Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cancer Archive

January 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mother and Daughter Winning Battle With Cancer Despite Family History of the Disease

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Yadira and Valeria Zepeda are mother and daughter cancer survivors. 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 friend’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.

“My Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldn’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,” Yadira says. “While it’s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and I’m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Yadira’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 mother’s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant, Bilateral Masectomay, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, Dr Candido Rivera, Dr. Gerardo Colon-Otero, Dr Sikander Ailawashi, multiple myeloma


January 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

3-D Print of Patient’s Tumor Helps Surgeons Prepare, Speeds Recovery

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Michael Slag holds a 3-D image of his lungMichael Slag holds in his hands a tumor – 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 Michael’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 »

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Tags: 3-D printing, Dr Jane Matsumoto, Dr Shanda Blackmon, lung cancer, thoracic surgery


December 28th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

There’s No Breaking Leo DeGoursey’s Stride

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

LeoDegoursey805A minimally invasive procedure allows Leo DeGoursey to move on from lung cancer surgery without missing a beat.

Leo DeGoursey is used to being busy. Until age 50, he enjoyed a career as a printer. Then he made a switch and spent the next two decades developing curriculum, equipping a lab, and teaching printing at a local college. During that time, he also worked with handicapped students and learned sign language.

Now, at age 85, Leo enjoys woodworking and playing the banjo. He's active in his church, exercises regularly, enjoys socializing and spending time with his family, and takes care of all of his own household maintenance and chores.

That's impressive for anyone. But Leo's active lifestyle is all the more noteworthy because in early 2015, he had surgery at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus to remove a cancerous tumor from his lung. Within days, he returned to his usual routines without a hitch.

"Since I had never had an operation, I expected that this surgery would result in pain, perhaps severe pain, upon recovery. To my amazement I did not experience any pain," Leo says. "Two days after the surgery, I was released from the hospital and shopped at a pharmacy on my way to my daughter’s house to buy some pain medicine. I never needed it. Never once did I feel like I had been through surgery."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Matthew Thomas, lung cancer, minimally invasive surgery, U-VATS


December 10th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Complementary Medicine Provides Healing Touch for Patient in Final Days

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Karl Weissig enjoying music and nature.Marilyn and David Weissing, both Mayo Clinic employees, knew something was wrong when their 19-year-old son, Karl, asked to be taken to the hospital one summer evening in 2014. Karl, always healthy and active, rarely complained about anything. So David immediately drove him to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus.

Karl, a beekeeper, was the third of eight children raised on a hobby farm in Winona County, Minnesota.  Karl developed an interest in sustainable farming as a young child and had worked with several local farmers to expand his knowledge and expertise.

He spent the winter after his high school graduation managing an organic dairy herd in Missouri. By the following July, he was back home working a construction job, making a movie with some friends, and playing in a bluegrass band with his brothers.

Karl was initially diagnosed with atypical hepatitis A, possibly acquired a few months earlier during an outbreak at a restaurant. When his liver started to fail, Karl was put on the liver transplant list and, miraculously, received a new liver before a month had passed.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Accupressure, Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Hepatitis A, Histiocytic Sarcoma, liver transplant, Massage Therapy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center


November 13th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Recovery Turns Into Cancer Battle for Avid Runner

By cindyweiss cindyweiss

Judi, center, with Dr. Horacio Asbun, Mayo Clinic surgeon (center), and her grandson Jude, at the 2014 Pancreatic Cancer Walk.

Judi Zitiello with her grandson, Jude, and Dr. Horacio Asbun, Mayo Clinic surgeon , at the 2014 Pancreatic Cancer Walk.

An avid runner, Judi Zitiello, 66, was forced into a six-week hiatus when she developed a meniscus tear in early 2014. The retired financial executive was always active – exercising, hosting dinner parties, and volunteering to run the JT Townsend Foundation, a Jacksonville, Florida, philanthropic organization.

Judi wasn’t too concerned about the downtime at first. She knew her body would take time to heal. But the pain lingered. Then Judi began losing weight and her energy waned.

