Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

December 10th, 2016

Successful Brain Cancer Surgery Puts Sunshine Back in a Young Mom’s World

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Tyson Cluever after brain cancer surgery. When Tyson Cluever, a 32-year-old mother of two from Benson, Minnesota, learned that she had an aggressive brain cancer, her first thought was of her children. At just nine months and five years old, her sons stood to lose one of the most important people in their lives if she were to share the fate of many individuals diagnosed with grade IV glioblastomas.

“It’s brain cancer, and you have between 12 and 18 months to live,” says Tyson’s husband, Jon. “It just totally messes you up inside when something like this happens.”

The couple’s next thought was to fight the cancer with everything they had.  [...]

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Tags: awake brain surgery, brain tumor, Dr Ian Parney, glioblastoma, neurologic surgery

December 8th, 2016

Teen Receives Thorough, Compassionate Care Before, During and After a Heart Transplant at Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Careful evaluation and genetic testing at Mayo Clinic revealed a severe heart condition that eventually led to a heart transplant for Chase Fairbairn. When most people think of their happy place, they envision something like a warm, sunny beach or a cozy mountain cabin. But when Lisa Fairbairn thinks about a place that gives her comfort, Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus comes to mind.

She’s happiest there because it’s where her son Chase was given a second chance. Not only did he receive a new heart at Mayo Clinic to replace one that was failing, but the family can now rely on ongoing care from Mayo Clinic physicians who understand Chase’s medical concerns and have pledged to do their best to keep him healthy well into the future.

Lisa’s sense of comfort didn't come easy, however. [...]

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Dr Eric Edell, Dr Michael Ackerman, Pediatric Cardiology, Pediatric Heart Transplantation Program

November 23rd, 2016

Body Builder Regains Energy After Surgery for Myasthenia Gravis

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Robert Clark with his busy family. Six years ago, Robert Clark thought he was having a stroke. His left eye drooped shut, and he began to have difficulty swallowing. A competitive body builder used to working out six times a week, Robert rarely got sick. So when a local physician dismissed his symptoms, he sought out a friend who worked at Mayo Clinic.

His friend recommended he see Paul Brazis, M.D., a physician who specializes in neuro-ophthalmology. After examining Robert, Dr. Brazis suspected myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disorder characterized by weakness and fatigue of the skeletal muscles as a result of an enlarged thymus. The thymus, an H-shaped gland situated in the upper chest that produces T-cells to fight disease, is supposed to shrink after birth, when bone marrow takes over this function.

Following a series of tests, the diagnosis of myasthenia gravis was confirmed. Robert then faced difficult decisions about managing his disease while living life as he wanted.   [...]

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Tags: Dr Matthew Thomas, Dr Paul Brazis, Florida Campus, minimally invasive surgery, myasthenia gravis, Robotic Thymectomy

November 22nd, 2016

Sharing Part of His Liver, Brother-in-Law Offers Something Greater: A Future

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A unique treatment approach that included a living-donor liver transplant has allowed Isaac Jackson to put cancer behind him and once again focus on his family, career and friends. Isaac Jackson was living a peaceful life, with a large, loving family, a successful law practice, and lifelong friends, when in early 2014, his life changed dramatically.

In January, Isaac began feeling sick whenever he ate. A visit to his primary care doctor in his hometown of Eugene, Oregon, led to an initial diagnosis of gallstones. But when an MRI of Isaac’s abdomen showed that the entire right side of his liver was no longer working and his bile ducts were almost completely blocked, his physician promptly connected him with specialists in Seattle.

“We were scared but thought that I was suffering from some sort of bile duct disease. We were hopeful,” Isaac recalls. “Unfortunately, our worst fears came true, and it put our family to the test. How would we respond? Would we stay hopeful? Would we be grateful for what we had?” [...]

