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Bone marrow transplant program celebrates patients, staff and 30-year milestone

The Bone Marrow Transplant team at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis’ Cancer Institute recently hosted a twofold celebration: Its 30th year and its soon-to-reach milestone of 1,000 bone marrow transplants.

Staff invited past recipients and their loved ones to enjoy an afternoon of celebration and socializing and more than 60 packed the 7th-floor conference room decorated for the occasion. 

“Seeing healthy patients and talking with other survivors gives me hope and optimism,” says Ronna Bailey, whose transplant was four years ago. “It’s great to come back and see the nurses and doctors who made me feel so comfortable and safe during my worst times.” 

The celebration also was a great way for BMT recipients to reconnect with other patients who underwent treatment at the same time.

Vicki Bont, whose BMT for Hodgkin’s lymphoma was 25 years ago, was unable to attend, but emailed the following update: “I have enjoyed an active and rewarding life thanks to the wonderful care and treatment at the Wichita center and Ascension Via Christi. I remember so many dedicated people including Dr. Moore, his staff and the kind nurses.” 

Associates appreciated the chance to visit with current and former patients. “The staff here is tight-knit group. We love what we do and we care about the people we serve, so it’s a great feeling to see so many healthy patients,” says Patty Bluml, the advanced practice nurse who helps coordinate the care offered by the Blood and Marrow Transplant Center of Kansas, a partnership among Ascension Via Christi, Cancer Center of Kansas and the American Red Cross. 

Program founder David B. Johnson, MD, traveled from out-of-state to celebrate alongside Bassam Mattar, MD, the program’s medical director, and fellow Cancer Center of Kansas oncologists Phu Truong, MD, Quoc Truong, MD, Seth Page, MD, and Dennis Moore Jr., MD.

“We’re celebrating 30 years of technology advancement, hard-working associates, healing advanced cancers, and of course our Kansas patients,” says Mattar, who was named medical director for the program after Dr. Johnson retired in 2005. As the celebration was wrapping up, Mattar looked around the room and said with a broad grin, “Every day is a good day, but today is an excellent day!” 

Kevin Strecker, hospital president and chief operating officer, and David Alexander, Via Christi Foundation president, were on hand to congratulate staff and patients for their accomplishments.

Keisha Humphries, Ascension Via Christi’s Oncology Services administrator, says the program is so important to everyone who has worked or been through treatment there. “Seeing everyone come back makes my heart so happy. This program is near and dear to us and everyone involved here has an important role in providing compassionate, close-to-home care for advanced cancers at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis.”


A grateful patient poses with Dr. Bassam Mattar at the event.

A survivor, 22-years out of treatment, stopped by with her family to celebrate.

Buttons for survivors designated how long they were without treatment. The dates ranged from 53 days to 22 years.

Goodies and keepsakes were given to attendees to celebrate their progress.

25-year survivor Vicki Bont shares an update with staff and patients since she was unable to attend.

(From left to right): Dr. Phu Truong, Dr. Bassam Mattar, Dr. Quoc Truong pose with program founder Dr. David Johnson.

David Alexander, Via Christi Foundation president, talks with patients about their treatment and recovery.

David Alexander and Dr. David Johnson talked about the program's success before the event ended.

About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated workaholic and weekend adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.