Susana Shephard @susanashephard
Activity by Susana Shephard @susanashephard
Kristine Long, a patient at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, has had an incredible journey as a three-time Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor. In the course of her struggle, she has also overcome congestive heart failure and subsequent voice impairment.
In the video below, she explains how the care provided by her Mayo Clinic physicians, James Slack, M.D., a hematologist; D. Eric Steidley, M.D., a cardiologist; and David Lott, M.D., an otorhinolaryngologist, along with their care teams, has made her a whole person again. She also talks before and after repair to her vocal chords about what that procedure has meant to her personally and how it's given her renewed confidence as well as giving her voice back.
In her early 20s, Erin Ayub has big plans. As a college student in El Paso, Texas, she is also a musician and aspiring writer. She had to put her plans on hold for a bit while in a medically induced coma at Mayo Clinic in Arizona due to a rare illness — anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.
Now on the road to recovery, Erin and her mom share her story in this video.
"There's something weird going on," explained the surgeon in Las Vegas, Nevada. For retired hotel executive Charles Livingston, these words signaled the start of a long journey, which began following an emergency appendectomy. He had experienced abdominal symptoms and received various diagnoses before being rushed to the operating room for a burst appendix.
Following surgery, Charles received devastating news -- he had metastatic appendiceal cancer. His local oncologist referred him to Mayo Clinic in Arizona where he met with Nabil Wasif, M.D., a surgeon, and John Camoriano, M.D., an oncologist. Charles says he was immediately struck by the genuine concern both physicians had for him as a human being.
Working together as a cancer care team, the physicians recommended a debulking surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Charles agreed to undergo the extensive surgery and HIPEC treatment to save his life.
It's here that fiction becomes reality. Charles says that just before his cancer diagnosis, he had finished writing his novel, Gabriel's Creek. The story revolves around a man who faces learning he is terminally ill. Charles says he had never imagined that his future would hold the same challenges as the main character. He admits that there were few edits to the novel, so perhaps he was unknowingly preparing himself for what lay ahead, he says.
Watch the video below as Charles shares his story.
David 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 December of 2010, Antoinette discovered a large lump in her breast. Alarmed by her finding, she quickly sought medical care and was told it was benign. She felt initially reassured, but lingering doubts over the next six months eventually made her seek a second opinion. Unfortunately, those doubts became a reality as she received a devastating diagnosis – breast cancer.
Antoinette chose to start her “hopeful journey” battling breast cancer at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She met first with Barbara Pockaj, M.D., a surgeon, who spent several hours explaining the recommended surgical procedure – a double mastectomy – and gave Antoinette the knowledge needed to understand what to expect. Six months of chemotherapy under the supervision of oncologist Donald Northfelt, M.D., followed, and then six weeks of radiation therapy.
In this video, Antoinette shares her journey battling breast cancer. She comes to realize how taking one day at a time, arming yourself with knowledge, being your own patient advocate, and seeking a support system such as family, friends and care providers gave her hope in the midst of a cancer diagnosis.
As an international patient coordinator at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, I have had many opportunities to work with patients to ensure that they receive the best medical care and attention. Helping patients is our number one priority at the International Patients Center. Last year, we had a unique opportunity to reach beyond our four walls at Mayo Clinic to help make a difference for thousands of patients in Sinaloa, Mexico.
On one of his trips to Sinaloa, Mexico, Robert Ferrigni, M.D., a Mayo Clinic urologist, met Mr. Carlos Bloch, President of the Sinaloa sector of Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross). Through Carlos, Dr. Ferrigni learned about the vital role the Mexican Red Cross plays including serving as first responders for emergency calls. Impressed with the services Cruz Roja provides with limited resources, Dr. Ferrigni contacted me to see if there was anything Mayo Clinic could do to help. We recognized their urgent need for medical equipment and supplies.
I then presented this idea to Mr. David Reidy, Logistics Manager/Supply Chain Management, and the ball started rolling. Mr. Reidy started the very difficult task of collecting and labeling medical equipment for the purpose of shipping to Cruz Roja Mexicana in Sinaloa, México. With the auspice of Phoenix Mexican General Consulate, Mr. Victor Trevino, the first shipment was delivered March 29th, 2012.
Dr. Ferrigni, David and I had the opportunity to travel to Los Mochis, Sinaloa to be a part of the annual festivities initiating a month long “colecta” (fundraiser) for Cruz Roja Mexicana. This experience was very humbling as the Mexican people of this region showed us their great appreciation for the donated medical equipment that would arrive shortly after our trip.
I’ve been very honored to be a Mayo Clinic employee for the last 17 years and as a Mexican National, I’m extremely proud to be a part of this very important endeavor. I call this a double blessing!
Written by Mila Vargas
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."
At the age of eight, Max Harris overcame aplastic anemia, a condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells. Successful treatment led to his recovery and several years of good health.
Years later, a visit to the dentist confirmed that his health had taken a serious turn for the worse. Severely bleeding gums during his dental exam immediately prompted Max to see his physician. The unfortunate diagnosis - acute myelogenous leukemia.
