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Headshot of Nick, stem cell transplant survivor.

Meet Nick

Stem Cell Transplant Survivor

"The irony of being courageous is you have no choice."

Nick had never even heard of myelofibrosis when his doctor delivered the unimaginable news.

He was facing a rare type of bone marrow disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce blood cells.

His prognosis: three years.

The restauranteur, who is president of the Little Greek Fresh Grill chain across the country, tackled his diagnosis similar to a business plan.

He decided he would consult with expert doctors at top hospitals across the country and learn as much as he could about his disease and how to best treat it.

The news was sobering.

“One doctor said 20 percent die and 20 percent wish they were dead,” Nick recalls.

Time and again, Nick was told he would have to get a stem cell transplant.

With that news, he decided to be treated at Moffitt Cancer Center. Not only would he be close to his home and family but “the reputation of Moffitt and the results spoke for themselves,” he says.

Finding a donor for a transplant can be extremely difficult but Nick counted himself extremely lucky when a match was found in the national donor registry.

His treatment team, including Dr. Lia Perez, braced Nick for what would be a long road following the transplant: there would be good days and bad days.

“One thing Dr. Perez said is that half of your survival is your mental attitude,” says Nick.

It’s advice that Nick took to heart. During his treatment, he tried to keep his life “as normal as I could.” He still got dressed like he was going to work, even signing checks and answering email.

“Courage is a little word for him,” says Dr. Perez. “I think there's better, bigger words than that for him. He inspires everybody with his positive attitude.”

For Nick, there was no question. He just did what he had to do to get better.

“The irony of being courageous is you have no choice,” says Nick. “But from what Dr. Perez told me, there are patients that go through and they give up. And that would be my message: Don't give up. Fight through. You can do it.”