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Women’s Health Archive

August 14th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Woman Patient: Is Her Voice Heard?

By Admin

Portrait of Dr. Mary I. O'Connor, chair of the Department of Orthopedics at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Mary I. O'Connor, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopedics at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

[Editor's Note: Following is an article by Mary I. O'Connor, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopedics at Mayo Clinic in Florida, sharing her perspective on how gender affects the care of women today.]

Should a woman have a female doctor? As a woman and an orthopedic surgeon, I am sometimes asked that question. While some women may be more comfortable discussing intimate matters related to sexual and reproductive health with a woman physician, a general assumption is that the care provided to patients by physicians is not influenced by gender. Unfortunately, data suggests that women do not always receive the same care as men.

This is not a simple issue. There are many factors that influence the patient-physician interaction and relationship. But the factor that may be the most powerful may be one we know surprisingly little about in the health care setting: unconscious bias. Unconscious bias may be the reason women receive fewer kidney transplants and heart surgeries. It may be so powerful that it even influences the care provided to children. A 2011 study by Butani and Perez showed girls are 22 percent less likely to be placed on a kidney transplant list than boys. Because an earlier transplant equates to better health, this gender disparity likely impacts the long-term outcome of these young women.

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Tags: Florida, Mary O'Connor, MayoClinicFL, opinion, orthopedic


May 17th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

To Test or Not to Test – Genetics, That Is

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Maegan Roberts, a certified genetic counselor at Mayo Clinic, helps determine if someone should be tested for cancer-causing genes. She works closely with the Breast Clinic at Mayo Clinic.

Maegan Roberts, a certified genetic counselor at Mayo Clinic, helps determine if someone should be tested for cancer-causing genes. She works closely with the Breast Clinic at Mayo Clinic.

So I wonder if anyone else spent part of Tuesday, May 14, 2013, pondering what they would do.

Would they take the test to learn if they were at increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer? What if it came back positive? What decision would they make – to keep their breasts and uterus or remove them? Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: American Indians, Angelina Jolie, Breast Cancer, Florida, Genetic Counseling, Genetics, hysterectomy, Internal medicine, Maegan Roberts, MayoClinicFL, Stephanie Hines


May 13th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

Girl Scout Dr. Sharonne Hayes Receives Award

By Makala Johnson

Dr. Sharonne Hayes, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, in April was named one of the Girl Scout River Valleys 2013 Women of Distinction.

When Dr. Hayes began working at Mayo Clinic, she became keenly aware that women in medicine, and particularly in cardiology, were still a minority. As she began her career in cardiology, she also saw the unique needs of women suffering from or at risk for cardiovascular disease, so in 1998 she founded Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Heart Clinic, one of the first in the country. The clinic provides sex-and gender-based cardiovascular care and women-focused research with a goal to improve clinical outcomes and advance the science. As a pioneer in the women’s health field, Dr. Hayes is a nationally recognized educator and advocate for women’s cardiovascular issues. She serves on the Board of Directors of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. In addition to her role as cardiologist, Dr. Hayes also became the first director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Mayo Clinic in 2010.

Dr. Hayes has been a Girl Scout for as long as she can remember and credits her mother for her positive experience in scouting. She believes in the power of the Girl Scout sisterhood and knows all girls have the potential to be leaders who can make the world a better place through service.

Since 2009, Girl Scouts River Valleys has annually honored local role models whose professional accomplishments, leadership and community contributions inspire girls to reach their highest potential.

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Tags: cardiology, girl scout, Heart, Sharonne Hayes, Women


March 21st, 2013 · Leave a Comment

He Said, She Said: How One Couple Battled Colon Cancer Together

By Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Sue Willingham remembers the May 2010 day well. She was getting ready to take her two children to school. But before leaving the house, she did what any mom might – use the restroom.

But then she noticed she’d lightly soiled her undergarments. Only she didn’t remember it happening.

Mayo Clinic patients Sue and Darrin Willingham

Mayo Clinic patients Sue and Darrin Willingham

At 45, Willingham was the picture of health. She ate well, exercised and stayed up on doctor visits. But in that moment, something changed. She called her husband. “I remember telling him I’m scared,” she says.

But then Willingham, who describes herself as someone who is not easily rattled, tried to rationalize the accident, chalking it up to the six fiber pills she’d taken the day before to combat constipation.

“Being one that does not jump to conclusions or get upset or scared of anything easily, I said this is ridiculous, crazy, there is nothing wrong with me. I have no cancer in my family. I have no anything…” But today she admits, “Maybe subconsciously I had been aware of what he had gone through the year before.”

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Tags: colo-rectal cancer, colon, Colon Cancer, colonoscopy, MayoClinicFL


February 19th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

An Unexpected Miracle from Down the Hallway

By Paul Scotti

Mayo Clinic patient Shirley Thompson, recipient of a double lung transplant

Mayo Clinic patient Shirley Thompson, recipient of a double lung transplant

Sometimes miracles happen when you least expect them. No one believes that more than Fleming Island, Florida resident Shirley Thompson, whose tale of how she received two new lungs while in a medically induced coma at Mayo Clinic hospital in Florida isn’t exactly the typical scenario.

