Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, sheâd made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.
Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling âoff.â Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.Â [...]
Jim Biles, M.D., understands cancer treatment. A urologist who specializes in cancer surgery, he has spent his career focused on helping people receive the cancer care they need. So at age 72, when Dr. Biles received his own diagnosis of an aggressive type of cancer, he knew how critical it would be to get treatment from someone with experience and expertise.
"When I found out I had a bone tumor, I started hunting around to see who could do the surgery. It turned out that there are very few people in the world I would trust with it," he says. "Not many do it, and even fewer have the experience that Dr. Sim does. He is the kingpin."
Dr. Sim is Franklin Sim, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. After a consultation with Dr. Sim, Jim decided to go through with a complex surgery at Mayo to treat his cancer.
"Being a doctor, I was pretty picky about all the details being well managed," he says. "It was exceptional. I really couldn't have had a better experience."Â [...]
For years, Lucy Lorden suffered from an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. But one April morning in 2014, the Ormond Beach, Florida, elementary school teacher was barely able to walk from the parking lot to her classroom.
Thinking she had pneumonia, Lucy, then 56, went to see her primary care doctor. âThe doctor told me to go to the emergency room right away,â she recalls. âMy heart was beating at 192 beats per minute.â
At the local hospital, doctors diagnosed Lucy with atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper heart chambers, the atria, beat irregularly.
Lucy visited a local cardiologist, who prescribed several medications to regulate her rapid heartbeat and her thyroid levels. He advised follow-up every three months and once she turned 60, blood thinners to prevent a stroke. Unfortunately, just a few months shy of her 57th birthday, she would need more than simple follow-up. [...]
When 67-year-old Stefan Gyorkos of St. Augustine, Florida, noticed swelling in his feet several years ago, he didn't think much of it. After all, as chef at a local golf and country club, he is on his feet for hours at a time.
That seemingly innocent ailment, however, would eventually lead to a series of tests and ultimately a diagnosis of a rare disease known as amyloidosis for which he required a bone marrow transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.
Amyloidosis occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in the organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is usually produced in the bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ in the body. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure. While there's no cure for the disease, the symptoms often can be managed, reducing the production of amyloid protein.Â [...]
I got the news early yesterday in an email from the Cowansâ daughter, DeDe Shour:
One of the last questions a week ago my Dad asked me was, "Do you think there will be a piano in heaven I can play?" (Of course our Dad could never pass up a piano without playing it). I told him I was certain there was something similar to a piano but much more glorious and that I was sure he would be joining with the angels playing it for the Lord.
So if you happen to hear some rag-time music floating through the air, smile....cause it's just our dad playing the piano as he brings joy to those who have gone before him.
Mr. Cowan certainly brought joy to millions while he was here. So with DeDeâs permission, I want to share some memories of Marlow and also let you remember (or see for the first time) for yourself.Â [...]
When Mayo Clinic lung transplant patient Larry Rawdon heard the Ritz Chamber Players perform on the Florida campus, he was captivated. As a retired cellist who played on Broadway in shows such as Cats, he has a deep appreciation for the power of music and what it can do to lift a personâs spirits.
âMusic is oxygen for the soul,â says Rawdon. âIt has a way of transporting the listener to a better place. For the period of time one is listening to a musical performance, the listener seemingly doesnât have a care in the world. What better place than a clinic setting to offer this?â
Rawdon has often relied on music to take away the cares in his world over the years. In late 2005 he had a life-saving, single-lung transplant to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal disease of unknown cause. Two years later, he needed another transplant due to chronic rejection. In February 2008, he had a double-lung transplant at Mayo Clinicâs Florida campus.
During Rawdonâs time at Mayo, staff who knew he was a professional cellist often asked if he would play at the clinic some day. He said he would and hoped it might be with the Ritz Chamber Players. Through his music connections, Rawdon met Terrance Patterson, director of the Ritz Chamber Players, who invited him to perform at their next Mayo Clinic concert.
So on May 27, Rawdon joined two violinists, two violists and another cellist in Mayo Clinicâs Kinne Auditorium in a performance of Johannes Brahmsâ String Sextet in B Flat Major, Op. 18. The music brought a standing ovation from the audience, many of whom were patients, staff and physicians of Mayo Clinicâs Transplant Center. For Rawdon, the performance was much more than beautiful music â it was an affirmation of survival and a celebration of life that brought visible emotional element to Mayoâs Humanities in Medicine program.
The Ritz Chamber Players regularly appear at Mayoâs monthly concerts, which are made possible by benefactor donations. Based in Jacksonville, the group is the nationâs first chamber music ensemble comprised solely of accomplished African-American musicians.
