Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

February 7th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Back in Flight After a Long Bout With Chronic Pain

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Parry Winder back in flight after pain treatment. At the age of 47, Parry Winder was looking forward to a bright future. Retired from two decades as a test and fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, Parry had transitioned into a non-military role that he relished as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. But in an instant, an accident brought Parry's aspirations for his new career crashing down.

Left with debilitating pain, Parry was forced to quit flying. He thought he'd never return to the cockpit. After searching for answers for more than eight years, though, he found the Pain Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus was able to offer a solution. Today, Parry is pain-free and back in the skies again.  [...]

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Tags: chronic pain, Dr Bryan Hoelzer, Pain Clinic, Pain Medicine, Spinal Cord Stimulator

February 3rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Wisconsin Man "Falls From Sky" and Survives

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

David Edming survived a fall from the skyDavid Edming, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, didn’t want to slow down when he retired. The U.S. Navy veteran, age 56, took up aviation and purchased a powered parachute ultralight aircraft — a three-wheeled machine with a propeller that ascends when wind fills an attached parachute.

“The thing with a powered parachute is you only fly in perfect weather,” David says. He found that perfect weather on July 2, 2013 -- a beautiful day with no wind -- and he took off from his hay field to pass by a local golf course, just as he had done many times.

After his flyby, he tried to increase altitude while making a turn, which was standard procedure. But this time, something went wrong. Although the wing should have caught the wind, it instead curled under, sending him into a nosedive. [...]

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Tags: Broken Pelvis, Dr Fernando Serna, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Medically Induced Coma, Nerve Damage, Orthopedic Surgery

January 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mother and Daughter Winning Battle With Cancer Despite Family History of the Disease

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Yadira and Valeria Zepeda are mother and daughter cancer survivors. Most of us have known someone with cancer, either in our family or with a friend or an acquaintance. But cancer can be particularly cruel when it seems to target a specific family over and over again. For the Zepeda family of Miami, cancer has stricken a mother, her daughter, a number of other family members, and even the family dog.

Yadira Zepeda, a 67-year-old mother of four adult children, was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1991 and was told by her physician in Miami that she probably had two to four months to live. Not satisfied with what she heard and unwilling to give up after receiving that devastating news, at a friend’s recommendation she came to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus for the second opinion that has given her life and hope for the past 24 years.

“My Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldn’t promise me a miracle, we would fight my disease with every available option, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and eventually with a bone marrow transplant which I received in 1994,” Yadira says. “While it’s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and I’m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Yadira’s own battle with cancer took a back seat when in June 2008 her daughter Valeria was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after unexplained bruises began appearing on her legs and arms. Based on her mother’s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease. [...]

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Tags: Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant, Bilateral Masectomay, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, Dr Candido Rivera, Dr. Gerardo Colon-Otero, Dr Sikander Ailawashi, multiple myeloma

January 27th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mom of 6-Year-Old Counts Reasons to Take Heart Health Seriously

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Marla Burkhart made lifestyle changes to improve her heart health. Marla Burkhart's story dates back to 2009, when she underwent an emergency cesarean section at Mayo Clinic eight weeks before her due date. Before the surgery took place, doctors discovered that Marla had a condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition that occurs in about 1 in 3,000 deliveries and causes inefficient blood circulation. Despite the complications, however, Marla delivered a healthy baby boy named Noah.  [...]

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Dr Lori Blauwet, Go Red Campaign, heart disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy, women's health

January 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

3-D Print of Patient's Tumor Helps Surgeons Prepare, Speeds Recovery

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Michael Slag holds a 3-D image of his lungMichael Slag holds in his hands a tumor – or rather a 3-D print of the actual tumor that is growing at the top of his right lung. Doctors are using the 3-D printed model to aid them in planning the complex surgery to remove Michael’s tumor.

Mayo Clinic doctors diagnosed Michael with a rare form of lung cancer known as Pancoast tumor, a condition so rare that Mayo Clinic has only seen 60 cases in the past 20 years. [...]

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Tags: 3-D printing, Dr Jane Matsumoto, Dr Shanda Blackmon, lung cancer, thoracic surgery

January 15th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Stroke at 36 Comes as Shock, Reveals Deeper Issues

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Scott Gunderson with his familyScott Gunderson is a typical working father of three young children. His days typically are full of meetings, play dates, golf games and helping manage his busy family’s calendar. You likely wouldn't guess that the 38-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a stroke survivor and heart valve patient. [...]