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Tags: Dr Julie Heimbach, liver transplant, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

November 21st, 2016

Complex Diagnosis Reshapes a College Student’s Future

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Plagued by debilitating symptoms, Reilly Steidle turned to Mayo Clinic. A comprehensive evaluation revealed a range of challenging but manageable issues, and gave Reilly a new outlook.When Reilly Steidle came to Mayo Clinic in the summer of 2013 at the age of 20, she brought with her two rolling suitcases full of medical paperwork and a hope that the physicians could make sense of the recurring headaches, chronic fatigue and widespread pain she’d been dealing with for two years.

Reilly had been a healthy college student majoring in business at Northern Illinois University in the fall of 2011. But by the end of the school year, the Plainfield, Illinois, resident had dropped out, debilitated by her mysterious symptoms. Reilly spent the summer of 2012 visiting doctors.

When no one could decipher her symptoms, she decided to try another approach. Reilly went to a chiropractor, who asked to see her MRI images. After looking at them, the chiropractor urged Reilly to get an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test, confirmed by a Western blot test, to check for Lyme disease. Reilly did so, and on her 19th birthday, she received the news that the test results were positive.

[...]

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Tags: Center for Sleep Medicine, Dr Maja Tippmann-Peikert, Lyme Disease, Neurology & Neurosurgery, POTS, Transfusion Medicine

November 18th, 2016

Relieving Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment With Microsurgery

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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Angenette Monroe with her surgeon, Antonio Forte, M.D.

In May 2013, at age 47, Angenette Monroe was diagnosed with invasive cancer in her left breast. After six months of chemotherapy, she had a mastectomy as part of her treatment plan.

The former gastroenterology technologist had participated in many medical procedures and was well aware of the challenges people can face after surgery. But as an active woman who exercised and was always on the go, Angenette never expected her treatment would prevent her from enjoying life.

But it did. Side effects after surgery kept Angenette from activities with her husband, including running and traveling, as well as visits with her three children and her grandchild.

She also dealt with lymphedema for more than a year. Then Angenette turned to physicians at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus for help. They were able to offer her a unique surgical approach, called lymphovenous bypass, that eased her symptoms.

She had picked the right place to seek help.  [...]

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Dr Antonio Forte, Dr Dawn Mussallem, Florida Campus, lymphedema, mastectomy, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

November 14th, 2016

“Never Stop Fighting. Never Give Up” Becomes Mantra on Long Road to Better Health

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After years of kidney problems and a series of kidney transplants, Stacy Neumayer has finally achieved her goal of living the life she’s always wanted.

Photograph courtesy of Penni Pier.

Stacy Neumayer was a teenager when she received her first kidney transplant. Her health problems began when she was 4 years old. Over time, Stacy developed a condition called glomerulonerphritis, which causes inflammation in the tiny pockets of the kidneys that help remove excess fluid, electrolytes and waste from the bloodstream.

The illness affected Stacy’s kidney function, and she was put on dialysis until a donor kidney became available.

“Eventually my body and my kidneys started shutting down, so I went on dialysis until I had my first transplant,” Stacy says. “Unfortunately, my body rejected the donor organ before I even left the hospital, so it was back to dialysis.” [...]

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Tags: Dr Mark Stegall, kidney transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

November 10th, 2016

Minimally Invasive Bariatric Procedure Brings Relief, Joy in Food Again

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A minimally invasive procedure at Mayo Clinic helped Stephanie Cortez combat debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms and regain control of her body.Stephanie Cortez had been battling the scale for most of her 47 years. Weighing 240 pounds, the Lake Park, Georgia, resident decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery in 2008 in the hopes of losing a hundred pounds.

Stephanie made steady progress for the next six years. She adopted and maintained a healthier lifestyle and better eating habits. Then she hit a roadblock. In 2014, Stephanie developed a bleeding ulcer in the stomach pouch created during her surgery.

Though the ulcer healed, scar tissue created additional problems, including a narrowing of the area between the stomach pouch and intestine. The condition, called the gastrojejunal anastomosis, caused an intestinal obstruction.

[...]

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Tags: Dr Scott Lynch, Dr Victoria Gomez, Gastric Bypass Surgery, gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic in Florida

November 8th, 2016

Changing Minds While Learning to Live With Epilepsy

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

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The first time Tehya Mrotek had a seizure during class, she had just begun high school. Most of the faculty and staff at Stewartville High School didn’t know how to respond to Tehya’s condition.