Before October 2015, Brennan Farley had never broken a bone in his body. That changed dramatically when a horrific vehicle accident landed the 30-year-old farm worker in Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, for two months.
Due to Brennan's extensive injuries, doctors were concerned he might not be able to walk again. But with the help of a supportive care team and the love and encouragement of his fiancĂ©e, Kayla, Brennan progressed enough in his recovery to go home in December 2015. And to walk down the aisle at the end of his wedding ceremony a month later, with a little help and with his new bride by his side.
"The people at Saint Marys really cared about me," Brennan says. "They want their work to be great, and it shows. It really shows." And he would certainly need their best efforts.Â [...]
For six months, Chad Thompson slept sitting up to ease debilitating headaches caused by a tumor growing on a nerve in his head. Now, after a successful surgery at Mayo Clinicâs Florida campus in March, the 40-year-old Jacksonville resident is having conversations with friends and co-workers that he never expected.
âPeople keep asking, âWhen are you going to have that surgery,ââ says Chad, a married father of three children and an executive at an aerospace company. âTheyâre shocked when I say, âI already had it,â and Iâm not sure they believe me.â
The reason for this response is that he has no visible scars from the operation, which his surgeon, John Casler, M.D., performed with help from the Anatomage âvirtual dissectionâ machine in the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation Center.Â [...]
Camden Christopherson is an athlete: volleyball, basketball, softball, cross-country. She does them all. So when doctors told her, at age 13, that she had to wear a brace for 22 hours a day to combat scoliosis, and surgery to fuse her spine was likely in her future, Camden was devastated.
These treatments could help correct the severe spinal curve that had developed quickly during a growth spurt, her doctors said. But Camden didn't want to give up her flexibility and freedom of movement. And her mother, Teresa Christopherson, wasn't ready to accept that a brace and fusion surgery were her daughter's only choices.
"I wanted a second opinion," Teresa says. "I wasn't going to go forward based on one recommendation, so we went to Mayo."
At Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, mother and daughter met A. Noelle Larson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, who discussed another possibility with them: anterior vertebral body tethering, or VBT, a new surgery for scoliosis that doesn't involve fusing vertebrae together. It was just the answer they needed.Â [...]
I look forward to spring on the Mayo Clinic downtown campus in Rochester. The grass finally turns green after wintering under the snow, the flowers make their appearance and add an amazing burst of color to the campus, and the peregrine falcons return to their home atop of the Guggenheim Building. I enjoy watching the little fledglings turn from snowy white balls of fluff into adult falcons. This year, there are three fledglings to watch.
Thanks to a âfalcon camâ that is fed live to the Mayo television system, visitors and staff are able to watch the falcons go about their daily life. A television with the channel set to the falcon cam can be found in the subway of the Mayo Building, next to the patient cafeteria. On occasion, I pass the TV on my way to and from meetings.
When I pass by early in the morning, the fledglings are frequently sitting at the edge of the nest looking for their mom to bring breakfast. Some mornings when I walk by mom has already finished her hunting expedition and is feeding her family.
As the days go by, the birds have less white fluff on their bodies and more of the look of an adult peregrine falcon. As I walked by the other morning (mid-June), I realized they are nearly full-grown. It wonât be long before they head out on their own and the nest will again be emptyâŠuntil next spring.
On a side note: each year, Mayo asks people to submit names for the new falcons. This year, the names were announced on the day the baby birds were banded. The names are: Thunderbolt, Aeroslick and Taraja.
Barb Sorensen is a consultant in the Department of Public Affairs in Rochester.
For years, puzzling symptoms and a troubling medical condition had stalked their family. Growing up in Taiwan, Vivian was athletic and seemed to be healthy. However, she began to lose strength in her early 30s and went to the doctor with her father, Paul. Vivian was told she had a heart condition. "But no one really explained the problem to me," she says.
At first, Vivian was able to dismiss the symptoms. She even competed in a triathlon at age 40. But as she watched another member of her family struggle with symptoms she recognized in herself, her own condition became harder to ignore.
Over time, Vivian's symptoms had taken hold of her life, affecting her daily activities. She was not able to talk for more than 30 seconds without losing breath. While eating dinner, Vivian would often have to lie down for half an hour before returning to her meal because she would become so tired and lightheaded. Vivian's fear of having arrhythmia attacks also hindered her social life.
"I was afraid to go out on my own even to take a simple walk in the park," she says. "I didn't dare do that by myself."Â [...]
