Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff


October 11th, 2016

Teen Finds a Positive Way Forward After a Brain Cancer Diagnosis

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Diagnosed with a stage-four brain tumor, 13-year-old Connor Johnson is taking his treatment at Mayo Clinic in stride and looking forward to a future of helping others.

When he was born 13 years ago, Connor Johnson was a "miracle baby,’ according to his parents. Kathleen and Curtiss Johnson had struggled for years to become and stay pregnant. They had given up hope, when they discovered they were nearly four months along.

The miracle of Connor’s life took on new poignancy in the fall of 2015, when the young teen was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood brain cancer. Despite the seriousness of the tumor, an intensive treatment regimen at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus involving brain surgery and proton beam therapy, provided Connor and his family the promise of a brighter future.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr. Amulya Nageswara Rao, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Medulloblastoma, Proton Beam Therapy

September 29th, 2016

A Male Mammogram Brings Relief, Life and Marketing Lessons

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

martyweintraug805aBy Marty Weintraub

Editor’s Note: Marty Weintraub, an entrepreneur, author, speaker and musician, came to Mayo Clinic in 2015 for a mammogram after noticing a lump on his chest. He wrote a compelling account of the experience on his blog, and gave us permission to repost his story. 

From a San Francisco truffle shop to an upscale St. Paul grocery store, I’ve been writing to share inspiration at the intersection of life experiences and my chosen profession, marketing. So it is with a keen eye, open heart and tuned ear I travel the world day-by-day, camera in hand.

Who would have thought we would unearth profound lessons of empathy, immediately transferable to life and career, following an unexpected health issue and resulting treks to the Mayo Clinic. The experience I am about to share will have an indelible impact on me as a man and a marketer.

Mayo Clinic is a shining city of healing and light. Each year more than a million precious human spirits find their way to Mayo for care. Patients flock from all 50 American states and 140+ countries, driven on a highly personal mission of body, soul and heart. The 6,600 staff physicians, scientists, residents and fellows across multiple campuses see most diagnoses over time.

Mayo helps to soothe nervous visitors with its international-class artistic aesthetic. Patients and care givers experience everything from Warhols to the carved mother-of-pearl box and book donated by King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan. Suspended from the Gonda Building great room ceiling looms a staggeringly beautiful, Chihuly glass installation. Beauty engulfs the visitor, easing fears and concerns – if even for a few minutes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Breast Clinic, Dr Loni Neal, Mammogram

July 27th, 2016

After Learning Flu-Like Symptoms Were Actually Thyroid Cancer, Mother Shares Advice to Help Save Others

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

BethSpreitzer805It was 2012, and Beth Spreitzer was busy with life. Mothering her fourth-grade daughter and taking care of a household left no time to get sick. However, after experiencing what she thought were too many common symptoms – fatigue, chills, fever – and not improving, Beth thought something else must be wrong.

"In the past, the most I'd ever have to fight off was a cold. I attributed my recent symptoms to being busy and getting older," Beth says.

During a routine visit, her gynecologist noticed her thyroid was inflamed and tender to the touch. This butterfly-shaped gland rests in the bottom of the neck, around the windpipe. It has two side lobes that you can't feel when the thyroid is its normal size. The gland secretes hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

Her doctor asked if she'd been sick. Beth confirmed that yes, she suffered from a fever and chills a couple of weeks earlier and even had a cold sore, which for her was uncommon. But she admits she didn't think much about the conversation afterward.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr John Casler, Dr Michael Meneffee, Dr Steven Buskirk, Dr Victor Bernet, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Thyroid cancer

July 23rd, 2016

‘All We Want Is for Evie to Reach 100 Percent of Her Potential’

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Evie McLeish at Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Center. The night before 8-year-old Evie McLeish’s brain surgery, her Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., told her parents, "I don’t want you to think of this as the end. This is just the beginning of a marathon."

The procedure was the start of Evie’s long-term care plan for treatment of a brain tumor. Along with the brain surgery, that plan included chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Due to her age and the location of her tumor, though, her doctors recommended Evie receive proton beam therapy instead of conventional radiation therapy.

