September 10th, 2016
Travis McGinnis was just 30 years old when an insidious cancer was discovered in his brain. It had been growing there for some time, he says â€” his physicians estimated between five and 10 years. Had the stage-three oligoastrocytoma not been detected when it was, Travis would have likely lost his life. As it happened, thanks to care and treatment provided by neurologists and neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinicâ€™s Rochester campus, the only solid thing the father of three lost to the cancer was a fist-sized piece of his brain.
While having cancer was something he never wanted, Travis says the experience gave himÂ insights and gifts he would not have otherwise realized: deep appreciation for his family and friends, gratitude for the present, and faith in strangers who generously supported him.
â€śSometimes Iâ€™ll sit and think about everything Iâ€™ve been through, and it moves me to tears,â€ť Travis says. â€śIâ€™m alive and better for it. I wish I never wouldâ€™ve had to go through it, but at least it wasnâ€™t for nothing.â€ť Read the rest of this entry »
August 31st, 2016
Jessie Brenholt is a certified pastry chef who would like to open a bakery one day. â€śIf the ingredients were free, Iâ€™d give out cakes to everyone,â€ť she says.
For a while, the 23-year-old's dream seemed to be in jeopardy. After months of being sick with weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and vision problems, Jessie found that the source of her symptoms was a tumor on her pituitary gland â€” a small gland located at the base of the brain that makes a variety of hormones.
A neurosurgeon near her hometown of Hill City, Minnesota, found that the walnut-sized tumor was wrapped around Jessieâ€™s optic nerve and located close to a carotid artery. Treatment to get rid of it could affect Jessieâ€™s sense of smell and vision. Due to the complexity of the situation, the surgeon referred Jessie to Mayo Clinic'sÂ Rochester campus.
â€śA pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see,â€ť says Jessie. â€śMy doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life with surgery and proton beam therapy.â€ťÂ Read the rest of this entry »
August 9th, 2016
For 14 years, Brad Lewis never knew quite what to expect when he woke up in the morning. A rare genetic disorder, tuberous sclerosis, caused a variety of health problems. But the one that disrupted his life the most was epilepsy. At one point, Brad was having as many as 80 seizures a day.
â€śSeizures are so unpredictable. If Brad wasnâ€™t having a seizure, he was worried about having a seizure,â€ť says his mother, Bernadette Lewis. â€śIt affected every minute of his life, whether he was at school, with friends or at home.â€ť
Brad was also dealing with other complications from his medical condition. After trying many medications and going through multiple surgeries, Bradâ€™s parents decided they needed another expert to weigh in on the situation. That brought the family to Nicholas Wetjen, M.D., a physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.Â Read the rest of this entry »
July 29th, 2016
Growing up in Central Florida, Kimberly Kimmons was an active child. She loved swimming, biking and martial arts. But at age 12, Kim was diagnosed with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that most often occurs during a growth spurt before puberty. Unfortunately, Kimâ€™s family didnâ€™t have the resources to fully address her spinal issues, and the scoliosis continued to get worse.
Years later, when Kim and her husband, Kent, searched for specialists to help fix her back problems, they found neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinicâ€™s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, who were confident they could help. But as they assessed her condition, Kimâ€™s care plan became more complicated. In the end, she had three surgeries at Mayo Clinic to remedy back and neck issues. With time and recovery, Kim was able to reclaim her life.Â Read the rest of this entry »
July 16th, 2016
When Gene Franke left his farm in rural Hayfield, Minnesota, driving a semi-trailer truck loaded with hay and bound for Oklahoma, he never imagined the return leg of his journey would be as a passenger in an air ambulance jet. But in September 2011, thatâ€™s exactly what happened.
A serious accident left Gene paralyzed and in critical condition. Doctors in Oklahoma didnâ€™t think he would survive. Longtime patients of Mayo Clinic, Gene and his wife, Barbara, were determined to get him back to Mayo's Rochester, Minnesota, campus for care.
â€śThe doctors at Mayo Clinic knew what was going on, and they assured us they could do something for him,â€ť Barbara says. â€śWe knew he had to get up here. The care at Mayo Clinic is like nowhere else. Weâ€™re used to it, and thatâ€™s what we wanted.â€ťÂ Read the rest of this entry »
June 26th, 2016
When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.
It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a majorÂ stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.
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 â€” 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 inÂ Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life â€” 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 23rd, 2016
Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, sheâ€™d made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.
Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling â€śoff.â€ť Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.Â Read the rest of this entry »
April 1st, 2016
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 »