The 48-year old married, mother of two was first diagnosed with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) in March 2012 by her local pulmonologist after undergoing an EKG and experiencing shortness of breath. She was eventually referred to Mayo Clinic for an evaluation and was put on continuous high flow oxygen during treatment for her lung condition. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Cesar Keller, Florida, hysterectomy, lung transplant, MayoClinicFL, PAH, pulmonary, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, Surgery, transplant, transplantation


February 15th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

#TheDonna Series: 4 Divas and a Dude

By Jason Pratt

(left to right) Claudette Goode, Margaret Russell, Leel Williams, Karla Phipps and Karol Rojas approach the finish line of the 2012 26.2 with Donna race in Jacksonville, FL.

(left to right) Claudette Goode, Margaret Russell, Leel Williams, Karla Phipps and Karol Rojas approach the finish line of the 2012 26.2 with Donna race in Jacksonville, FL.
(view more photos at on our Flickr page.)

The sixth annual 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer is less than two days away and many of the 10,000-plus participants are anything but seasoned athletes. Take Karol Rajos, a Mayo Clinic employee, who wanted to find a way to honor her Aunt Esther, a breast cancer survivor, and her grandmother Ninita, who passed away from the disease. The annual marathon held each February seemed like a good outlet. So in 2011, Rajos ran her first half marathon.

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Tags: events, Florida, marathon, MayoClinicFL, TheDonna, TheDonnaSeries


February 5th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

#TheDonna Series: For Mothers and Others

By Jason Pratt

After chemotherapy and radiation (from left to right) Erin Holman (neice), Kathy Kennely, Bradley Kennelly (son), Gladys Donovan

After chemotherapy and radiation (from left to right)
Erin Holman (neice), Kathy Kennely, Bradley Kennelly (son), Gladys Donovan

While one would expect members of Mayo Clinic’s department of neurology to support community events, you’d probably assume it would be related to things like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s or Lou Gerhig’s disease (also known as ALS). But breast cancer? Indeed.

It seems as if everyone knows someone who is affected by the disease and Mayo Clinic neurologists Elliot Dimberg, M.D. and Kathleen Kennelly, M.D., Ph.D. and several of their colleagues, are no exception.

While Dr. Dimberg’s practice clearly does not focus on breast cancer patients, research opportunities are important to the neurologist, who says he’s lacing up his sneakers on for a third time to participate in the 26.2 with Donna in part because of the great relationship between the organization and Mayo Clinic. He cites the marathon’s contributions to help spur bench research. “I love being a part of something that directly benefits both the clinic and the local community,” he says.

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Tags: events, Florida, marathon, MayoClinicFL, TheDonna, TheDonnaSeries


January 24th, 2013 · Leave a Comment

#TheDonna Series: Running for Aunt Donna

By Jason Pratt

Ashley's Aunt Donna

Ashley's Aunt Donna

Thousands are preparing to lace up their sneakers for the sixth annual 26.2 with Donna: The National Marathon to Finish Breast Cancer on Sunday, February 17, 2013, and in doing so, supporting ongoing research (PDF) at Mayo Clinic related to breast cancer.

Ashley Crofton is one of them. Although she works in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Transplant, she is committed to the Donna marathon and is preparing to run her second half marathon on Feb. 17. She participates each year for her Aunt Donna - no relation to Donna Deegan – who Crofton says is the strongest woman she ever met. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: events, Florida, marathon, MayoClinicFL, Running, TheDonna, TheDonnaSeries


November 30th, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Surgery at Mayo puts softball pitcher back in the game

By Margaret Shepard

Brittany Rathbun playing softball

Brittany Rathbun returned to collegiate softball after surgery at Mayo Clinic.

When softball pitcher Brittany Rathbun developed thoracic outlet syndrome — a narrowing of the subclavian vein, which runs from the heart down the arm — a rib resection (removal) at Mayo Clinic restored function in her hand and put her back in the game.

Today, female athletes are experiencing many of the same sports-related injuries their male counterparts have for decades. "We're playing more types of sports and playing more competitively than ever before," says Brittany Rathbun, a fast-pitch softball player. "I not only delivered 80 to 100 pitches per game, but also did weight training on a regular basis to strengthen my upper body." Read the rest of this entry »

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Tags: Audra Duncan M.D., Brittany Rathbun, Mayo Clinic, thoracic outlet syndrome


October 10th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Breast Cancer Hits Home Three Times in One Year

By Susana Shephard

A mother and her three daughters – all diagnosed with breast cancer. Kathleen O’Brien shares her family’s history battling a disease which eventually took her mother’s life and now has struck three more times. Kathleen and her sisters, Angel and Brenda,  carry the BRCA gene which means they face a much higher risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer compared with the general population.

Three sisters battle breast cancer

Three sisters battle breast cancer

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Tags: American Indians, Arizona, brca, BRCA gene, Breast Cancer, cancer, Chemotherapy, Kathleen O'Brien, mammogram, Mayo Clinic, patient story