The timing was right. Mayo Clinic had just begun a new Proton Beam Therapy Program at its Rochester, Minnesota, campus. And not only was this unique treatment readily available to Evie, it was relatively close to her family’s home in Ankeny, Iowa, just a three-hour drive away.

"We were dealt a big blow with Evie’s tumor," says her mother, Ali McLeish. "But there have been silver linings in this whole thing, including that we could get proton beam therapy without having to travel across the country."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: brain tumor, Dr David Daniels, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Medullablastoma, Proton Beam Therapy

June 25th, 2016

‘How’d We Get So Lucky?’ — Proton Beam Therapy Available at the Right Time for Jackson

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Proton beam therapy was available at the right time for Jackson Fisher.

For two weeks, 14-year-old Jackson Fisher was plagued by headaches, double-vision, nausea and weight loss. His parents, Michelle and Patrick Fisher, weren’t sure what was wrong. But when Jackson came home one evening completely exhausted after lacrosse practice, they decided it was time to find out what was going on. The next day, they took Jackson to the emergency room.

What doctors found during that ER visit triggered a series of events the Fishers never could have anticipated and that eventually led the family to Mayo Clinic’s Proton Beam Therapy Program, where Jackson received treatment for a brain tumor.

“Every single person we’ve met at Mayo Clinic has been amazing, and we feel like we were meant to meet them,” says Michelle. “His doctors told us they were going to fight for Jackson. They’ve been forthcoming and explained things simply and honestly. I never second guessed his care. Being at Mayo Clinic has been the most positive experience of our lives.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr. Amulya Nageswara Rao, Dr David Daniels, Dr Nadia Laack, Nancy Heinzelman, Proton Beam Therapy, Randy McKeeman

June 9th, 2016

An Answer for Luis – Surgeons Remove Polyp-Riddled Colon, Restore Function and Hope

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Luis Coriano meets with his medical team. 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 »

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Tags: colorectal surgery, Dr Eric Dozois, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, Colon Cancer

June 4th, 2016

Moving Beyond a Painful Decade – New Technology Offers Respite From Debilitating Leg Pain

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Gary Sorcic found relief for extreme leg pain.In the fall of 2014, Gary Sorcic was desperate. Severe, unrelenting pain in his legs had tormented him for 10 years. He was ready to take extreme measures.

"I told my doctor that if he had to cut my spinal cord and put me in a wheelchair to get rid of the pain, that's what I would do," Gary says.

Fortunately, that was not necessary. Instead, Gary found and enrolled in a clinical research trial at Mayo Clinic studying the effectiveness of a new technology to relieve nerve pain such as his. It made a tremendous difference. "I never imagined my legs feeling this good again," he says. "The study was a godsend for me." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: chronic pain, clinical trial, Dr Charles Loprinzi, nerve pain, Pain Rehabilitation, Scrambler Therapy

May 31st, 2016

Mayo Physician Is One of the First Proton Beam Patients in Arizona

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. Leslie Milde was one of the first proton beam therapy patients in Arizona. People often don't hear the phrase, "You are the most important person in my life today," especially from those other than family. However, Leslie Milde, M.D., has heard it often — from her patients. She is well aware of the significance of her role in the operating room, and the apprehension felt by patients about to undergo surgery.

Now the tables are turned, and as one of the first five patients undergoing proton beam therapy at the newly opened Mayo Clinic Building in Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life — the team of specialists treating her spinal meningioma, a condition where tumors arise from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Leslie Milde, Dr Naresh Patel, Dr Sujay Vora, Proton Beam Therapy, Spinal Meningioma, oncology, radiation therapy

May 21st, 2016

Discerning Physician Turns to Mayo Clinic for Cancer Care

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. James Biles turned to Mayo Clinic after his cancer diagnosis. 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."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cancer, Chondrosarcoma, Dr David Lewallen, Dr Franklin Sim, Dr Peter Rose, Hemipelvectomy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

April 1st, 2016

A New Weapon in the Arsenal for Patient With Stubborn Cancer: Proton Beam Therapy

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic


Audra Popp has a rare tumor – 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: anaplastic PXA, clinical trials, craniotomy, Dr Jan Buckner, Dr Nadia Laack, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Proton Beam Therapy

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