Special Report: Nebraska Nice

Posted at 10:49 PM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 23:49:28-05

An Indiana couple found themselves reeling from a devastating diagnosis-stage 4 cancer. What happened next, an amazing, heart warming story about the kindness strangers they met along their way.

Jeff Hockett of Bloomington, Indiana, was the poster guy for an active lifestyle. The EMT spent his weekends touring in a country rock band. He was working on his MBA. All of this, until early November 2014.

"They did an xray, found the mass in the center my chest, and around some other organs. They said, 'these are tumors, we're thinking lymphoma'," Jeff Hockett said.

The diagnosis-T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma lekumia.

Shauna Hockett did what many have done in her position. She started a caring bridge website, asking for hope and support. In no time, this very faithful pair's prayers were answered.

"I did know how awful that monster was. I did know how sharp its teeth were."

Ann St. John's son Zachary died in Omaha in 2008.  He had lymphoma. St. John is from the same town in Indiana as the Hocketts. She heard their story secondhand and wanted to help. Her advice-go to Omaha. Go to Nebraska Medicine.

"For me, reaching out to shauna and jeff, was me keeping my promise to Zachary," she said.

"I'm a sports person, so I knew Omaha was known for baseball, College World Series, and steaks," Jeff said.

"She was adamant, she was like you have to go. I will send you there," Shauna said.

St. John footed the bill for the initial visit to Nebraska. The flight, the hotel, the rental car.

Doctors prescribed a treatment plan for Jeff to undergo in the comfort of his Indiana home. Until he got so bad, he had to come back to Nebraska.

"She called me up after she got the news. They have gotten the news in Indiana," said nurse Tawny Roeder, who helped managed his case. "And I just said, we'll get you here."

"The whole day, like I said, was hard, but everything just worked out perfect."

Within a couple of hours, Jeff was on a medical airlift to Omaha. He underwent intense chemotherapy, and a stem cell transplant saved  his life. As recovery came, the Hocketts wanted to recover away from the hospital to get a little normalcy.

"My dad he's a police officer in Indianapolis, and {Jeff} being and EMT. He was like, why don't we call the fire department and see if they have any resources?"

Firefighters from Omaha station 41 gave so much. Dishes, couches, bedding, food, a TV, and so much more. The firefighters even helped their Indiana brother and his wife move in and out of their apartment. After more than 100 days of successful recovery, the Hocketts returned home.

KMTV sister station WRTV caught up with the Hocketts just this week in Indiana. Jeff is recovering well.  Jeff and Shauna Hockett make trips back to Omaha for monthly check up at Nebraska Medicine. Shauna posted her last update about their journey on caring bridge, aptly titled 'The End'. It's not quite the end though. The couple has signed on with a publisher, and are writing a book about their experience, not just with cancer but about the kindness of others.

"It is hard. It has been difficult, but there is good in it too. There are still amazing, good people in this world, so we want that to be heard," Shauna said.