestyle he was badly missing, thanks to UW Health’s orthopedic surgery team.
Rob Zaleski walking down a dirt path in the autumn
OrthopedicsTwo new hips = One happy man
Longtime Madison journalist Rob Zaleski still can’t believe how good he feels after having both of his hips replaced at age 73. On a 10-point scale, he gives UW Health’s orthopedic surgery team a “10” and rates his pain level at zero.

Brain and spine

Saving lives; reducing pain

Life is on the line when someone has a stroke, aneurysm or brain tumor. Other people may have epileptic seizures that may not respond to conventional treatment. Home to nationally recognized neurology and neurosurgery programs, UW Health is where patients turn for help after being told by others that nothing can be done. Hear some of these amazing stories.

Nicole, Evelyn and Michael Smithback family portrait
Brain and spineRecovery from head injury leaves Michael grateful
After suffering a highly traumatic head injury, Michael Smithback came home from the hospital just 19 days after his wife, Nicole, thought she might never see him alive again. The Smithbacks are eternally grateful to UW Health’s neurosurgery team for saving Michael.
Emily Miller, right, with stroke neurologist Dr. Erik Tarula.
Brain and spineA stroke at age 28
Strokes can happen to young people too. An undiagnosed hole in Emily Miller’s heart allowed a blood clot to travel to her brain and cause a stroke that was successfully treated at UW Health.
Jim and Michelle Schmaling standing outside on a fall day
Brain and spineSeeing stroke symptoms, spouse’s 911 call saved Jim’s life
Jim’s Schmalling’s wife Michelle called 911 as soon as her husband exhibited stroke symptoms while they were out walking. Her prompt 911 call and UW Health’s stroke team helped save Jim’s life, allowing them to celebrate their 50th anniversary together.

Weight loss (Bariatric) surgery

Changing lives

Obesity is a complicated, progressive disease caused by a wide variety of factors. The disease is associated with numerous health conditions, including diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, liver disease and joint problems, and is life-threatening. The Medical and Surgical Weight Management Program at UW Health is here to help with surgical and nonsurgical options.

More patient stories