Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff


November 10th, 2016

Minimally Invasive Bariatric Procedure Brings Relief, Joy in Food Again

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A minimally invasive procedure at Mayo Clinic helped Stephanie Cortez combat debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms and regain control of her body.Stephanie Cortez had been battling the scale for most of her 47 years. Weighing 240 pounds, the Lake Park, Georgia, resident decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery in 2008 in the hopes of losing a hundred pounds.

Stephanie made steady progress for the next six years. She adopted and maintained a healthier lifestyle and better eating habits. Then she hit a roadblock. In 2014, Stephanie developed a bleeding ulcer in the stomach pouch created during her surgery.

Though the ulcer healed, scar tissue created additional problems, including a narrowing of the area between the stomach pouch and intestine. The condition, called the gastrojejunal anastomosis, caused an intestinal obstruction.

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Tags: Dr Scott Lynch, Dr Victoria Gomez, Gastric Bypass Surgery, gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic in Florida

September 24th, 2016

Liver Transplant Allows Young Father to Be There for His Family

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Thanks to a living-donor liver transplant at Mayo Clinic, Bryan Duncan overcame a life-threatening liver disease and has been able to return to life with his young family.

Bryan Duncan didn’t think twice about the lab tests he had as part of a routine medical checkup in the fall of 2014. A 29-year-old father of two small children, Bryan led a busy life, didn’t have any health problems, and felt fine.

When the test results came back, though, they showed enzyme levels in Bryan’s liver were higher than normal. This unexpected finding kicked off more than two years of extensive medical care. It brought Bryan from his hometown of Mountain View, Arkansas, to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, and where he eventually received a life-saving living-donor liver transplant.

“The way my disease works, if I had waited for a deceased donor, I probably would have been too sick for a transplant,” Bryan says. “Being able to have a living-donor transplant opened up the opportunity for me to get the second chance I needed.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr Nicholas LaRusso, gastroenterology, Hepatology, liver transplant, Living donor transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

February 29th, 2016

Professional Outdoorsman Lives Life to the Fullest After Liver Transplant

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Steve and Maria Woodford are back to active lifestyles after transplant and cancer care at Mayo Clinic.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."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: bile duct cancer, Breast Cancer, Florida Campus, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

March 20th, 2015

Battling Colon Cancer at an Unexpected Age

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Kelly Barnard, diagnosed with colon cancer at age 19, poses for a strong arm selfieThe majority of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50. Kelly Barnard was just 19 years old when she got an unwelcome Valentine’s Day surprise. Her stomach pain turned out to be something much more serious.

Among cancer's many negative qualities is the seemingly indiscriminate way the disease manifests itself. Cancer doesn’t care what your race, gender or ethnicity is. It doesn't care about your profession where you live or your family situation. And it doesn't necessarily care about your age. Just ask Kelly Barnard.

Kelly's cancer story began when she was just 19 years old. Then a freshman at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota, she began feeling intense stomach pain one day in her dorm room. And while she tells the Duluth Tribune she'd "felt some little twinges of pain" in her stomach before, those were nothing like the pain she felt just before Valentine's Day 2013. "It was horrendous," she tells the newspaper. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't move."  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Colorectal Cancer, colorectal surgery, Dr Robert Cima, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, StrongArmSelfie

June 6th, 2014

Coping with a Rare Disorder: Cronkhite-Canada Syndrome

By Susana Shephard susanashephard

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

Diet restrictions inspire new career

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

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

Colorado Nurse Finds Answers to Medical Mystery

By Sara Jacobsen saraf17

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

Dr. David Fleischer: Treating Esophageal Cancer in Kenya

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

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

Richard Rubenstein: Overcoming Rectal Cancer

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

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, Matthew Clark PhD, rectal cancer, colorectal surgery, radiation therapy, Richard Rubinstein, American Indians

November 14th, 2013

Flying High after Successful Laparoscopic Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

By SMHNadmin mayoclinic

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.”


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

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