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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Gastroenterology Archive

June 6th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Coping with a Rare Disorder: Cronkhite-Canada Syndrome

By Susana Shephard

2014-06-27David Hirschy of Prescott, Arizona, has worn many hats  from record producer to chef to silversmith. In fact, his love of food made him think something was wrong a few years ago when he lost his sense of taste. He began to have other symptoms, too, which led him to Mayo Clinic in Arizona where he was diagnosed with the extremely rare Cronkhite-Canada syndrome  so rare that there have been less than 500 cases reported in the past 50 years.

In the following video, David and his Mayo physicians, Lucinda Harris, M.D., gastroenterologist, and Giovanni De Petris, M.D., pathologist, share his story.

 


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Tags: Arizona, Cronkhite-Canada, Cronkhite-Canada syndrome, David Hershey, David Hirschy, Dr De Petris, Dr Harris, Gastroenterology, Giovanni De Petris, Hirschy, Lucinda Harris, pathology, rare disease, rare disorder


February 27th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Diet restrictions inspire new career

By Mayo Clinic

Frances Shaw’s health and career mixed together in a muffin batter. With her perseverance and answers from Mayo Clinic, both her health and career as a baker and entrepreneur, are turning out golden.

Frannie Shaw with a package of her muffins.

Frances Shaw didn’t set out to be a baker. Her career essentially found her as she tried to find ways to manage her health and dietary restrictions, while still enjoying food.

In her senior year of college, while studying film, Shaw, now 25, suddenly found herself dealing with ongoing stomach and pain symptoms that had worsened dramatically. “I was really, really tired,” she says. And that wasn’t all. “I had bone pain and was instantly bedridden.”

Finding out what was wrong was not as instant, however. In fact, it was an odyssey that dragged out for seven years. “I saw every kind of doctor,” she says. Eventually, Shaw learned she had Celiac disease and an intolerance of dairy products.

After her diagnosis, Shaw eliminated gluten and dairy from her diet. “I did notice a big difference in how I felt,” she says. “But I was so hungry. It was hard to find the combination of gluten-free, dairy-free that tasted good.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: celiac disease, Dr Christopher Sletten, fibromyalgia, Pain Rehabilitation Program, Patient Stories


February 5th, 2014 · 3 Comments

Colorado Nurse Finds Answers to Medical Mystery

By Sara Jacobsen

Written by Sara Jacobsen

Everyone who visits the Mayo Clinic has a story. Though my story may be a lot like all of the other patients who have come and gone through the Mayo Clinic system, I want to share my gratitude for the organization, facility and clinic that Mayo is.

Sara JacobsenThe year 2013 proved to be a bit of a roller coaster for me. I started out with bowel and bladder difficulty that ultimately spread to affect my neurological system and breathing. I had seen every specialist and had more tests done than I ever knew were possible. In August, I started worsening. I was having difficulty taking a deep breath in, while having increased right sided weakness, fatigue and numbness. The whole array of diagnoses were thrown at me (ALS, MS, Cancer, Myasthenia Gravis, and everything in between). I was placed on oxygen at night and it was becoming difficult to have enough energy to care for my two young boys (ages 3 and 5). I continued to work as a nurse, but I wasn't as effective as I had been.

In October, things continued to worsen. I had to stop running because my right foot was becoming numb, and I had to limit my activity because it was becoming more and more difficult to breathe. By the time I decided to come to the Mayo Clinic (the best place in the world for medicine) in November, it was hard for me to drive home at night because of the numbness in my right foot, it was getting difficult to make it through a day of work, and I had no energy for my kids. The quality of life I had was diminishing quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Karen Mauck, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Patient Stories


January 17th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Dr. David Fleischer: Treating Esophageal Cancer in Kenya

By Mayo Clinic

Dr. Fleischer at Tenwek HospitalEsophageal cancer is a challenging enough condition to treat at the best medical centers in the U.S. When the condition affects scores of people in a developing country in eastern Africa, the challenge is all the more demanding.

David Fleischer, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and his colleagues, working in collaboration with Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Tenwek Hospital in Bomet, Kenya, were focused on a noble charge: to work with physicians and staff at Tenwek to intervene early when patients exhibit symptoms that could lead to esophageal cancer.