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Tags: Eau Claire, Endocarditis, Mayo Clinic Health System, stroke

January 13th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Employee, Caregiver, Patient: Many Hats for Andrea Liptac

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Andrea Liptac found help for heart conditions at Mayo Clinic. Andrea Liptac describes her journey to Mayo Clinic as a "winding road."

She first learned about Mayo in the early 1990s, when she was living in Montana with her family. At that time, her mother, Kelli Liptac, was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, and was referred to a specialist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Her chronic conditions would warrant multiple trips to Rochester over the years. She would ultimately land on the heart transplant list.

As Andrea approached college graduation in 2004 and began to consider where to apply her education as a laboratory technologist, she recalled her mother's visits to Rochester.

"My mom's treatment at Mayo Clinic indirectly influenced my decision to work here," Andrea recalls. She applied to work as a laboratory technician in the Protein Immunology Laboratory at Mayo and has remained in that role ever since.

Unfortunately, Andrea's Mayo Clinic experience went beyond her employment. She would learn she and her mother shared more in common than she knew, leading her on a  a surprising and difficult journey she says gave her a different perspective on Mayo Clinic and a new understanding of the patient experience.  [...]

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Tags: congestive heart failure, Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Barry Boilson, Employee Stories, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Patient Stories, Rochester Campus, transplant, Transplant List, Dr David Joyce

January 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Retired Nurse Goes "All In" for Weight Loss, Sheds Pounds, Gains Energy and Passion

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

SunnyJohnson805It's tempting to describe Sonya "Sunny" Johnson, a retired Mayo Clinic nurse, as a poster child for successful weight loss surgery. Cliché or not, she readily accepts the moniker as a point of pride.

In fact, these days, when Sunny passes a mirror, she asks herself, "Who is that?"

Her ambitious journey to weight loss began in December 2010. This time, she vowed, she was ready. Like many dieters, Sunny had endured her share of stops and starts with popular weight loss plans. "My weight went up and down, and again up and down," she says. "But when I retired, my excuses were used up. I thought, okay, this is my turn to take care of me." At that point, she says, the scale read 254 pounds. [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, bariatric surgery, Gastric Bypass Surgery, Mayo Clinic Bariatric Program, Weight Loss

December 28th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

There's No Breaking Leo DeGoursey's Stride

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

LeoDegoursey805A minimally invasive procedure allows Leo DeGoursey to move on from lung cancer surgery without missing a beat.

Leo DeGoursey is used to being busy. Until age 50, he enjoyed a career as a printer. Then he made a switch and spent the next two decades developing curriculum, equipping a lab, and teaching printing at a local college. During that time, he also worked with handicapped students and learned sign language.

Now, at age 85, Leo enjoys woodworking and playing the banjo. He's active in his church, exercises regularly, enjoys socializing and spending time with his family, and takes care of all of his own household maintenance and chores.

That's impressive for anyone. But Leo's active lifestyle is all the more noteworthy because in early 2015, he had surgery at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus to remove a cancerous tumor from his lung. Within days, he returned to his usual routines without a hitch.

"Since I had never had an operation, I expected that this surgery would result in pain, perhaps severe pain, upon recovery. To my amazement I did not experience any pain," Leo says. "Two days after the surgery, I was released from the hospital and shopped at a pharmacy on my way to my daughter’s house to buy some pain medicine. I never needed it. Never once did I feel like I had been through surgery."  [...]

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Tags: Dr Matthew Thomas, lung cancer, minimally invasive surgery, U-VATS

December 23rd, 2015 · 1 Comment

Holiday Season Brighter for Pulmonary Hypertension Patient After Surgery

By cindyweiss cindyweiss

Laura Floeckher found help for pulmonary hypertension at Mayo Clinic. The holiday season is much brighter this year for Laura Floeckhler, 45, from Orlando, Florida. Laura was diagnosed last Christmas with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disorder of the lungs affecting about 30 in every one million people. [...]

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Tags: Blood Clots, Florida Campus, Lung Disease, pulmonary hypertension, Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy, Charles Burger, Kevin Landolfo, MayoClinicFL

December 16th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Wife Gives Husband the Gift of Life with Living Donor Kidney

By pscotti pscotti

Cameron Mullis received a living donor kidney transplant from his wife, Savannah. When 29-year-old Cameron Mullis of Jacksonville, Florida, was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy and told he’d need a kidney transplant, he was facing the likelihood of kidney dialysis and several years of waiting for a suitable donor. Little did he realize, his potential donor was living under the same roof as him.

IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger's disease, is a kidney disease that occurs when an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, lodges in your kidneys. This results in local inflammation that, over time, may hamper your kidneys' ability to filter waste, excess water and electrolytes from your blood. Kidney damage may be indicated by blood and protein in the urine, high blood pressure and swollen feet. There currently is no cure for this disease outside of a kidney transplant.  [...]

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Tags: Florida Campus, IgA Nephropathy, Kidney Dialysis, kidney disease, kidney transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

December 10th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Complementary Medicine Provides Healing Touch for Patient in Final Days

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Karl Weissig enjoying music and nature.Marilyn and David Weissing, both Mayo Clinic employees, knew something was wrong when their 19-year-old son, Karl, asked to be taken to the hospital one summer evening in 2014. Karl, always healthy and active, rarely complained about anything. So David immediately drove him to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus.

Karl, a beekeeper, was the third of eight children raised on a hobby farm in Winona County, Minnesota.  Karl developed an interest in sustainable farming as a young child and had worked with several local farmers to expand his knowledge and expertise.

He spent the winter after his high school graduation managing an organic dairy herd in Missouri. By the following July, he was back home working a construction job, making a movie with some friends, and playing in a bluegrass band with his brothers.

Karl was initially diagnosed with atypical hepatitis A, possibly acquired a few months earlier during an outbreak at a restaurant. When his liver started to fail, Karl was put on the liver transplant list and, miraculously, received a new liver before a month had passed.  [...]

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Tags: Accupressure, Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Hepatitis A, Histiocytic Sarcoma, liver transplant, Massage Therapy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

December 8th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Transplant Diary and a Father's Day Heart

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Clint Frederick wrote a book about his heart transplant experience at Mayo Clinic. When Clint Frederick learned that he needed a heart transplant, he naturally wondered what the road ahead would look like. So he searched for a book that described the process from a patient’s perspective.

His search came up short. But it planted seed. Perhaps he'd change things for other patients.

"After I was approved for a heart transplant, I decided to keep a diary," he says. The diary became the basis for a book, supplemented by information he drew from his medical record, that chronicles Clint's 110 days on the transplant list. But his story begins long before his wait for a new heart.  [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Cardiovascular Diseases, congestive heart failure, defibrillator, heart disease, Heart Transplant, Pacemaker, Transplant List

November 25th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Surprise Diagnosis Spurs Learning Curve, Search for Help

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Cheryl Sturdevant was surprised by her livedoid vasculitis diagnosis.Diagnosed with a rare disease, livedoid vasculopathy, Cheryl Sturdevant turned to Mayo Clinic for help. Then she turned to helping others.

When Cheryl Sturdevant found out she had livedoid vasculopathy, she had no idea what it was. An uncommon disorder, livedoid vasculopathy affects the skin. For no clear reason, it often causes deep wounds in the lower legs and feet, and those wounds can trigger debilitating pain.

"I had symptoms from my calves down onto my feet. The wounds on top of my feet made it difficult to wear shoes. The pain was intense," says Cheryl. "I had been teaching at the time of my diagnosis. But I wasn't able to keep doing that, due to my symptoms. I started looking everywhere for information and help."

Both were hard to come by. Cheryl went to a number of doctors, including several specialists, but she was unable to find someone who could work with her to manage the disease.

She kept researching livedoid vasculopathy and found information about it on a Mayo Clinic website. That prompted her to make a phone call that would change everything.  [...]

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Tags: Dermatology, Dr Raymond Shields, Livedoid Vasculopathy, Pain Management, Vasculopathy

November 18th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Putting the Pieces Together to Solve Medical Mystery

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Kim Goranson found help for lupus symptoms at Mayo Clinic.Kim Goranson knew something wasn't right. For more than 10 years, she endured exhaustion, pain and bouts of confusion. But to her frustration, repeated medical evaluations revealed nothing. A high-energy real estate agent in Lincoln, Nebraska, Kim saw her successful career slip away as the symptoms took a heavy toll on her life.

"I had to quit working in 2010. I was only 50 years old," says Kim. "I thought I'd rest, get myself back together, and then get back to work. Instead, I got worse and worse. Many days, I didn't get out of bed."

Her outlook began to change, however, when Kim was referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Although it took some time to arrive at a clear diagnosis, her Mayo Clinic care team was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and determined that Kim had lupus.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Vaidehi Chowdhary, Lupus, rheumatology

November 17th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Taking It in Stride -- Amputations, Heart Surgeries and a Pump Won't Dampen Dick Feller's Spirit

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Dick Feller remains positive about his unique medical experience, including amputations and a heart pump. Dick Feller likes to joke about his medical escapades.

