March 30th, 2017
For years, Rosa Isern has thoroughly enjoyed her job with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, where soldiers, airmen and their families purchase goods and services. Her work has taken her around the world on several tours overseas, including stints in Iraq, Afghanistan, Greenland and Djibouti.
In 2015, however, Rosa's future became uncertain when she learned she had a large colon polyp that was at risk to become cancerous. Doctors thought they might need to remove part of her colon. But thanks to a minimally invasive procedure available at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rosa was able to have the threatening polyp successfully removed without surgery. That allowed her to get back to doing the work she loves. Read the rest of this entry »
June 9th, 2016
Deciding to undergo a surgery to remove your colon is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it was one that Luis Coriano faced earlier this year. And he and his family wanted to make sure they made the right call.
Luis is affected by a rare genetic disorder called familial adenomatous polyposis that causes thousands of polyps to grow in the colon and ultimately leads to cancer. He knew that a prophylactic surgery to remove the diseased organ was the only way to prevent cancer from ravaging his body.
As daunting as the surgery was, however, more worrisome to Luis, was what came after the surgery. Namely, living with a stoma and an ostomy bag. Read the rest of this entry »
March 10th, 2015
Twelve years after her diagnosis, Jane Jacobs knows the value of finding and treating colon cancer early and is participating in Fight Colorectal Cancer's #StrongArmSelfie campaign.
Jane Jacobs understands the squeamishness some people have as they consider going through tests to check for colon cancer. "No one wants to think about or talk about their colon," she says. "You don't see it. Its job is hardly glamorous. It tends to be part of the body people would rather forget about."
But after being diagnosed and successfully treated for early-stage colon cancer at age 40, Jane, who works in Media Support Services at Mayo Clinic, strongly encourages others to get past their hesitancy and get a colonoscopy.
"The bottom line is that the colon cancer screening process is not as bad as people make it out to be," she says. "It's a fairly straightforward test that can make the difference between an early diagnosis, when the disease can often be more easily treated, and a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness." Read the rest of this entry »
March 7th, 2014
When I arrived at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., that September day almost five years ago, my care for colon cancer was fractured and really a mess. I had suffered through a second bout of the disease, when the cancer jumped from the colon to the lung. After surgery to bisect the upper lobe of the left lung, I had just embarked on a six-month program of chemotherapy.
A local hospital had bungled the pathology from the original colon surgery in February 2008, discovered only when I went to a facility in Texas for a second opinion. As it turned out, at the time of the original colon resection, a trace of cancer was evident in a lymph node, doctors there discovered. Had my oncologist at the time possessed that information, he would have immediately placed me on a course of chemo. He didn't, and suddenly I had become a Stage IV cancer patient for the worst of reasons: medical error.
Just as bad, the surgeon who performed the original colon surgery did such a poor job sewing up my abdomen that it created an incision hernia. When she fixed the hernia, she told me she had inserted some mesh to pull the area together. That turned out to be false. The hernia surgery had to performed again. This time she demurred and sent me to another surgeon, who did the job properly.
No apology from the doctor or the local hospital has ever been forthcoming.
In the late summer of 2009, the second opinion confirming the spot on my lung, the biopsy, the surgery itself, and my first chemo sessions were reminded me of the times I was given flu shots in the pharmacy of a Safeway. My anxiety was at an untenable level, and as now the CEO of my own health care, I had learned an important lesson: the more doctors, clinics and hospitals involved without access to the same computer records, the greater chance for something to go wrong.
May 31st, 2013
Dorylee Baez lives fearlessly.
Whether flying down a zip line or organizing a pancreatic cancer patient group in Puerto Rico, she plunges into life with zest.
The 31-year-old academic advisor at Universidad del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico, is known as someone who is tenacious, overcoming whatever obstacles get in her way to achieve and achieve her goals.
For instance, Baez attended college while simultaneously working and caring for her ailing mother who was suffering from lupus. After her mother died, Baez pressed on to honor her memory and completed a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in college-level education administration. But then, at 29, Baez learned she had a large tumor in her pancreas. Not the diagnosis she was expecting when she went to the doctor.
Tags: American Indians, chemotherapy, colon cancer, FL, Florida, gastroenterology, Hematology, Hepatology, liver cancer, MayoClinicFL, mononucleosis, oncology, pancreatic cancer, patient story, radiation therapy, Whipple Procedure
March 21st, 2013
Sue Willingham remembers the May 2010 day well. She was getting ready to take her two children to school. But before leaving the house, she did what any mom might – use the restroom.