The school nurse recognized what had happened, however. The nurse explained it to Tehya when she regained consciousness from her tonic-clonic episode. But Tehya’s teachers and support staff weren’t very familiar with epilepsy and were not equipped to administer seizure first-aid, says Tehya’s mother, Tamra Mrotek. That was six years ago.

Within three years, not only had all of Tehya’s teachers and administrators become proficient in epilepsy education, but the town of Stewartville had received certification as a Seizure Smart Community from the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota.

[...]

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Tags: Child and Adolescent Neurology, Dr Katherine Nickels, Epilepsy

November 4th, 2016

Multiple Medical Emergencies Give Nurse A New Perspective on Mayo Clinic Care

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After receiving treatment for two serious falls and going through a surgery, nurse Jackie Traurig has a heightened appreciation for the health care Mayo Clinic provides.

Jackie Traurig in the body cast needed to heal her fractured lumbar vertebra and with the nurse from Orthopedic Surgery who helped ease her nerves, Lori Pierce, who she calls “the biggest angel in the world.”

As a nurse for more than eight years at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, Jacklyn Traurig knew firsthand the value of the organization’s team approach to health care. But although Jackie was practiced at providing quality care, she didn’t truly see just how exceptional Mayo Clinic’s style was until she found herself in back-to-back medical crises.

A fall on the stairs landed Jackie in the Emergency Department with a broken back. Then, while still healing from the first event, Jackie fell again. This time, she slipped in a stairwell and suffered a concussion and broken collarbone. A CT scan following that fall revealed a brain tumor.

Despite all this, Jackie looks for the good in her experiences.

[...]

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Tags: Dr Ian Parney, Emergency medicine, Jacklyn Traurig, Lori Pierce, neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery

November 3rd, 2016

Routine Exam Leads to Successful Tonsil Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

For Gary Pearson, a physical required to renew his driver’s license led to evaluation of a suspicious lump on his neck that turned out to be tonsil cancer. With prompt diagnosis and treatment at Mayo Clinic, Gary is now cancer-free.

When Gary Pearson went in for a routine physical required by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to maintain his commercial driving privileges, he left with much more than a renewed driver’s license. The 58-year-old departed his appointment with an urgent directive from the nurse practitioner that examined him to see his primary care doctor. The reason: Gary had a bulbous lump on his neck.

“If she hadn’t found it, who knows how long it would’ve taken to detect it,” says Gary of Claudia Swanton, the advanced practice nurse in Mayo Clinic’s Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine who performed the exam.

[...]

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Tags: Claudia Swanton, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, otorhinolaryngology, preventive medicine, radiation therapy

October 31st, 2016

A Mother’s Frightening Fight Against Autoimmune Encephalitis

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Mayo Clinic’s accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of severe autoimmune encephalitis saved Gloria Pena’s life and put her on the path to a full recovery.

It started with ear pain in the spring of 2014. Within a few weeks, Gloria Pena’s earache escalated into confusion and sensory loss.

“I thought it was a bad cold with an earache,” Gloria recalls. “But one day I picked up my son from school and didn’t remember the way home.”

From there, Gloria’s condition spiraled downward. Eventually, the 36-year-old mother of two ended up in an intensive care unit in a coma, diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis, a serious condition in which Gloria’s immune system was attacking her brain.

Determined to find help for his wife, Gloria’s husband, Emmanuel, brought her to Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. Although it took time, her Mayo Clinic care team was able to save Gloria and put her on the path to recovery.  [...]

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Tags: Dr. William Freeman, encephalitis, Florida Campus, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Dr Sebastian Lopez Chiriboga

October 26th, 2016

Colleagues Go From Sharing a Workplace to Sharing a Kidney

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dawn Odenthal was more than willing to donate a kidney to help a colleague, Jolinda Conzemius. When Dawn Odenthal sat down for a meeting with her colleague Jolinda Conzemius in June 2014, organ donation was nowhere on her radar. The two women knew one another through their work at a company that specializes in school photography, yearbooks, church directories and other forms of memory preservation. Dawn is a regional sales director, and Jolinda is a photographer. They were meeting to talk about a project they had been assigned to work on together.