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Tags: Dr. Horacio Asbun, Dr Kristina DeMatas, Florida Campus, Pancreas, pancreatic cancer, purple strides, Whipple


November 5th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Gut Feeling, Being in Right Place May Have Saved Lynn Witherspoon

By HoytFinnamore HoytFinnamore

Lynn Witherspoon and her husband moved to Jacksonville to be close to Mayo.When Lynn Witherspoon was diagnosed with breast cancer, she wanted to move quickly. And she wanted to move to a place she felt would give her the care she needed. So she and her husband moved from their home in North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida, to be near Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

"We live in a rural area, and I felt more comfortable going to Mayo for my cancer care," she says. She'd had relatives treated at Mayo. "So I knew what it offered and its reputation."

Lynn was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. She completed five months of chemotherapy, and had a lumpectomy and removal of some lymph nodes, followed by radiation therapy. Something told her she should take another step to protect her health.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Dr Matthew Robertson III, Dr Sanjay Bagaria, Dr Saranya Chumsri, Florida Campus, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Lumpectomy, Ovarian Cancer


October 27th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Be the Match: It Could Save a Life, Like Christina’s

By uthangaraj uthangaraj

Bone marrow transplant patient Christina Woodside

Christina Woodside starts off the YouTube video that chronicles her health journey by saying, “My family is like every other average family in America.” Her story, however is anything but average.

As part of an active family, Christina, along with her husband and their five children, enjoyed running, biking, fishing and snow sports.

In 2013, on the day after Thanksgiving, that active lifestyle was interrupted by what Christina initially thought was strep throat. She went to urgent care at a clinic in her hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. A strep test came back negative. But her white blood cell count was extremely high, and that pointed to a more serious problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Be the Match, bone marrow transplant, Dr Shahrukh Hashmi, Leukemia, Marrow Donor Registry


October 26th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Clinical Trial Testing Virus Therapy Gives New Hope to Melanoma Patient

By pscotti pscotti

FrankMosely805A diagnosis of stage IV melanoma can be a frightening prospect, with surgery and chemotherapy often an integral part of the treatment regimen. But Frank Moseley, a Jacksonville, Florida, native with an advanced melanoma diagnosis, was eager to do whatever it takes, even going beyond the norm, to give him the best chance of recovery.

So when Frank agreed to become the first participant in a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus and be injected with a form of the herpes virus to treat his melanoma, it was no surprise that he was confident it would work.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: clinical trial, Melanoma


October 22nd, 2015 · 1 Comment

Rallying Around ‘Jack’ – Buying Time for 11-Year-Old Who Touched the Hearts of His Care Team

By uthangaraj uthangaraj

Jack and his family with Jack's care teamHe melts hearts with his infectious smile, cheerful attitude and frequent magic tricks.

But the slogan on Haonan Jiang's T-shirt, which reads "Tough as Nails," is a more accurate summation of his spirit, and the fight he and his family have been waging.

The 11-year-old from Beijing, China, prefers to be called "Jack." He is suffering from what is known as an anaplastic astrocytoma, a grade 3 malignant tumor, according to his doctors at Mayo Clinic. The typical survival rate after diagnosis is one to three years.

Jack's parents, Ben and Lili Jiang, had promised him a trip to see America when he finished primary school. But instead of sightseeing, their focus is now on Jack and doing anything possible to stop, or at least slow, his deteriorating and deadly condition. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: anaplastic astrocytoma, Cancer, Dr Amulya NageswaraRao, Dr Nadia Laack, Dr Sherilyn Driscoll, Mayo Clinic Children's Center


September 4th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Critical Care Team Gives Young Mom Second Chance in Fight Against Cancer

By cindyweiss cindyweiss

Mayo Clinic cancer patient Hollis Younger enjoying timel with family. Three years had passed since Hollis Youngner, 34, had been diagnosed and treated for HER2+ breast cancer. So in late 2014, when the mother of one was "just feeling yucky, tired, nauseous," she says cancer wasn't even on her mind. "I was secretly excited, thinking of ways to tell everyone I was pregnant," she says.

Unfortunately, a chest X-ray, prompted by a complaint of being short of breath, set in motion a series of events that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, a 45-minute CPR session, and questions about whether the young mom would even survive.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Florida Campus, Metastatic Cancer, Dr John Moss, Dr Diaz-Gomez, Dr Moreno, Hollis, pulmonary embolism