The Extra Mile

Finding Hope on the Journey of a Lifetime

As a medical equipment installation and repair technician, Ernie Kirschner has traveled the world and met hundreds of people.

Back in 2016, Ernie Kirschner stopped by a research lab to catch up with one of the kindest, most supportive clients he had ever had. He was surprised to learn that his friend wasn't there—he had taken early retirement and was battling lymphoma.

Instead of heading home to Connecticut, Ernie looped north to visit his friend who had received chemo treatment that was no longer helping him. Ernie then learned the story. Despite aggressive treatment, his friend's cancer had persisted. There was one option left: a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The prospect of long drives, extended stays in Manhattan, and even more treatment beyond that overwhelmed his friend.

The timing was uncanny for Ernie, who had recently made a personal commitment to showing more kindness and impacting more lives. If his friend pursued the trial, he said, he'd drive him to MSK (a 16-hour round trip), open his home—whatever was needed.

The Journey Begins

In January of 2017, under the care of MSK hematologic oncologist Dr. Craig Sauter, Ernie's friend began chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, a new form of treatment that gives a patient's infection-fighting T cells the information they need to attack cancer cells.

Within a month, Dr. Sauter had good news: The tumors were shrinking. In May, Ernie's friend underwent a bone marrow transplant as a next step. For the next three months, The Red Team at one of MSK's outpatient clinics administered medications, monitored his vitals, and treated fevers and other conditions that sometimes occur in the difficult aftermath of the treatment.

Throughout it all, Ernie provided support alongside family and friends. When a scan showed no evidence of cancer, Ernie rejoiced with his friend and the MSK teams he'd come to know so well.

Touched by the care he witnessed, Ernie included MSK's bone marrow transplant service, in honor of The Red Team, as a beneficiary in his will. He feels good about the gesture and knows it will enable more patients to benefit from MSK's extraordinary care and leading-edge treatments, including CAR T cell therapy, in the future.

Ernie's generosity also goes a long way in fulfilling his pledge to do more to help others. For not just one man, but two, it has been the journey of a lifetime.

Honor Someone Special, Encourage More Research

  • When you include a gift to MSK in your estate plan to recognize the care you or someone close to you received, you provide the resources we need to make more medical breakthroughs.
  • Contact the Office of Planned Giving at plannedgiving@mskcc.org or 800-688-1827 to learn more. If you have already made a gift to MSK, please notify us so that we can better prepare for the future and thank you for your gift.
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