Dr. Fleischer notes that in many patients with esophageal cancer, the disease is so advanced by the time they present to a physician that only palliative care is possible. In many medical centers such as Tenwek, where several new cases of esophageal cancer are seen each week, the standard of care has been to outfit patients with a tube (stent) in the throat to assist with their swallowing. However, “swallowing a tube is not a cure,” he affirms. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: africa, Arizona, cancer, David Fleischer, David Fleischer MD, Dr Fleischer, esophageal cancer, esophagus, Kenya, radio frequency ablation, RFA, Tenwek Hospital


January 8th, 2014 · Leave a Comment

Richard Rubenstein: Overcoming Rectal Cancer

By Mayo Clinic

Richard Rubinstein in his photography studioA routine colonoscopy in 2007 saved Richard Rubenstein’s life. Richard, a retired executive from Scottsdale, Ariz., had expected to receive a clean bill of health, especially since he had no alarming symptoms or any family history of colorectal malignancies. Instead he received shocking news – he had stage 3 rectal cancer.

Richard decided to pursue his treatment at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Specialists recommended radiation treatment and chemotherapy prior to surgery, with the hopes of reducing his four-centimeter tumor. The treatment proved successful and surgeons removed a significantly smaller mass. More chemotherapy followed and ultimately he had a final surgery to reverse his ileostomy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Arizona, cancer, Chemotherapy, Mayo Clinic, rectal cancer, colorectal surgery, radiation therapy, Richard Rubinstein, American Indians


November 14th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Flying High after Successful Laparoscopic Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

By Mayo Clinic

Barbara Nehr and her husband Adam had recently retired. Their shared passion for designing and flying experimental airplanes had taken them on many adventures in the past 20 years – adventures they planned to continue. But then the Orlando couple’s plans took a detour. A routine test showed Barbara’s body was not flushing out toxins as normal, and she was experiencing yellowing of the skin and itching.

Mayo Clinic pancreatic cancer patient Barbara Nehr

“I knew that jaundice without pain was a bad symptom,” Adam recalls. A local internist suspected pancreatic cancer. Additional tests confirmed a mass growing in the head of the pancreas.

Cancer of the pancreas affects 45,000 people every year in the U.S., and it is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. The five-year overall survival rate if a tumor is detected early and surgically removed is 22 percent, versus 6 percent without early detection and surgery.

“I did some research and Mayo Clinic came up with the best surgical team and the most experience with Whipple procedures,” a well-known treatment for tumors in the head of the pancreas, Adam says.

The couple came to Mayo Clinic in March 2010 where further tests confirmed pancreatic cancer. “Dr. Asbun [pancreatic surgeon] came to see me in pre-op and I asked him about the results [of the latest test],” Barbara recalls. “He told me ‘yes, it is cancer’…but immediately added ‘we’re going to get it’.”

“Pancreatic cancer unfortunately does not have a good prognosis, but if we focus on the positive there is much we can do to help patients,” says Horacio Asbun, M.D., chair, Division of General Surgery at Mayo Clinic in Florida, and a specialist in hepatobiliary surgery, including the delicate Whipple procedure. In Barbara’s case, she was a candidate for the laparoscopic Whipple, which not only allows for faster recovery, but can be a better operation for some patients. [Dr. Asbun narrates this animated graphic that illustrates the Whipple procedure]

Barbara and Adam at a recent PanCan walk in Jacksonville, Fla.

Barbara and Adam at a recent PanCan walk in Jacksonville, Fla.

“There are three main types of treatment available for pancreatic cancer: surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery has the highest chance for success; in fact, today it’s the only chance for cure in patients with pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Asbun explains.

The laparoscopic Whipple surgery was successful and Barbara was able to return to Orlando within days,where she started follow-up chemotherapy and radiation therapy in coordination with the doctors at Mayo Clinic.

Three years after her surgery, Barbara, now 68, leads an active life and takes pride in supporting pancreatic cancer awareness. Even her garden boasts to her survivorship – with purple decorations and flowers.