But then she noticed she’d lightly soiled her undergarments. Only she didn’t remember it happening.
At 45, Willingham was the picture of health. She ate well, exercised and stayed up on doctor visits. But in that moment, something changed. She called her husband. “I remember telling him I’m scared,” she says.
But then Willingham, who describes herself as someone who is not easily rattled, tried to rationalize the accident, chalking it up to the six fiber pills she’d taken the day before to combat constipation.
“Being one that does not jump to conclusions or get upset or scared of anything easily, I said this is ridiculous, crazy, there is nothing wrong with me. I have no cancer in my family. I have no anything…” But today she admits, “Maybe subconsciously I had been aware of what he had gone through the year before.”
August 9th, 2011
A radio and television broadcaster whose career has spanned more than four decades, Mort Crim has spent a lifetime telling other people’s stories. But in retirement, Crim, who was Paul Harvey’s permanent vacation fill-in and the voice of ABC Radio during the first moon landing, is telling his own story — about surviving cancer and living a full life after the disease.
After treatment for both prostate and colon cancer — and supporting his wife, Irene (Renée) Crim, during treatment for breast cancer — Crim says he hopes his experiences can inspire other cancer survivors. He credits Mayo Clinic for his good health today.
May 16th, 2011
By Alex White
Roger Lipelt shares his story about colon cancer and how the team work between Mayo Clinic and his local hospital has given him the opportunity to keep coaching as an accomplished Minnesota Football Association Hall of Famer. Today, he is an active member and leading this years kids run for “Get Your Rear in Gear”.
March 1st, 2011
Scott Hennen, a radio talk show host from Fargo, ND, had surgery at Mayo Clinic yesterday to remove his colon, which had developed several sites with precancerous cells related to his ulcerative colitis, which was first diagnosed in 1997.
Scott had previously described his reasons for being public about his medical condition in this post. In the video below, he offers more background on his medical history and why he came to Mayo Clinic for his operation:
July 16th, 2009
Editor's Note: Madeline Stockbridge submitted this story by email after receiving the print edition of the Sharing Mayo Clinic newsletter. She wrote "After reading the latest issue of Sharing Mayo Clinic, I had to submit my story. Ning Chieng's words 'The sky seems bluer and the air smells fresher.' were exactly what I said to my husband after this year's cancer free check-up at Mayo -a five year milestone. I owe my health to the Mayo Clinic."
“Promise me you’ll get check-ups” my brother, Howie, pleaded as he was dying of colon cancer at the age of 35. This was in the 1970’s and even though we’d lost our mom to this cancer 5 years earlier, little was known about the genetic link. I tried to keep my promise by making an appointment with an internist soon after losing my brother. I was 33 at the time and the doctor examined me but then said, “You’re a perfectly healthy young woman but if you’re going to go home and worry about cancer I can’t help you.” I felt like a hypochondriac and avoided going back.
Several years later I had symptoms that I could not ignore and went to a very caring, concerned doctor who ordered tests to discover that I had precancerous tissue in my uterus and needed a hysterectomy. Coming so close to cancer made me think about my brother and I decided I should check out having routine screenings for colon cancer. I started having colonoscopies every 3 years as was the protocol.
In 2004 the gastroenterologist stood in the doorway of the recovery room after completing my colonoscopy and informed my husband and me that I had cancer and needed my entire colon removed. We went home stunned and in shock and phoned our daughter living in OR who was expecting to see us at the airport the next day. She immediately researched on the computer and with my husband’s cousin who is a doctor. When she called us back it was with recommendations of medical facilities who knew about genetic colon cancer. We decided on the Mayo Clinic as it is closer to our home in WI and in my insurance network. As my husband called the clinic I’m thinking, how will we get in we’re just ordinary people not the Shah of Iran. They took us immediately and were so incredibly concerned about my welfare that we were instantly bowled over. When my husband’s cousin recommended a particular surgeon, we timidly asked if it would be possible to have her do my surgery and the nurse said, “Let me check her schedule.” The operation was a success and they left me with a foot of colon and a normal life. Most importantly we learned all about the genetic syndrome I have called Lynch and the importance of annual screening.
I’m healthy and alive and grateful for the research my family did plus the outstanding care I received and still receive at the Mayo Clinic. My mother and brother did not get the opportunity to see the advances research about genetic conditions has yielded. My brother didn’t know it at the time but he saved my life, which is his legacy.
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