July 27th, 2016
It 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 ‚Äď fatigue, chills, fever ‚Äď 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 »
July 23rd, 2016
The night before 8-year-old Evie McLeish‚Äôs brain surgery, her Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., told her parents, "I don‚Äôt want you to think of this as the end. This is just the beginning of a marathon."
The procedure was the start of Evie‚Äôs 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‚Äôs home in Ankeny, Iowa, just a three-hour drive away.
"We were dealt a big blow with Evie‚Äôs 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 »
June 25th, 2016
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‚Äôt 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‚Äôs Proton Beam Therapy Program, where Jackson received treatment for a brain tumor.
‚ÄúEvery single person we‚Äôve met at Mayo Clinic has been amazing, and we feel like we were meant to meet them,‚ÄĚ says Michelle. ‚ÄúHis doctors told us they were going to fight for Jackson. They‚Äôve 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.‚ÄĚ¬† 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 »
June 4th, 2016
"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 »
May 31st, 2016
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 ‚ÄĒ 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 ‚ÄĒ 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 »
May 21st, 2016
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 »
April 1st, 2016
Audra Popp has a rare tumor ‚Äď 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
Raegan Cury didn‚Äôt worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldn‚Äôt 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. ‚ÄúI never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,‚ÄĚ 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.¬†
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.¬† Read the rest of this entry »
March 23rd, 2016
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, ‚ÄúIt felt like I had a BB pellet stuck in there.‚ÄĚ
Her knee became so sensitive that the slightest touch or inadvertent bump would ‚Äúbring excruciating pain, sending me to the ground, screaming and crying,‚ÄĚ 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 »