By the time they got up from the table that afternoon, however, they had started a process that would culminate in Dawn donating one of her kidneys to Jolinda for a life-altering kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic.

“I absolutely wanted to do this for her,” says Dawn. “There wasn’t a question in my mind.” [...]

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Tags: kidney transplant, Living donor transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

October 25th, 2016

Deep-brain Stimulation Helps A Pilot Return to Flight

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Ryan Uitti, M.D., and Beth McAllister with a self-portrait of patient Tyrone Nanton.

Ryan Uitti, M.D., and Beth McAllister of the movement disorders surgical team with a self-portrait of their grateful patient, Tyrone Nanton.

As a commercial airline pilot, Tyrone Nanton spends his days in a standard blue-and-white uniform. But in his off-hours, Tyrone’s creativity emerges in two favorite hobbies: creating colorful, elaborate costumes for carnival in his native Antigua, and painting. From 2006 to 2015, though, a tremor that got progressively worse made his hands shake so much that it kept him not only from those artistic pursuits, it eventually kept him from flying.

When the tremor started, Tyrone went to see a neurologist near his home in Brandon, Florida. To control the shaking, he was given a medication typically used for seizures. Due to regulations, however, the airline barred use of that medication. Tyrone had to find a different drug to manage his symptoms. Over time, however, even with an ever-increasing dosage of that medication, his tremor worsened.

“I couldn’t hold a glass with one hand. I couldn’t eat with a knife and fork,” Tyrone says.

At that point, Tyrone could not continue flying. He had to take medical leave and go on disability. Tyrone says he couldn’t imagine no longer being a commercial airline pilot. Seeking options after his local neurologist said there was nothing else that could be done, he decided to get a second opinion.  [...]

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Tags: Deep Brain Stimulation, Dr Robert Wharen, Dr Ryan Uitti, Essential Tremor, Florida Campus, Movement Disorders, neurosurgery

October 24th, 2016

Spinal Cord Stimulator Eases Pain Without Creating Limitations for Paul Hesson

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

When he was 38, Paul Hesson was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, and the condition triggered significant chronic back pain.

“Back then, they said I had the back of a 75-year-old man,” says Paul, who is 75 now.

As Paul got older, his pain increased, and he had severe joint stiffness. He went to see several neurosurgeons in the Jacksonville, Florida, area and received differing opinions for how to treat his condition. Ultimately, he decided to use medication to manage the pain. But by 2014, Paul’s pain worsened to the point that it limited his day-to-day activities. He knew he needed to do something more.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Ronald Reimer, neurosurgery, Pain Medicine

October 19th, 2016

Living Donor to Kidney Recipient: 'I Feel Like the Winner in All This'

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

katiandnancy805The email from a parent at her school in May 2013 took Nancy Shaver, an elementary school principal, by surprise. It was from Kati Walker, mother of two, who was on a mission: to donate one of her kidneys to Nancy, who greatly needed one.

Kati's message announced, "I'm going to be tested to be a kidney donor." Nancy, in her characteristic unassuming manner, replied, "Oh, how nice for someone!" Kati quickly replied, "No, it's for you, silly!"

Kati knew Nancy only as the principal at her children’s school. Nancy knew Kati as a parent and active volunteer. But their email exchange launched a journey to a life-saving kidney transplant for Nancy and a bond between the two women that they attest will last a lifetime.  [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, kidney disease, kidney transplant, Living donor transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

October 19th, 2016

Unique Treatment Option Cures Cushing Syndrome for Jessie Brown

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jessie Brown learned her mysterious symptoms were caused by Cushing syndrome. Retired elementary school teacher Jessie Brown takes time to enjoy the pleasures of daily life. She goes for long walks with her dogs, King Solomon and Baby Ruth. She spends time with her children and grandchildren who live near the farm where she and her husband, Tom, make their home in rural Marshall, Arkansas. She plans the holiday meals she’ll be making for her family, who are particularly looking forward to her much-loved turkey dressing at Thanksgiving.

