Staff Spotlight

Megan Witte, Medical Physicist

Radiation Oncology & Brachytherapy Center

John Stoddard Cancer Center

Fun Fact: I graduated with my Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and Behavior with a minor in computer science at age 18. I finished both my college degree and my high school degree simultaneously. I even walked for my college graduation before my high school one!

I began my journey in Radiation Oncology with my graduate studies in Medical Physics. My very first class was Radiation Biology, which discussed how radiation interacts with matter, and how we apply this knowledge to kill tumor cells by destroying their DNA so they can no longer replicate. I was immediately intrigued and immersed myself in the field.

As a medical physicist, I enjoy working behind the scenes ensuring patients can have a safe and effective delivery of their radiation treatment. We are the safety net in Radiation Oncology as we perform the quality assurance checks on a patient’s radiation treatment plan and on the actual radiation machines themselves. We have an integral role in improving the quality of cancer care and consult the team on technical aspects to determine the best course of action for a patient’s treatment.

I’m an avid rock climber, yoga enthusiast, and artist. I also love to sing and I’m currently teaching myself keyboard.

Welcome, Megan!


Two of Stoddard Cancer Center's amazing oncology nurses were named Great Iowa Nurses in 2024! Congratulations Kathy Hunnicutt and Stephanie Picken!

Alicia Burke, Powell 3, FOCUS Spotlight Award

Nominated by: Dawn Jurgens, House Supervisor

Alicia has a huge heart for her patients that shines in a lot of ways. She had called me to advocate for a bigger room for her patient. This was so much more than a comfort or aesthetic request. The patient was already on her second week of hospitalization with an indefinite length of stay in front of her. Preceding her cancer battle is her everyday challenge of raising a special needs child. It was nearly impossible to fit the child’s wheelchair in the room so he could visit his mom, but the tight quarters were also a safety risk to both the patient and child. This is just one of the many ways that Alicia shows her patients that they matter at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines.

Rachael Johnson, Powell 3 Manager to Join ONCC Board of Directors

The ONCC (Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation) Board of Directors elected Rachael Johnson, RN, BSN, MHSA, OCN, to fill the OCN designated seat on the Board beginning in May 2024. Rachael (also pictured above) has served on ONCC committees, is a member of ONS (Oncology Nursing Society), is active in the Des Moines – Central Iowa ONS chapter, and in other organizations and work-based committees and boards. Rachael has a breadth of experience in both adult and pediatric oncology, radiation oncology, in- and outpatient care, and nurse leadership. We're so lucky to have her on our team at Stoddard Cancer Center!


Dish with Nish Podcast is a series exploring topics of interest in cancer prevention, the human spirit and how new ideas are changing cancer care. Dr. Andrew Nish, Medical Director at the Stoddard Cancer Center, hosts insightful conversations with doctors, health care workers and patients discussing various aspects of health and cancer care. To listen to his latest episodes, including the topics of new and developing technology in theranostics, Amadora Legacy Project, financial navigation, and how our lifestyle can help minimize our risk of cancer, click here. Scroll to 'Dish with Nish Podcast'.

Upcoming Classes, Programs & Events

Hybrid Support Groups

Stoddard Cancer Center has transitioned most support groups to hybrid meetings, so participants have the option of attending in-person or virtually. For information on when groups meet and how to join, click here and contact the phone number listed for the group you are interested in attending. 

Purple Stride - Saturday, April 27 at Raccoon River Park - Stoddard Cancer Center is proud to support this run/walk event in support of those with pancreatic cancer. For information, visit PurpleStride Iowa 2024 - Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (

Black Women 4 Healthy Living

Black Women 4 Healthy Living (BW4HL) hosts the Black Women’s Health Coalition at Corinthian Baptist Church on the third Saturday of each month in 2024. The focus is on Black women and their health and wellness. Health Assessments are given monthly to measure progress. The group engages in some low-impact physical activity and discusses a health-related topic unique to Black women. These events are completely free, and ALL Black women are welcome to join. For more information or to register, visit

Rooted in Nature

UnityPoint Health - Des Moines partners with Polk County Conservation to create health and wellness programs that are focused on improving health with a connection to nature. For a list of classes, click here.