Acute myelogenous leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Upon diagnosis, Max was faced with a challenging road ahead of him - induction chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant. He shares his story of overcoming a potentially life threatening illness and how he lives his life to the fullest today.
“I think it’s cancer,” are not words that anyone, especially a 29 year old nurse recently relocated to Arizona, expects to hear.
Jennifer McGoldrick faced these words and the eventual diagnosis of breast cancer shortly after moving to Scottsdale to continue her nursing career at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She shares her journey of undergoing multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment while still managing to continue living a normal life and working at Mayo Clinic.
Jennifer's positive attitude shows how the support of family and friends goes a long way to learning how to take life one day at time.
Suzy Underhill's life took an unexpected turn less than a year ago when she discovered a large lump under her breast. She immediately went to see her gynecologist who recommended that she consult with a specialist. Suzy's good friend had told her to schedule an appointment at Mayo Clinic and soon after she consulted with specialists at the Breast Clinic.
After several tests her physician at Mayo Clinic delivered the grim diagnosis, inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and fasting growing cancer requiring immediate treatment. Suzy shares with us her journey battling her disease and how the exceptional care provided by her Mayo team along with her supportive family and positive outlook helped to get her through her treatment. [...]
Henry Corral had always enjoyed a full life in Arizona - staying fit, spending time with his family and working in the high tech industry. In March of 2011, his life turned upside down. He received a diagnosis that few men expect to hear – breast cancer.
The incidence of male breast cancer is rare and less than 1% of all breast carcinomas occur in men. Henry had no idea that his symptoms could be a sign of breast cancer but fortunately he listened to his body. He sought the advice of his local physician who referred him to Mayo Clinic. [...]
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.
One goal changed her life. Now almost two years after a devastating concussion, Sydney Urzendowski is changing the goals of her life.
Sydney, of Elkhorn, Neb., was an active teenager, always on the go and had high aspirations in playing sports for a long, long time. Things changed for her when she was playing soccer on her high school team when she headed a ball and scored a goal – at least that’s what her coaches told her. The hit to the head knocked her unconscious and she doesn’t remember the goal, the game and a lot of things that came before that.
“I kind of recall running and then afterwards not being able to move my feet, Sydney said. “I remember asking where I was and why can't I move my feet and so the coaches noticed that I was like acting different. I guess I was slurring my speech and just acting weird. Thankfully, we have a really good trainer, so I went into our training room and red flags just popped up everywhere so they knew I had a concussion.”
While she was recovering from the concussion Sydney admits that she lied, saying that she felt better in hopes of getting back to playing sports sooner. Like many athletes eager to play again, Sydney didn’t realize the risks of playing too soon after a concussion.
But she soon found out.
“I got my second concussion when I got hit by a football in the temple,” she said. “I don't really remember and didn’t really think it was anything at the time until I had horrible headaches and my vision was blurry. At that point I was just so sick all the time and couldn’t play sports.”
That’s when Sydney’s whole life turned upside down. She went through months and months of constant “7 to 10” throbbing headaches per day, malaise and major mood swings. Her family’s two-year search for relief eventually brought her to Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Dr. David Dodick.
“Athletes just try to tough it out and work through it without realizing the cognitive and physical exertion that they put themselves through,” said Dr. Dodick, neurologist, and director of the Mayo Clinic Concussion Program. “When the brain tells you ‘I can’t do this,’ it tells you by increasing headaches, dizziness and host of other symptoms. The brain is telling you it can’t handle all of this until it heals.”
Dr. Dodick said that when Sydney arrived at Mayo Clinic she underwent sophisticated screening and evaluation. While Mayo Clinic doctors determined that her brain was structurally intact, there was evidence that her autonomic nervous system (which controls involuntary nerves) was not functioning properly. Once that was identified, Sydney was placed on appropriate therapy and the symptoms cleared up.
Sydney said she started getting stronger and feeling better a just few weeks after her first visit to Mayo Clinic. Now a senior in high school, she is regaining her energy and zest for life that she had found in sports.
“When I couldn’t play sports, I felt like I had lost my passion - finding something else to do with my life was really difficult but thankfully I have a really great family.”
As far as searching for a new passion…
“I'm still in the process of that. I just pretty much surround myself with friends and family now, focus on school and that kind of stuff…. Now that I got help I feel so much better.”
There was no doubting the value of the team approach on the early morning of Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in the Ambulatory Surgery Center at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
In what was otherwise a fairly routine procedure — cataract removal — this time required the assistance of the ophthalmologic surgeon, nurses, a cardiologist and a cardiac device specialist. The center of attention was the patient — 62-year-old James Billingsley, a Vietnam veteran with Type II diabetes, a hearing issue, a bad heart and cataracts.
The Mayo team had two important goals — safety and quality of life for Billingsley. Billingsley, thanks to a ventricular support device (VAD) to support his failing heart, had been granted "extra innings" in a life that includes a supportive family, friends and a passion for performing as part of the honor guard for commemorations such as Memorial Day.
