By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN Waverly native Dr. Mark Graham Jr. may run a private practice in North Carolina, but he hasn’t forgotten about his roots.
In fact, the name of his clinic Waverly Hematology Oncology is a tribute to the small Minnesota town that shaped who he is today.
“I could have named it after a lot of things,” Graham said. “The reason I chose Waverly was that the habits I learned there and the influences that shaped me served me well.”
The clinic’s Waverly ties were recently amplified, when 2002 Holy Trinity High School graduate Brittani Boehlke joined the practice as a certified physician assistant.
“Dr. Graham is one of the top physicians in his field, and I feel extremely blessed to be learning from him firsthand,” said Boehlke, whose parents, Eugene and Rita Boehlke, farm between Waverly and Howard Lake.
The Boehlkes and the Grahams have been family friends since Eugene was a teenager working for Graham’s father, Mark Graham Sr., in the beef cattle industry.
“Working with cattle requires planning and a lot of hard work,” Graham said. “You have to learn about not succeeding.”
The Grahams moved to Hopkins in 1961, but their business remained in Waverly, where Graham spent most of his summers.
“Most of my character was shaped in Waverly,” he said. “I think there are a lot of great people there.”
Graham’s uncle, Dan Graham, for example, is a World War II veteran who co-founded Citizens State Bank in Waverly. Dan’s daughter, Catherine “Birdie” Jackson, is the bank’s current CEO.
Graham also hasn’t forgotten about his aunt, Geraldine, and her husband, Al Gutzke. Although Al’s life was cut short by leukemia, he left a long-standing impact.
“It will be 38 years since he passed away, but I still think about him often,” Graham said.
Training near and far
Although Graham has fond memories of Waverly, it isn’t the only town that guided his path in life.
After high school, he attended Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, graduating in 1977. He then furthered his training at Mayo Medical School in Rochester until 1982.
Graham’s first North Carolina stay was during his residency at Duke University Medical Center in Durham.
“After my training, I chose to specialize in hematology and oncology,” he said, adding that his next stops were fellowships at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
“Each place I’ve trained has had a significant influence on me,” he said.
However, when it came time to name his clinic, only one name would do.
“Not Harvard, not Rocky Mountain, not Little Mayo we called it Waverly,” he said.
Determination and skill
According to Graham, Minnesota’s frigid winters teach perseverance.
“I keep an eye on the weather in Minnesota, and I heard it’s been mild this year,” Graham said. “I’m glad for that, but too many of these and you’ll lose your reputation.”
At Waverly Hematology Oncology, Graham has persevered through many challenges, continuously working to improve the lives of his clients.
His clinic, which sees people with all types of cancer and hematologic disorders, offers on-site infusion therapy, one-on-one primary nursing, a comprehensive lab, and several diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
Boehlke’s new home
Boehlke enjoys the “home-like atmosphere” of the clinic, which combines compassionate care with cutting-edge medical advances.
Her interest in the oncology field developed after witnessing the effects of cancer in the lives of loved ones. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Crookston in 2006, and earned a master’s of science degree in physician assistant studies from the University of South Dakota in 2010.
Boehlke strives to expand her knowledge each day, and to always be attuned to her patients’ needs.
“My patients’ strength and courage is amazing, and the intimate relationships that develop with them and their families are what makes this career extra special,” she said.
Waverly Hematology Oncology is located in an area of leading technology firms, medical centers, and universities known as the Research Triangle.
The clinic was featured in the June 2011 issue of “The Triangle Physician,” a magazine for health care professionals throughout the region.
To learn more about the practice, go to www.waverlyhematologyoncology.com.