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Patient Stories

Every year our physicians and staff care for many patients with digestive and liver problems. We're proud to share some of their stories with you.

Gastrointestinal Cancers

View inspirational stories about people who are winning the fight against gastrointestinal cancer.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Abbie Perkovich

This Teacher Taught Her Doctors a Lesson in Courage
When Abbie Perkovich came to the University of Chicago Medicine as a young adult, she had been sidelined by inflammatory bowel disease. She met with David T. Rubin, MD, who created a comprehensive treatment plan that kept Perkovich's symptoms in remission for many years. But eventually the medications were no longer enough to keep the disease under control. Rubin and colorectal surgeon Konstantin Umanskiy, MD, recommended the surgical removal of her colon (large intestine). Perkovich agreed and, today, the fifth-grade teacher has regained her strength and active lifestyle.

Erika Kielhorn Hefke

Active Again After Crohn's Disease and Colon Cancer
Erika Kielhorn Hefke of Marquette, Mich., was diagnosed with IBD at age 15. After being treated at a local hospital, her mother brought her to see David T. Rubin, MD, and the experts at the University of Chicago Medicine IBD Center. Over the years, Rubin tailored Hefke's treatment to her unique and evolving needs. He also encouraged her to have regular colonoscopies -- a recommendation that may have saved her life. Today, Hefke works as family nurse practitioner, caring for patients with chronic illness. She also enjoys kayaking, camping, swimming and running.

Nuriya Robinson, MD

Around the World With Crohn's Disease
Determined not to let Crohn's disease stop her from pursuing her life goals, Nuriya Robinson, MD, spends several months a year working as an obstetrician/gynecologist in Africa. When she's back in the United States, she regularly attends patient education events and a support group hosted by the University of Chicago Medicine IBD Center, and seeks ongoing medical care from Sushila Dalal, MD.

Ally Bain

Raising the Bar on Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Patient advocate, spokesperson, fundraiser and law student, Ally Bain has not let inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) stand in her way. With the help of expert care from David T. Rubin, MD, and the IBD support team at the University of Chicago, Bain has been in remission for more than a decade. Her goal is to educate patients and government officials, as well as to give a voice to people with chronic conditions.

Victoria and Rick Strong

Father and Daughter Fight Through Crohn's Disease
After several years of medical treatment for Crohn's disease that offered little relief, Rick Strong turned to University of Chicago inflammatory bowel disease experts for help. Our specialists offered Strong surgical and medical options that helped control his flare-ups. When his daughter, Victoria, showed signs of the disease, Strong again turned to University of Chicago experts to manage Victoria's Crohn's disease.

IBD Patient Seth Kinnett

IBD Patient Stays Healthy With Great Care
Judging by his life today, nobody would guess that Seth Kinnett's teen years were dominated by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which caused debilitating pain. Kinnett credits Dr. Rubin's decision to switch to newer, more advanced medications with keeping his condition in remission for nearly two years.

Bob McCullough

The University of Chicago Medicine Transforms Life for Crohn's Patient
Bob McCullough struggled with Crohn's disease on and off for 25 years before finding more definitive treatment at the University of Chicago. Not long after having surgery, he took to the road on a week-long, 475-mile bike ride across Iowa. Other than some difficulties with his ostomy, McCullough has not suffered additional problems with Crohn's disease and has stayed in remission for several years.


Ellen and Joseph Mangano

Minimally Invasive Technique Leads to a Dramatic Result for Pancreatic Patient
Joseph Mangano experienced painful bouts of pancreatitis and had trouble finding a physician who could fix his blocked pancreatic duct. He turned to Dr. Waxman who performed an advanced non-surgical treatment known as endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) guided transluminal therapy to fix the blockage. Nearly six months after the procedure, Joseph's quality of life has improved dramatically.


Ron McCormick

A Timely Decision: Routine Colonoscopy Keeps Cancer at Bay
Ron McCormick’s physician advised him to get a routine colonoscopy around the time he turned 50. So McCormick, who is known for being punctual, scheduled the procedure for two days before his birthday. When the colonoscopy revealed numerous benign polyps — including several that were large and hard to reach — he turned to the experts at the University of Chicago Medicine.