Forest bathing (also called forest therapy) is a wellness practice rooted in scientific research that helps individuals engage with the natural world using all the senses in order to reap positive physiological and psychological benefits. It’s more than a walk in the woods; it’s an immersion into the full experience of the forest and nature. For upcoming opportunities, click here.

Save the Date!

We will be celebrating Cancer Survivors Day on Sunday, June 9 at an Iowa Cubs baseball game at Principal Park. Registration will open mid-April at under "Classes and Events".

Foundation News

Stoddard Cancer Center celebrated the 24th annual Rally Against Cancer on January 27. More than 550 attendees were treated to an inspiring evening featuring four-time Olympian and Breast Cancer Thriver, Chaunté Lowe.


Chaunté spent Saturday afternoon visiting patients on Powell 3. She shared stories of hope and perseverance with our patients and their families. In addition to the heartwarming conversations, she also signed autographs and took pictures with our team members.


Thanks to the support from donors, Rally raised $450,000 that will support programs and services at Stoddard Cancer Center, making a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. Thank you to all who helped make this event such a success! 

A shoutout to these amazing organizations for their support of Stoddard Cancer Center in the recent months! We are so grateful!

Polk County Sheriff's Office raised $1,600 for the Pink Days Free Mammogram Program.

Bomgaar's Ladies Night raised more than $630 for the Pink Days Free Mammogram Program.

Norwalk Fire Department raised $500 for the Compassion Fund.

Titan Tire raised $42,000 through their annual fundraising event, Titan Tire Ride to a Cure.

Blank Children’s Hospital and John Stoddard Cancer Center were honored during Scheels’ annual Day of Giving. 

Springfield Plastics Inc. raised more than $27,000 through their Drain for the Cure campaign. Their gift will support the Adolescent and Young Adult program at Stoddard Cancer Center. 

Fun Photos

The Drake Women's basketball team stopped by Iowa Methodist Medical Center to visit with cancer patients and staff before the Pink Game on February 10. Stoddard Cancer Center sponsored the game and was involved in game activities.

Stoddard Cancer Center sponsored the Iowa Wild Pink in the Rink night on February 10! A shoutout to our heroes of the game - the Radiation Oncology Team!

The EMPOWER Boutique and Salon now has wig stands made from various woods available to patients. The stands are free of charge to patients needing a stand for a wig. We would like to thank the Des Moines Woodturners Club for making and donating the stands! For more information on the EMPOWER Boutique and Salon, visit

Healthy Eats

Where's the Beef Stew?

Looking for the perfect meal to cozy up with on a chilly night? Look no further than this hearty stew so full of flavor and meaty chunks of cremini mushrooms and cooked vegetables you won’t stop to wonder, where’s the beef. The fresh rosemary and parsley add to the rich flavor and using homemade vegetable stock will only heighten the flavor. This recipe can be prepared in you crock pot by combining the ingredients and cooking on low for 6 hours.

YIELD: 10 cups  PREP TIME: 40 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 2¼ cups)
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into ¾-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup red wine, optional
  • 2 lb. white potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
  • cup no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 5 cups vegetable stock or water (if using water, I recommend adding 2 bay leaves)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1½ cups thawed frozen peas
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1.   In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat and cook onions, carrots, and celery, for 8 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2.   Add ¼ cup of red wine and simmer until wine reduces to about half. This step is optional but will intensify the flavor.

3.   Add tomato paste and allow to heat 3-5 minutes or until tomato paste turns a golden orange color.

4.   Stir in potatoes, Italian seasoning, and smoked paprika. Add 5 cups of vegetable stock. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in rosemary. Cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in peas; cook, covered, 5 minutes more or until carrots and potatoes are tender.

5.   Transfer 2 cups of the mixture to a blender, cover and blend until smooth. Return to soup pot. Or use an immersion blend and blend the stew until slightly thickened but most of the solid vegetables remain. Stir in parsley.

The American Cancer Society is seeking volunteers to drive cancer patients to treatment appointments. Access to timely, high-quality treatment can often be a cancer patient’s largest roadblock to survival. Many patients must schedule daily or weekly appointments for several months, keeping friends and family from being able to provide all the support needed. The American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery program fills this gap by offering free rides to patients. Volunteer drivers are urgently needed in Des Moines and the surrounding area. To learn more or to volunteer visit

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