Dave Patel, M.D., chair of Ophthalmology, was strongly motivated to improve Billingsley's sight so he could enjoy life. But Billingsley's surgery did not fall in the category of routine. Cataracts needed to be removed from both of his eyes, and Patel decided to do a double cataract surgery so Billingsley would not have to go through the procedure twice.
Billingsley's heart needed to be monitored, and safety was top priority. So a team converged to closely monitor blood pressure levels and intravenous meds. "This double cataract surgery on a patient with a VAD could not be done elsewhere in a traditional eye center because of the potential risks," Patel says. "Here, at Mayo Clinic, we have all the specialists coming together as a team for the safety of the patient in this special circumstance."
The surgery was a success. One day later, when Billingsley returned for a follow-up appointment, his spirits were high and his sight had already improved. In fact, one eye registered 20/20 and the other eye was almost as good. "It made a big difference. Now I can read, I can watch TV and it doesn’t feel like I’m looking through dirty glass. Dr. Patel did an excellent job."
"When somebody saves your life, that's something that sticks with you for the rest of your life." Powerful words from Sandy Pobanz, a long-time patient and volunteer at Mayo Clinic.
The Pobanz family, from Moline, Ill., began traveling to Mayo Clinic in 1942 when Sandy's father, Wilbur, sought care for a serious heart condition that threatened his life. Mayo physicians diagnosed and successfully treated Wilbur. Since then, the Pobanz family has turned to Mayo countless times. [...]
by Raquel Rivas
It was 1979 when at 76, my grandmother suffered a stroke. Thirty-three years ago there was little people could do but deal with a stroke and its after effects. My grandmother thankfully regained her speech but she went through months of physical therapy and only regained a bit of mobility on the right side of her body. She eventually got used to accepting help from others with basic tasks such as dressing and bathing.
Each year in the U.S., 795,000 people have a stroke. And although death rates have declined, stroke is still the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in adults. Up to 30 percent of stroke patients become permanently disabled.
Unlike in my grandmother’s day, when most times we’d just hope for the best, stroke treatment has evolved. Today, there are drugs, better imaging methods and new devices, which make it possible to lessen the damage that can occur in the aftermath of a stroke.
Through my work, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Rabih Tawk, a cerebrovascular specialist at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and learn more about the life-saving techniques patients have available today. Dr. Tawk shared that time is crucial in saving brain function and so the need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of stroke is critical. One of the most effective treatments is an intravenous drug known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which aims to break up a clot in a vein or artery. But this medication has shown most effective when given within 3 hours of symptom onset and is only given to about 10 percent of all patients. I wondered what was available for other patients. What about people who had a stroke overnight like my grandmother?
Dr. Tawk shared some exciting news. The time limit for tPA is increasing – it’s gone up to four hours. And now surgeons are also able to insert a catheter through a vein in the leg and deliver tPA directly to the site of an obstruction in the brain. Also, thanks to some new devices, specifically stents and tools called flow diverters, doctors have several effective minimally-invasive alternatives to unclog blood vessels and restore normal blood flow.
I sometimes worry if I’m at risk for a stroke due to my grandmother’s history. And while I take time to ensure I know the signs of a stroke, I feel safe in knowing that medicine continues to advance.
In 2007, Bobbie Sofia and her husband, Sam, traveled to San Antonio, Texas from their home of almost forty years in Lake Havasu City, Arizona to attend their daughter, Ashley's, graduation from Air Force Basic Training. While enjoying the sights on the River Walk, Bobbie suddenly began gasping for breath. She recovered after a short while, but in the back of her mind, she knew that it was time to see her doctor at Mayo Clinic Family Medicine -Thunderbird.
Her physician ordered a series of tests including a chest x-ray, echocardiogram, lab tests, and electrocardiogram. Bobbie had battled her weight for most of her life but otherwise had no serious medical problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Nothing could have prepared her for the diagnosis - heart failure. [...]
For Mark McNeary, a retired music industry executive, his miracle story began shortly after finishing Saturday morning chores at his ranch in Kingman, Ariz. Sudden, searing head pain and throat problems made it clear that he needed immediate medical attention. His wife, Julie, drove him 30 miles to the nearest emergency room at Kingman Regional Medical Center, KRMC. [...]
A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating. For Robert Hoopes, a facilities manager from Glendale, Ariz., the diagnosis hit home - twice.
In 2006, Kara, his wife of more than three decades, discovered that she had advanced colon cancer. After a two year battle, she sadly passed away at the age of 54 leaving behind her husband, children and many friends. [...]
As he biked 213 miles of desert between Yuma, Ariz., and Phoenix in temperatures above 90 degrees, Ricky Reinhart thought a lot about moving forward. Much the same as he did a year ago as he laid in a bed at Mayo Clinic Hospital recovering from surgery for esophageal cancer.
To celebrate his “first birthday” (post surgery), Ricky, of Yuma, made a marathon bike trip the weekend of Oct. 22-23 to raise funds for cancer research. Ricky, 54, was all smiles after the grueling ride arriving at Mayo Clinic, accompanied by 13 of his friends, family and co-workers, and carrying an envelope with more than $10,000 in donations. [...]