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Battling Leukemia - Alex's Story

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Posted 3/18/2014

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Alex Stowe was your typical teenager. He enjoyed watching sports -- especially the New York Yankees - liked hanging out with friends and going to school at Creighton Prep. But the summer before Alex's senior year -- he was just starting to look at colleges -- everything changed. "This just kind of came out of nowhere and interrupted all that," said Alex. Alex's mom, Lu Anne Pane, remembers that summer all too well. "Alex wasn't feeling well," said Pane. "He kept complaining his bones were aching and his cheeks hurt." After taking her son to the doctor, Lu Anne's worst fears as a mother were confirmed. "He came in and said 'He has cancer.' I said 'Cancer? How can he have cancer?' He said 'He has leukemia.'" Pane initially took her son to a different hospital in Omaha. But at the urging of a friend she had him transferred. "We had an appointment with Dr. Bruce Gordon," said Pane. We asked a few questions and immediately discovered yes, this is the place we needed to be." But the intensive rounds of chemotherapy turned out to be some of the least of Alex's troubles during his seven months in the hospital. He developed a yeast infection in his lungs that almost took his life. "We got a call at midnight saying 'Lu Anne you need to come to the hospital, he's really sick,'" said Pane. "And you can hear him in the background saying 'Mom, please come.'" Despite the struggles Alex faced during his treatment, both he and his mom agreed the care he received here was what allowed them to get through it. "It was the best care I could have asked for," said Alex. "Dr. Gordon was an absolutely excellent doctor. He was upfront and honest with me, while staying upbeat about things. He was like there was nothing we couldn't deal with. It was something we were going to beat and it was going to happen." Alex also singled out the nursing staff during his stay. "They almost became like a second family," said Alex. "When you can't really leave your room you have to talk to anybody and they were just so understanding and so nice about everything. It was fantastic." OHSCU nurse Lindsay Draft says she remembers Alex and his family like they were here yesterday. "I told him two things when he first got here," said Draft. "The first was to make sure he had unlimited texting on his cell phone and the other was about playing the cancer card. As our relationship developed and he wanted something I'd tell him 'Now is when you pull the cancer card.'" "Not very many people get to wake up and kill cancer," said Draft. "We're kind of like the superheroes of the nursing world. I go into a building every day where miracles are happening. And that is exciting." Pane echoes those sentiments. "The experience of those seven months was unlike anything I've ever experienced. The rapport you can build with the people in this hospital -- I didn't feel that at the first place." Alex recently celebrated five years of being cancer free. He will graduate in May from UNO and will start applying to law school this fall. "I want to sincerely say 'thank you' to everyone at The Nebraska Medical Center for everything they've done," said Alex. "It was fantastic. It was a horrible experience and they helped me through it." Alex's mom couldn't agree more. "The care that he got -- it was extraordinary." For more information on cancer treatment call 1-800-922-0000 or visit www.NebraskaMed.com.