I struggled for years with extreme fatigue, major skin problems, muscle weakness, escalating eye issues, and a host of other unexplained symptoms. I moved to Georgia with more and more symptoms. I developed relationships with new doctors and developed new symptoms â seizures and heart-related syncope. I went to see a neurologist, who began to run tests. In the meantime, I had regular quarterly blood panels by my regular physician, who upon reporting to me by phone noted no irregularities. I was told time and time again to stop chasing a diagnosis. My family continued to watch my decline.
After running numerous tests, my neurologist could only ascertain that I may have had some mini-strokes. My neurologist referred me to a major university hospital.Â After two visits, and being practically laughed out of the place, I began to have serious doubts about my symptoms and began to believe the many specialists and psychologists who told me it was emotional response.Â [...]
Maryâs journey began when she was in her mid-30s and started to notice a slight trembling in her upper extremities. âI thought I just got excited or nervous, scared or tired,â she says. âWhen others started remarking on my tremors, I decided to seek a medical explanation.âÂ [...]
When Sean Murphy's chronic headaches set in, they first bothered him after physical exertion, then after a stressful day at work.
Within months, the headaches were constant, always localized in the back of his head. The pain became debilitating.
Murphy consulted his family doctor and was referred to a neurologist. His hometown physicians were stumped.
Murphy was referred to Mayo Clinic, where he was diagnosed with Chiari malformation type I, a rare condition in which the brain tissue at the back of the head protrudes into the spinal canal. The disorder causes a variety of neurological symptoms, but is treatable.
Mayo Clinic physicians initially sought to relieve Murphy's symptoms with medication, but as his health continued to worsen they decided surgery was his best option. [...]
Have chronic cluster headaches. 47 years. Any info on this exhsusting pain would be helpfull. Tried evrtything. Live in connecticut.
I don't even know how to begin to tell this story, but I know I have to write down what has happened in my life over the past few years. It has been a roller coaster ride with new situations and events like never before.
In April 2005, while camping with my husband Noble and our dog Sam and cat JoJo at Lincoln Rock State Park, I had a weird vertigo experience which passed quickly but then some slight dizziness reoccurred off and on for about a year. After seeing several doctors I was diagnosed with an inner ear virus which they said would go away and it did.
For 33-year-old Tara Brigham of Jacksonville, Florida, living with a heart condition since birth wasn't something that was going to get in the way of living an active normal life. In fact, she says the heart transplant she received six years ago as a result of her condition has made her life even more fulfilling.
A Minnesota native, Tara was diagnosed with enlargement of the heart during a routine checkup when she was 1 year old. While she had not had any symptoms of a heart problem since birth, the enlargement was significant enough that her physician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus suggested that a biopsy of her heart should be done right away. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body to vital organs.
Tara's heart was monitored closely by her doctors at Mayo Clinic and later a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy specialist at the University of Minnesota. Since Tara was an active, healthy child otherwise, and what was known about her condition in children was limited, she was not put on medication, but doctors advised that she avoid strenuous activities.Â [...]
Look at Carl White today and you see a busy, content family man. A husband and father of two, Carl recently completed his bachelor's degree and now is pursuing a master's in social work. When he's not in school or studying, you'll likely find him either at his job as a health unit coordinator at Mayo Clinic Hopsital, Saint Marys Campus, in Rochester, Minnesota, or spending time with his family.
At first glance, Carl may seem like any typical, hardworking dad. Rewind a few years, though, and you'll understand just how far Carl has come and the enormous struggles he has had to overcome.
Back in 2009, Carl was consumed with chronic pain â the result of two serious accidents. He attempted to cope by taking steady doses of strong pain medication, along with a significant amount of alcohol. But it provided little relief.
"I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do," Carl says. "Time seemed to go so slowly while waiting for a magic bullet, a new medical breakthrough that would take all the pain away. I believed that all I needed was to have the right surgery or find the right pill, and I would be cured."
Â "I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do."
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Angry and discouraged after several years of dealing with the pain, he was not receptive when a doctor at Mayo Clinic referred him to Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Center.Â [...]
Audra Popp has a rare tumor â anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, also known as anaplastic PXA. Only a handful of people are diagnosed with this condition each year. Audra is the first person at Mayo Clinic with anaplastic PXA to be treated with proton beam therapy.
Audra had 20 proton beam therapy sessions to try to destroy fast-growing cells possibly left behind after surgery.
But proton beam therapy is just the latest step in the battle against Audra's tumor. She's had five craniotomies since 2001, and she has a scar from her right ear to the crown of her head as evidence. She had surgeries at Mayo in 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2015. She also has had three regimens of chemotherapy through the years and six weeks of radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic in 2007.
The tumor has become more aggressive. And each time her surgeons think they have it completely removed, it comes back. [...]