Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff


November 17th, 2014

Josh Russell Faces His Toughest Battle

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

Joshua Russell and his fiancé, Ashley, take a break during a horse ride. Josh Russell spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. But he says his toughest battle took place years after he left the military.

In early 2011, Josh noticed a bump in his stomach around his navel. He thought the bump was a hernia, and his doctor initially agreed. Josh was scheduled for surgery, but pre-op blood work revealed surprising news. Russell’s “hernia” was actually a tumor. He had testicular cancer.

“I was in shock,” says the Benton, Wisconsin, resident. But he didn’t have time to dwell on that. “I got the news on a Friday and started chemotherapy on Monday.”

Four months of treatment did little to slow the cancer. In fact, it was spreading.

“I had tumors from my groin to the lower part of my throat,” says Josh, whose prognosis looked grim. “After I finished chemo, they gave me six months to live. They wanted me to go home and start hospice.”

But that wasn’t a prognosis that Josh, then just 30 years old, or his family were willing to accept.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: chemotherapy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, testicular cancer, Urology, Dr Bradley Leibovich

October 2nd, 2014

Orchestrating Cancer Treatment Not An Obstacle For International Musician

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss cindyweiss

Alvaro Gomez plays his violin. Alvaro Gomez knows people in several continents and has access to health care in the U.S., Chile and Europe. When the Central Florida resident faced a prostate cancer diagnosis, he polled his acquaintances and doctors near and far and came up with one answer: Mayo Clinic.

“I was fortunate that after taking into account the advice from friends and doctors, I came to the conclusion that the best place to go was Mayo Clinic, only an hour-and-a-half from my house,” Gomez says.

Gomez leads a busy life as a violinist, music instructor and orchestra conductor in Florida, Chile, Brazil and Italy. Now, just outside busy Orlando, Fla., he directs his own music academy, conducts the Florida Young Artists Orchestra, and teaches music at Trinity Prep in Winter Park. Internationally, he leads the annual Luis Sigall Music Competition in Viña del Mar, in his native Chile. He also conducts a chamber orchestra at Festival Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and each summer conducts at L’Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy.

In part due to his busy schedule, Gomez took time for a routine health checkup. Although he felt fine at the time, a routine blood test at age 56 turned up high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. His family doctor recommended a biopsy, which revealed cancer cells, and put him on a quest to find the best place to receive treatment.

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Tags: Central Florida, Dr Wehle, jacksonville, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, minimally invasive surgery, Orlando, Prostate Cancer, prostatectomy, Robotic Surgery, MayoClinicFL

March 4th, 2013

Pleased Patient Shows Enduring Gratitude with Tattoo

By Makala Arce MakalaJohnson

David Prochello is no stranger to getting tattoos. He builds custom choppers, he has tats on his arms and a large one on his upper back inscribed: “I am my own role model.”

David's tattoo of green ribbon

So when Prochello, of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota,  received drug therapy and surgery at Mayo Clinic to treat kidney cancer, he felt completely comfortable demonstrating his gratitude in a unique way.

“Well, I hit it off with Dr. Leibovich right away,” said Prochello. “I told him if everything turned out I was going to get his name tattooed on my back.” Prochello’s tattoo includes a kidney cancer ribbon inscribed with the date of his diagnosis and a blank spot for the date of remission. Underneath the ribbon Prochello had inscribed: Tumors removed by Dr. Brad Leibovich. “I just thought he’d get a real kick out of it,” said Prochello. “My biggest worry was that I got his named spelled right.”

Watch Mr. Prochello tell his story below:

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Tags: David Prochello, Dr. Leibovich, kidney cancer, surgery, tattoo, tumor

February 6th, 2013

After Bladder Cancer, this 19-Year-Old Girl gets a New Bladder

By Makala Arce MakalaJohnson

Devi Chettiar

In the fall of 2004, Devi Chettiar was a healthy, active college student. Living in the Twin Cities, Devi was a sophomore who enjoyed her studies at the University of Minnesota. She also actively participated in a dance company and liked spending time with friends.

In November of that year, though, things changed. Devi started having painful urinary symptoms that wouldn't go away. Those symptoms were the beginning of a medical dilemma that led her to Mayo Clinic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: bladder cancer, Devi Chettiar, neobladder, reconstruction, Urology

December 19th, 2012

“From worst to first” after kidney cancer surgery

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Associate Margaret_Marie

Jasper Johnikin

Jasper Johnikin has maintained his busy schedule of youth sports coaching after surgery to treat kidney cancer.

"At 45, I was too young to plan my own funeral," says Jasper Johnikin, an apartment complex maintenance supervisor from Milwaukee, Wis. But that's exactly what Jasper was contemplating one holiday weekend several years ago.