She’s an active volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and has traveled the country to support other survivors and raise awareness about pancreatic cancer and research, attending Purple Stride events and rallies in Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, Fla., as well as Washington, D.C.

“I very definitively feel that my coming to Mayo Clinic changed the outcome,” Barbara says. “With Dr. Asbun telling me that he was going to get that cancer out of me, I knew I was in good hands.”

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MEDIA: For this story, you can download several video clips and photos in full resolution, from this post, via the Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Tags: Adam Nehr, Barbara Nehr, Dr Asbun, hepatobiliary, horacio asbun, Jacksonville, MayoClinicFL, minimally invasive, Orlando, pancreas, pancreatic cancer, tumor, Whipple


November 6th, 2013 · 1 Comment

Life after C. difficile

By Mayo Clinic

Dianne Shea thought that the fevers, chills, vomiting, nausea and endless bouts of diarrhea from C. diff would take away her independence. But after a fecal transplant, she says, "My life began again."  

Diane Shea with her fan clubWritten by Dianne Shea

I've been a paraplegic and a Mayo Clinic patient for more than 10 years. My legs decided to stop working over a period of just a few short months due to a spinal tumor. So I didn't think I was a stranger to adversity. Then I met a nasty little bug they call C. difficile. The name is not ironic. At first I thought I had a very violent form of the flu with fevers, chills, vomiting, nausea and (the worst by far) countless, endless bouts of diarrhea.

My days were filled with nothing more than being assisted to the bathroom, cleaning up, getting back into bed, then starting all over again, weaker than before. I required around-the-clock care. I couldn't get dressed, could hardly eat anything, didn't have enough energy to do the smallest of tasks, and couldn't have any fun. Most importantly, I couldn't get through physical therapies for my legs.

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Tags: c difficile, diarrhea, Dr Darrell Pardi, Dr Sahil Khanna, fecal transplant, Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic, Patient Stories, spinal tumor, vomiting


July 23rd, 2013 · Leave a Comment

For patient in Honolulu, Mayo Clinic is just one click away

By Makala Johnson

Traci Downs with her husband, Hunter, and son, Aidan

Living in Hawaii definitely has its benefits — the beautiful scenery, the tropical weather, the ocean. But, what if you are living with a chronic condition and there aren't any specialists on the island? For Traci Downs, the answer was Mayo Clinic and Patient Online Services, a tool that enables patients to connect with Mayo Clinic anytime, anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: internet, Mayo Clinic, patient app, patient online services, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Traci Downs


July 11th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Anna’s Story: A Personal Approach to Cancer

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Anna and her daughter, Taylor, vacationing last summer in Mount Eagle, TN.

Anna (left) and her daughter, Taylor, vacationing last summer in Mount Eagle, TN.

At age 30, Anna Webster was a busy single mom juggling work and caring for her 11-year-old daughter. She didn’t have time to be sick. But after passing out one evening in the spring of 2009, she spent three days in a Jacksonville, Fla., emergency room while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong. Her potassium level was extremely low and her kidneys were having issues. Then a CT scan found a mass on her liver.

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Tags: anna webster, cancer, Cancer Center, epatocellular Carcinoma, Florida, hepatobiliary, keaveny, Liver cancer, liver resection, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Florida, MayoClinicFL, nyugen, patient story, transplant


June 14th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Finally! Relief for Unbearable Acid Reflux: The LINX Procedure

By Susana Shephard

Dr. Kristi Harold speaks with patient, Shawnee Williams, before her LINX surgery at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.Who hasn't experienced the occasional acid reflux from a particularily spicy dinner or an extra slice of pizza? Nothing that an over-the-counter pill wouldn't relieve, right?

Unfortunately, for seven long years, Shawnee Williams, suffered not a few but daily episodes of progressively worsening acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux, GERD. At only age 25, she experienced her first episode of reflux which prompted her to start taking over-the-counter medicine to relieve her occasional symptoms. But over time, these symptoms worsened even with the daily use of proton pump inhibitors. Shawnee explains how, "the burning throat was unbearable. To deal with it every day was excruciating."

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Tags: acid reflux, Arizona, GERD, Harold, Kristi Harold, LINXX LIN, Mayo Clinic, procedure, Shawnee Williams