Grateful patient stories

Kelly Semo

As important as the qualities of accuracy, experience and decisiveness are in one’s doctor, the value of genuine kindness cannot be overstated. Cancer survivor and grateful patient Kelly Semo of Rome, NY, discovered this when a tumor was found on her bladder and she began receiving care at Upstate University Hospital. Her urologist, Dr. Gennady Bratslavsky, demonstrated an extraordinary level of empathy and sensitivity that Kelly still remembers vividly, although it has been several years since her treatment.

“Dr. Bratslavsky’s swift action in scheduling my surgery only two days after my test results clearly saved my life,” Kelly said. “But what I still get emotional about today was his kind demeanor.”

It was the little things that made the difference for Kelly: gently asking staff to “step out” so he could comfort her upon delivering her diagnosis; greeting her with a smile and remembering her at each follow-up visit; and his team’s obvious high regard for him.

Kelly, center, celebrates the holidays with her grandchildren, from left, Santino, Vincenzo, Antonio and Madison.


Watertown fire captain grateful for care after battling horrific blaze

Watertown fire captain T.G. Kolb’s recovery was a long and arduous one, but it was made easier by a wide and diverse support network including family, the Upstate team, fellow firefighters,  and even strangers. Here’s Kolb during his time in Upstate’s rehabilitation department displaying a “Thank You Hero” sign autographed by students from Sherman Elementary School in Watertown. Read more…




Gratefully, cancer patient finally rings bell

“If kindness and goodness were electricity, Dr. Graziano would light up the world.” 

Such were the words on the ‘thank you’ note written by Roland Woolridge of Phoenix, NY, to Upstate oncologist Dr. Stephen Graziano, as part of the Upstate Foundation’s annual Doctors’ Day observance earlier this year. Read more…



A family’s history of cancer. And its hope for the future.

Thanks to online tools like and popular TV shows like “Finding your Roots,” learning one’s family history is all the rage these days. Unfortunately for Denika Lundy, of Syracuse, she gained a greater understanding of her family tree through the family’s intergenerational battle with cancer. Read more…





COVID-19 hits Upstate Foundation in a very personal way 

Even as Upstate Medical University was rising to meet the threat of COVID-19, and the Upstate Foundation was introducing new funds to help with the crisis, the worldwide coronavirus outbreak struck close to home when 20-year-old Patrick Penfield, who is the son of the Foundation’s Kristen Penfield, tested positive for the virus. Read more…








As a grateful patient or family member, your gift to Upstate University Hospital’s Friend In Deed annual fund will have a simple yet meaningful purpose – to help patients during their time of greatest need.