In just six years, Dick Feller had three open-heart operations, had both legs and an arm amputated, and was fitted with a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, to keep his heart pumping. That's a lot for one person to take. But with unconditional support from his family and an unwavering sense of humor, Dick hasn't let the experience affect his attitude.

"I have three stumps and a pump," Dick, 71, jokes. "And because I didn't want things to get boring, I had gall bladder and kidney stone surgery in between those other procedures."  [...]

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Tags: Aortic Dissection, cardiac surgery, Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr John Stulak, heart surgery, Left Ventricular Assist Device

November 13th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Recovery Turns Into Cancer Battle for Avid Runner

By cindyweiss cindyweiss

Judi, center, with Dr. Horacio Asbun, Mayo Clinic surgeon (center), and her grandson Jude, at the 2014 Pancreatic Cancer Walk.

Judi Zitiello with her grandson, Jude, and Dr. Horacio Asbun, Mayo Clinic surgeon , at the 2014 Pancreatic Cancer Walk.

An avid runner, Judi Zitiello, 66, was forced into a six-week hiatus when she developed a meniscus tear in early 2014. The retired financial executive was always active – exercising, hosting dinner parties, and volunteering to run the JT Townsend Foundation, a Jacksonville, Florida, philanthropic organization.

Judi wasn’t too concerned about the downtime at first. She knew her body would take time to heal. But the pain lingered. Then Judi began losing weight and her energy waned.


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Tags: Dr. Horacio Asbun, Dr Kristina DeMatas, Florida Campus, Pancreas, pancreatic cancer, purple strides, Whipple

November 12th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Restoring Mobility and Hope After Traumatic Motorcycle Crash

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Troy Chroniger enjoys time with his daughters after brachial plexus surgery.

Troy Chroniger enjoyed a busy, if hectic, life in Orlando, Florida, as a construction estimator and dad to three daughters. To relax, Troy, age 43, enjoyed sports and an occasional motorcycle ride with friends. Life changed dramatically one Saturday in November 2011, when he was out for a ride, hit a rough patch of road, veered and collided with a guardrail. He was rushed to a hospital in Orlando, where doctors diagnosed him with a debilitating brachial plexus injury.

"It was one of the worst the doctor said he'd seen," Troy recalls the physician saying. Of the five nerves that make up the brachial plexus in the shoulder, Troy suffered a complete nerve evulsion injury. His doctor referred him to Mayo Clinic, which performs hundreds of brachial plexus procedures annually.  [...]

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Tags: brachial Plexus, Dr Peter Murray, Florida Campus, neurosurgery, Orthopedics

November 5th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Gut Feeling, Being in Right Place May Have Saved Lynn Witherspoon

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Lynn Witherspoon and her husband moved to Jacksonville to be close to Mayo.When Lynn Witherspoon was diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted to move quickly. And she wanted to move to a place she felt would give her the care she needed. So she and her husband moved from their home in North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida, to be near Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

"We live in a rural area, and I felt more comfortable going to Mayo for my cancer care," she says. She'd had relatives treated at Mayo. "So I knew what it offered and its reputation."

Lynn was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. She completed five months of chemotherapy, and had a lumpectomy and removal of some lymph nodes, followed by radiation therapy. Something told her she should take another step to protect her health.  [...]

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Dr Matthew Robertson III, Dr Sanjay Bagaria, Dr Saranya Chumsri, Florida Campus, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Lumpectomy, Ovarian Cancer

November 3rd, 2015 · 1 Comment

Bone Marrow Transplant Is Answer for Mom of Seven Battling Aplastic Anemia

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

A bone marrow transplant helped Kristen Soley battle aplastic anemia.

Photo: Tina Fisher Photography

When her doctors suspected Kristen Soley had aplastic anemia, a rare condition in which the body stops making enough new blood cells, she says something told her to call Mayo Clinic.

Aplastic anemia carries with it a high risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding. It can develop at any age and can occur suddenly. In Kristen's case, signs that something was wrong included swelling and bruising around her ankles.

Kristen and her husband, Nate, drove from their home in Waverly, Minnesota, to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where her diagnosis was confirmed, and doctors outlined a treatment plan.  [...]

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Tags: Aplastic Anemia, bone marrow transplant, Dr David Rosenman, Dr William Hogan, Hematology