This year, these ordinary enjoyments are especially meaningful, because for the last two years, Jessie couldn’t do any of them. Confined to bed much of that time with a constellation of mysterious symptoms that left her immobile and in pain, Jessie wasn’t sure she would ever be able to reclaim the busy, happy life she loved.

“My face was swollen; my legs were swollen. I kept falling down. My hair and nails were breaking off,” she says. “I had a lot of bad symptoms. I knew something was wrong. I went to doctor after doctor, but they all had a different opinion.”

After almost a year and a half, Jessie was diagnosed with Cushing syndrome. [...]

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Tags: Cryoablation, Cushing Syndrome, Dr Patrick Eiken, Dr Robert Shen, Endocrinology

October 17th, 2016

Diagnosis and Treatment of Chiari Malformation Spurs Nikki Prins to Reach Out to Others

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Nikki Prins enjoying time outdoors.Oct. 23, 2015, is a date that Nikole Prins will always remember. It’s the day she finally learned the reason for the bizarre symptoms she had been dealing with for more than half her life. Nikki precisely recalls the time she heard the news. It was 1:24 in the afternoon when her doctor called with the results of an MRI she had the previous day.

“I was diagnosed with Chiari malformation,” says Nikki, who lives in Owatonna, Minnesota, and received care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna. “No one wants to be told at 21 that you have a brain malformation. I cried a lot.”

For years, Nikki had experienced a range of symptoms that included lightheadedness, fainting and extremities that tingled when she stood up, as well as migraines that got worse while she was standing. As a preteen, she was told she was having syncope episodes when she got lightheaded. Later, physicians made the diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. But neither diagnosis nor any treatment had an effect on her symptoms. [...]

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Tags: Chiari malformation, Dr Grant Mallory, Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna, Neurology & Neurosurgery

October 15th, 2016

'Excited About the Future Because I Have a Future' — Finding an Answer Through Gene Sequencing

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Brentney Simon receiving her associate's degree. For 22 years, South Carolina native Brentney Simon and her family thought she was living with a fatal mitochondrial disease.

From the time she was born, Brentney has faced a host of medical concerns. At first, her doctors didn’t think she would walk or talk. Brentney proved them wrong. But over the years, she struggled with respiratory difficulties and heart problems. She contracted pneumonia several times and required multiple hospitalizations. Her physicians found a severe curve in her spine.

Through it all, Brentney never stopped fighting, living her life as fully as possible, even though participating in activities that most children and teens take for granted was a struggle. Despite her challenges, Brentney kept up with her schooling and enrolled in college, determined to get a higher education and realize her goals for a career.

Recently, Brentney’s health took a turn for the worse, and it was suggested her organs were failing. She refused to give up. Instead, Brentney came to Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus and through and Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, underwent whole-exome sequencing in search of a better explanation for her health problems.  [...]

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Tags: Center for Individualized Medicine, Gene Sequencing

October 13th, 2016

After Motorcycle Crash, Surgical-Assistant-Turned-Patient Sees Hospital With New Eyes

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After a serious motorcycle crash, Shari Callagahan gained a heightened appreciation for the comprehensive, compassionate health care provided by her employer, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.As a first surgical assistant for 23 years with Mayo Clinic Health System, Shari Callaghan was trained to provide the utmost in care to her patients. But the 55-year-old resident of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, says she didn’t fully grasp the quality of care Mayo patients receive until she became one herself.

For 31 years, Shari had been an accident-free motorcycle rider. In September 2015, she was involved in a devastating crash. Shari may never fully know what happened that day — the traumatic brain injury she sustained despite wearing a helmet wiped away her memories. But she does recall an ever-present sense of support throughout the time she spent in the hospital at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

“I have been on the other side and am thankful,” Shari says. [...]

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Tags: Dr Bradley Grewe, Emergency Department, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, trauma, Traumatic Brain Injury

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