Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

October 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Patient Attributes Health to Excellent Care, A Generous Donor, and a Terrible Spider Bite

By Hoyt Finnamore

Jane Applen Anderson saw here health improve after a kidney and pancreas transplant.. You never know how an experience – even a negative experience – can shape the rest of your life. Decades ago, when Jane Applen-Anderson came to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus, in Rochester with her leg swollen to three times its usual size, she wasn’t thinking about what good could come out of it.

She would come to learn she’d been bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider. Mayo Clinic doctors treated her infection, removed the dead tissue, and worked to repair the damage done. They saved her leg, and they saved her life. That was just the first time.

While in the hospital, Jane was informed that tests showed her type 1 diabetes needed to be regulated more closely. Otherwise, she could lose her kidney function and her vision within the next year. Refusing to let the condition bring her down, Jane carefully followed her diabetes self-care plan. “You have to be a responsible patient, and do your part to follow your care plan,” she says.  [...]

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Tags: Brown Recluse, Kidney and Pancreas Transplant, type 1 diabetes

October 15th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Learning to Hear Again

By Hoyt Finnamore

Mayo Clinic patient Scott Malmstrom discussed the cochlear implant process. There are certain sounds that Scott Malmstrom had never known. He was born with hearing impairment, and it gradually got worse throughout his life. By fourth grade, he began experimenting with hearing aids. Over time, he became what he calls a “professional lip reader.”

Hearing aids didn’t help much with the type of hearing loss Scott had. “Where he struggled was speech discrimination – being able to recognize and understand what's being said,” he says. “That's where they eyes take over. That's what I've done over many years and became very good at it.”

But his diminished hearing did keep him from experiencing certain things, and he says it affected his communication with those he loved. Today, through the magic of cochlear implants, Scott is hearing new things and experiencing life in a way he hadn’t quite imagined.  [...]

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Tags: cochlear implants, Dr Colin Driscoll, Dr Doug Sladen, Dr Lee Belf, Hearing Loss

October 6th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

“I Feel Like Me Again”

By Hoyt Finnamore

Carly Edgar poses with her dog, Merc, after her time at Mayo Clinic. Carly Edgar faced a mystery illness, the baffling effects of a rare autoimmune disease, and the prospect of reconstructive surgery, but she found hope and help at Mayo Clinic.

In January 2013, Carly Edgar, an otherwise healthy 20-something, found herself in the hospital and in severe pain. The pain seemed to originate from near one of her ribs, but her local doctors couldn’t identify the source. She spent a week in the hospital without any answer. She was released, but it wasn’t long until she was back again.

Carly rated her pain at 10 on a 10-point scale, but doctors started to doubt her symptoms. They gave her pain medicine, but they also recommended antidepressants. When her boyfriend noticed a bump forming on her nose, she was told it was likely just a pimple. After a second week in the hospital, with things only looking worse, Carly asked to be discharged, and she and her boyfriend traveled to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in search of answers.

Within a few days, Carly had her surprising answer – a rare autoimmune disease called relapsing polychondritis. The disease attacks cartilage, and it was affecting not only her ribs and her nose, but also her heart, where doctors at Mayo found inflammation. She admits that it was a difficult diagnosis, but it also gave her hope that treatment could control her symptoms.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Ashley O'Reilly, Dr Grant Hamilton, Dr Uma Thanarajasingam, reconstructive surgery, Relapsing Polychondritis

October 2nd, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Orchestrating Cancer Treatment Not An Obstacle For International Musician

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Alvaro Gomez plays his violin. Alvaro Gomez knows people in several continents and has access to health care in the U.S., Chile and Europe. When the Central Florida resident faced a prostate cancer diagnosis, he polled his acquaintances and doctors near and far and came up with one answer: Mayo Clinic.

“I was fortunate that after taking into account the advice from friends and doctors, I came to the conclusion that the best place to go was Mayo Clinic, only an hour-and-a-half from my house,” Gomez says.

Gomez leads a busy life as a violinist, music instructor and orchestra conductor in Florida, Chile, Brazil and Italy. Now, just outside busy Orlando, Fla., he directs his own music academy, conducts the Florida Young Artists Orchestra, and teaches music at Trinity Prep in Winter Park. Internationally, he leads the annual Luis Sigall Music Competition in Viña del Mar, in his native Chile. He also conducts a chamber orchestra at Festival Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and each summer conducts at L’Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy.

In part due to his busy schedule, Gomez took time for a routine health checkup. Although he felt fine at the time, a routine blood test at age 56 turned up high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. His family doctor recommended a biopsy, which revealed cancer cells, and put him on a quest to find the best place to receive treatment.

[...]

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Tags: Central Florida, Dr Wehle, Jacksonville, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, minimally invasive surgery, Orlando, Prostate Cancer, prostatectomy, Robotic Surgery, MayoClinicFL

September 29th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Tracking the path of a stroke

By Hoyt Finnamore

Maryel Andison remains grateful she chose to come to Mayo Clinic for care after suffering a stroke. Maryel Andison was a university communications and fundraising specialist living with her husband and children in Winnipeg when she suffered a stroke. It was a warm Sunday morning, she was watering flowers, and she was just 51 years old.

