May 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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 Read the rest of this entry »
April 1st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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. Read the rest of this entry »
March 31st, 2016 · Leave a Comment
Raegan Cury didnâ€™t worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldnâ€™t go away. She was a healthy young woman, athletic, a former gymnast, and her initial chest X-ray showed what looked like pneumonia.
Even her husband, a pulmonologist, wasn't too worried, until she received a surprising diagnosis. â€śI never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,â€ť says her husband, Dave Cury, M.D.
Raegan, who lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, had surgery to remove the cancer and woke up with just one lung, due to the extent of the disease. The surgery was followed by four rounds of chemotherapy, but in 2003, tests found cancer nodules throughout her remaining lung.Â
That was a dark period for Reagan and her family. She and her husband started their two young children, Chandler and Davis, in grief counseling.Â Read the rest of this entry »
March 23rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment
But, when she was 10, Paige inadvertently hit her left knee while bouncing on a trampoline. Though she had no visible cuts, pain radiated up and down her leg.
Later, Paige would say, â€śIt felt like I had a BB pellet stuck in there.â€ť
Her knee became so sensitive that the slightest touch or inadvertent bump would â€śbring excruciating pain, sending me to the ground, screaming and crying,â€ť she recalls.
Paige visited countless doctors near her home in Ocala, Florida, trying different medications, topical treatments and steroid injections. The pain persisted. After an exploratory surgery in 2001, doctors told her she had a neuroma, an area of increased sensitivity and pain that often develops after physical trauma to a nerve. They said removing it should resolve the issues.
It did, but only for a short time. Then the pain returned. Read the rest of this entry »
March 2nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment
Megan LaChance used to dream of being a successful business woman. But a series of events, medical and otherwise, led her on a different path â€“ an educational path that culminated with her sharing her surprising story at the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona on Jan. 1, 2016.
Even though she's just 24 years old, Megan has had a lifetime's worth of trials and tribulations.
When Megan was 19, she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer.
At the age of 21, just two months after Megan married her high school sweetheart, sheÂ was presented with another challenge. Nagging pain that she believed to be caused by sciatica turned out to be advanced bone cancer.Â Read the rest of this entry »
February 29th, 2016 · 1 Comment
Being diagnosed with bile duct cancer that eventually necessitated a liver transplant wasn't enough to keep Steve Woodford down for long. A South African native living in Utah, Steve is professional skydiving instructor, backpacker and canyon guide in Zion National Park. He has always lived on the edge with his active outdoors lifestyle. Getting sick unexpectedly during a backpacking trip to Belize two years ago seemed like just another challenge he had to overcome.
"My wife and I had just arrived in Belize to do some backpacking and visit the Mayan ruins, when I woke up itching, and noticed a yellow tint to my eyes and skin," Steve says. "I saw a local doctor for a blood test, urine test and ultrasound, and was told I had hepatitis C and needed to go straight home for immediate treatment. Little did I know what was to come after returning home to Utah."Â Read the rest of this entry »
February 22nd, 2016 · 1 Comment
Bridget Clausen refers to her seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as "the love of my life." She treasures each of them and is proud to have a great-granddaughter named after her. The joy of a namesake is especially sweet, because when Bridget learned her granddaughter was pregnant, she wasn't sure she would be here to meet the baby.
At that time, Bridget was being treated for melanoma that had spread to several places in her body. Her treatment choices were dwindling. She decided to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to see if doctors could offer any other options. As a result of that visit, Bridget enrolled in a clinical trial of a new drug. It turned out to be the answer she needed.
The drug, now available under the brand name Keytruda, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Â in December 2015 as a first-line treatment for advanced melanoma. Interestingly, the foundation of the drug's development began in a Mayo Clinic lab more than 15 years ago. In Bridget's case, it successfully shrunk her tumors and stopped the spread of cancer. It also gave her the opportunity to meet her new great-granddaughter.Â Read the rest of this entry »
February 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
Bill McWhite was vacationing along the Texas Gulf Coast â€” normally, a time to relax â€” when his body refused to let him unwind. Instead, the 69-year-old Hayward, Wisconsin, man experienced a flare up of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, and found himself in the local hospital.
â€śI had congestion in my chest and was having problems breathing,â€ť Bill says. â€śThey gave me a couple medications, and, within two hours, everything was fine.â€ť
That incident was motivation for Bill â€” a pack-a-day smoker for 55 years â€” to quit smoking and to seek care with a lung specialist back home. The decision would ultimately lead his doctors to find that he had lung cancer, through a new screening program that identified the cancer at an early, treatable stage. Â Read the rest of this entry »
January 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
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 friendâ€™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.
â€śMy Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldnâ€™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,â€ť Yadira says. â€śWhile itâ€™s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and Iâ€™m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasnâ€™t supposed to be here.â€ť
Yadiraâ€™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 motherâ€™s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease. Read the rest of this entry »
January 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment
Michael Slag holds in his hands a tumor â€“ 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 Michaelâ€™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. Read the rest of this entry »