"I'll never forget it," he says. "My doctor called me on Memorial Day and told me I had renal cancer and there was no possible treatment."

This is devastating news for anyone; especially Jasper... who had (and still has) only one kidney. Both of his parents are deceased and he has been unable to obtain records from the children's hospital that removed his other kidney when he was just five. "I was too young to remember the events leading up to that surgery – or much about the hospital stay," says Jasper. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Jasper Johnikin, kidney cancer, Matthew Clark PhD, Michael Blute M.D.

December 18th, 2012

“Green Light” Laser Surgery Treats BPH

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Associate Margaret_Marie

Paul HamernikPaul Hamernik says that "green light" laser surgery has meant he can enjoy his life again.

As a stock car racer, Paul Hamernik thought his frequent restroom breaks were an occupational hazard. He simply accepted that his bladder was small and his nerves ran wild — until he learned his PSA level was increasing.

"PSA, or prostate specific antigen, is a normal substance produced by the prostate, usually found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, infection or inflammation of the prostate, and benign prostatic hyperplasia," explains Lance Mynderse, M.D., a Urologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"My local doctor suggested I go to Mayo and be evaluated," says Paul. "He said Mayo had advanced tests and procedures to diagnose and treat prostate conditions that weren't widely available." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Dr. Mynderse, laser PVP surgery, Matthew Clark PhD, Paul Hamernik

December 17th, 2012

Prostate cancer treated with robotic surgical system

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Associate Margaret_Marie

Dr. Randall Minion

Dr. Randall Minion is active in his medical practice after having robotic surgery to treat his prostate cancer.

Randall Minion, M.D., was helping out a newly hired lab technician when he had his prostate specific antigen (PSA) tested. When he volunteered his blood sample for training purposes at his private practice, he never dreamed it would lead to the serendipitous early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

"I was 49, so I was half-joking, but it was an appropriate test to run because I would be turning 50 in a few months," says Dr. Minion, a family medicine physician in Fort Dodge, Iowa. "When my PSA was elevated, I visited my local urologist, who did a biopsy." It came back positive for cancer and Minion's doctor discussed treatment options, which included a new robotic surgery procedure. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Dr. Igor Frank, Prostate Cancer, Randall Minion M.D., Robotic Surgery

December 11th, 2012

Partial nephrectomy preserves kidney function after kidney cancer

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Associate Margaret_Marie

'I knew where I wanted to go'

Ruth Smith and granddaughterWhen doctors at her local emergency room told Ruth Smith they detected something on her imaging studies that looked like a kidney tumor, she said, "Are you sure it's cancer?"

"Never in a million years did I imagine my severe back pain was caused by cancer," says Smith, who was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma. "I felt like I'd hit a brick wall, but I knew where I wanted to go."

Smith's go-to medical center was Mayo Clinic — more than 200 miles from her home in Crosby, Minn. "I worked at Mayo Clinic years ago and had 100 percent faith in the doctors," she says. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Bradley Leibovich M.D., kidney cancer, Matthew Clark PhD, Partial Nephrectomy, Ruth Smith

December 1st, 2012

After successful kidney transplant, retiree is ‘Living the Dream’

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Associate Margaret_Marie

William Pearse and his wife.As Bill Pearse was rushed to the hospital in severe pain, he directed the ambulance to take him to Mayo Clinic in Arizona. The emergency department team diagnosed Pearse with kidney stones — a relief. But additional tests revealed something far worse: a cancerous tumor on one kidney.

Mayo Clinic physicians "were very persistent in really determining what the cause was," says Pearse. "They found out more and they dug deeper." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Bill Pearse, kidney cancer, kidney transplant, Matthew Clark PhD

November 26th, 2012

Runner travels “cross-country” for experienced tumor-removal team

By Margaret Shepard, Communications Associate Margaret_Marie

Amy Haberman and Dr. Leibovich

Amy Haberman and Dr. Bradley Leibovich after the Twin Cities Marathon

Amy Haberman was diagnosed with a noncancerous tumor the size of a small football, lodged near her left kidney and colon. Her local physicians advised her to look for a medical center that specializes in teams of surgeons who can remove large tumors that have nerve involvement and a significant blood supply. While the tumor was slow growing, it was fatal if not removed.

Amy traveled from her home in California to Minnesota to meet with a team of Mayo Clinic doctors, including urologist Bradley Leibovich, M.D.

"We'd performed similar surgery before. We were optimistic we could remove Amy's tumor," says Dr. Leibovich. "Mayo Clinic has a large, collaborative surgical practice, and we are experienced at handling difficult cases referred from around the world." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Amy Haberman, Bradley Leibovich M.D., Matthew Clark PhD, noncanerous tumor

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