Maryel waited three days before deciding to see a doctor. By the time she was referred to a neurologist, she learned there would be more delays, including waiting for the imaging tests that would show exactly what had occurred in her brain. But instead of allowing more time to elapse, she decided to seek advice from Mayo Clinic.

Maryel's ties to Mayo go back decades. Impressed with the cancer care a friend received at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, her parents became patients there in the 1950s. As a child, Maryel remembers visiting her mother at the hospital, where a half century later her husband's daughter would be a neurosurgical resident. Now, needing care herself, she saw it as a logical choice.

Ultimately, it was also a life-saving one.  [...]

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Tags: Blood Clots, cardiac surgery, Dr George Petty, Dr. Hartzell Schaff, Neurology & Neurosurgery, stroke, transient ischemic attack

September 24th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Overcoming the Hospital 'Fear Factor' to Catch Cancer Early

By Hoyt Finnamore

Michael Tessmer discovered he had prostate cancer early enough to lead to successful treatment. Michael Tessmer got out of his parents' car and stared at the hospital building before him. His parents had brought him to a hospital in his home state of Iowa for the first of 14 surgeries to repair a cleft palate. Each time, young Michael would be dropped off on the front steps of the hospital, and he would not see his parents again until the hospital released him.

"I don't know if that was hospital policy or what," he says. "But I'd be down there anywhere from two weeks to a month each time, all alone."

That did little to instill trust and confidence in the medical world. In fact, it did just the opposite. "I was terrified of doctors and hospitals," Michael says. "I'm not ungrateful that they fixed me. I'm very happy they did.” But he admits it left him with questions about that approach.

So after the last of his surgeries, Michael stayed as far away from doctors, nurses and other health care providers as he could -- going in to be seen only when it was absolutely necessary. Thankfully, that changed after one of Michael's daughters decided to go to nursing school. [...]

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Tags: Dr Matthew Tollefsun, Dr Michael Price, Dr Nancy Erickson, Mayo Clinic Health System, Men's Health, Prostate Cancer

September 11th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Clinic Clinical Trial Helps Physician Take On Multiple Myeloma

By Paul Scotti

Dr. Mike Mass undergoes treatment for multiple myeloma at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

When 69-year-old allergist and rheumatologist Mike Mass. M.D., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, he quickly realized that being the patient and trusting the advice of a fellow physician with expertise in a disease outside of his realm of expertise would be a challenge.

“I’ve always advocated open communications with my patients about their treatment options, as it’s important for the physician and patient to be on the same page,” says Dr. Mass. “Although I’m not a cancer expert, I know enough about the disease to ask lots of questions of my own oncologist on the best treatment options available. It was hard balancing the need to express my opinions without impeding my physician’s own expert medical judgment.”

Dr. Mass was in private practice in the Jacksonville, Florida, area for more than 30 years before going part-time and joining an allergy group practice in 2008. That’s where he worked until his diagnosis in 2013, when he finally decided to retire from practicing medicine. He had known he was at a greater risk for contracting multiple myeloma for many years because of a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance , or MGUS, which he was diagnosed with decades ago. MGUS is a condition in which an abnormal protein (M protein) is found in the blood. That increases the risk of developing multiple myeloma at some point in the patient’s life. Dr. Mass had no symptoms but found out several years ago after some blood work that his M protein levels were at the point where he now had “smoldering myeloma,” an early phase of this cancer condition. [...]

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Tags: Dr Asher Chanan-Khan, Mayo Clinic in Florida, multiple myeloma

September 2nd, 2014 · Leave a Comment

A Golden Dream

By Hoyt Finnamore

Dave and Joan Hittner pose with a historic ambulance in the Matthews Grand Lobby of the Mayo Building in Rochester.
After being diagnosed with cancer, Joan Hittner, along with her husband, David, created an organization to raise money to find a cure. Today, David and daughter Christine continue the work.

In 2011, Joan and David Hittner opened a letter from the Mayo Clinic Department of Development. Inside was a request: Would they consider donating $25 to support cancer research?

The Hittners quickly agreed that $25 wasn’t nearly enough.

“After what we’d just been through, that seemed a minuscule amount,” says David. “We started talking about what more we could do.”

The couple, from the Winona, Minnesota, area, had recently returned from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where Joan had undergone surgery to remove tumors that had encompassed her pancreas and invaded her intestines.

Joan's battle with cancer had started six years earlier. She’d gone to her doctor with what she thought was a gallbladder problem. Instead, Joan found out she had carcinoid cancer, and she was told surgery was her only treatment option. “The cancer was incurable,” says David, and “chemo and radiation wouldn’t work.” [...]

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Tags: cancer, Cancer Research, Carcinoid Tumor, Development

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