Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff


Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss @cindyweiss

Mayo Clinic Public Affairs; two-time cancer survivor, advocate and storyteller. 

Activity by Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss @cindyweiss


Dec 23, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Holiday Season Brighter for Pulmonary Hypertension Patient After Surgery

Laura Floeckher found help for pulmonary hypertension at Mayo Clinic. The holiday season is much brighter this year for Laura Floeckhler, 45, from Orlando, Florida. Laura was diagnosed last Christmas with pulmonary hypertension, a rare disorder of the lungs affecting about 30 in every one million people. [...]

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caseyjuds responded Dec 28, 2015 · View


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Nov 13, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Recovery Turns Into Cancer Battle for Avid Runner

Judi, center, with Dr. Horacio Asbun, Mayo Clinic surgeon (center), and her grandson Jude, at the 2014 Pancreatic Cancer Walk.

Judi Zitiello with her grandson, Jude, and Dr. Horacio Asbun, Mayo Clinic surgeon , at the 2014 Pancreatic Cancer Walk.



















An avid runner, Judi Zitiello, 66, was forced into a six-week hiatus when she developed a meniscus tear in early 2014. The retired financial executive was always active – exercising, hosting dinner parties, and volunteering to run the JT Townsend Foundation, a Jacksonville, Florida, philanthropic organization.

Judi wasn’t too concerned about the downtime at first. She knew her body would take time to heal. But the pain lingered. Then Judi began losing weight and her energy waned.


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Nazmul responded Dec 29, 2015 · View

nice post for us

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Sep 10, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Team Marrion Steps Out for Heart Health

Katie and Marrion Ford. Every year, Katie Ford, who works at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus, can be found with a plastic jar and a stack of donation envelopes, encouraging colleagues to support the activities of the American Heart Association. In particular, she urges them to sign up for the annual First Coast Heart Walk, which Mayo Clinic sponsors.

Heart disease runs in Ford’s family, which is why she’s so passionate about supporting the cause and spreading the word about cardiovascular health.

Although he was 74-years-old, Ford’s father hadn’t been to a doctor’s office his entire adult life. When her mother was able to convince him it was time for a checkup, his doctors immediately identified issues.

“The doctor found he was 75 percent blocked and said he was a ticking time bomb for a heart attack,” Katie says. Her dad received a stent, and all was well for a number of years. However, his condition progressed, and he had a pacemaker and defibrillator installed in August 2014.  [...]

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Sep 4, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Critical Care Team Gives Young Mom Second Chance in Fight Against Cancer

Mayo Clinic cancer patient Hollis Younger enjoying timel with family. Three years had passed since Hollis Youngner, 34, had been diagnosed and treated for HER2+ breast cancer. So in late 2014, when the mother of one was "just feeling yucky, tired, nauseous," she says cancer wasn't even on her mind. "I was secretly excited, thinking of ways to tell everyone I was pregnant," she says.

Unfortunately, a chest X-ray, prompted by a complaint of being short of breath, set in motion a series of events that ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, a 45-minute CPR session, and questions about whether the young mom would even survive.  [...]

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Aug 16, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Patients Tell How Pain Rehabilitation Program Brought Them Relief

Christy Jeck discusses her experience at Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Center in Florida. Three weeks. It sounds like a long time, especially if you’re going to a hospital or clinic every day.

But for people living with chronic pain, a daily, multi-week program is compelling if it can help them return to a more active lifestyle.

Established in 2011, the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus offers a robust and integrated three-week outpatient program for adults affected by chronic pain and symptoms. [...]

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DLynn responded Aug 16, 2015 · View

What is the information for Glucocil? Does it help? It is suppose to control Pre diabetes and diabetes.

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Jul 20, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Patient Comes to Mayo for Foot Surgery, Receives Lifesaving Surprise

Virgil Jernigan is enjoying his retirement thanks to surgery to repair a leaky mitral valve.When Virgil Jernigan came to Mayo Clinic for foot surgery, he was in for a lifesaving surprise. During an exam before his surgery, he mentioned to his nurse practitioner that he had been feeling fatigued and short of breath. So she ordered cardiac testing. Virgil was shocked to learn he had a leaking mitral valve – a potentially life-threatening heart condition.  [...]

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DianeD responded Oct 19, 2015 · View

I have been told I have a "leaky valve" is it the same as mentioned above and if so, what test should I have?-- the doctors did not seem concerned about it-it was discovered during an ultra sound ---my cousin also mentioned she has the same thing and she is a marathon runner so she is concerned also- worried--


Angela456 responded Nov 1, 2015 · View

Call and request an appt. with A cardiac diseases Dr. Click onlink for info. Talk to your primary Dr. for help too. But you can call directly to Mayo.

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May 11, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Brain Hemorrhage Can’t Keep Cyclist From Pedaling On

Donnie continues to recover from a brain hemorrhage that caused a stroke.

At age 42, Donnie DeWitt was the picture of health. A former Marine, he loved to run, surf and was an avid cyclist. But three years ago, while on a bike ride near his home in St. Augustine, Florida, Donnie collapsed. He’d suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that led to a stroke.

He was brought to Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center in Jacksonville, where physicians said the damage was so extensive that Donnie had less than a five percent chance of survival.

“We didn’t know if he was going to live, what the outcome would be,” says Belinda, Donnie’s wife. [...]

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May 4, 2015 by @cindyweiss · View  

Young Stroke Survivor Raises Awareness and Educates

Young stroke survivor Amy Edmunds and Dr. David Miller, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida

Young stroke survivor Amy Edmunds and David Miller, M.D., director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

Editor's Note: This guest post is written by Amy Edmunds, founder of YoungStroke.

In 2002, I was a daily commuter to Capitol Hill who worked in sales management. Never did I think I would someday return to testify as a patient advocate at Congressional hearings on behalf of young stroke survivors. But then again, never did I expect to be a stroke survivor at age 45.

On Jan. 11, 2002, with no identified risk factors and no family history, I had an ischemic stroke. Initially, my mother observed my repeating phrases during conversation. Next, she witnessed my temporary blindness. Today, I have no recollection of these events. And my resulting deficit remains some long-term memory loss.

Like many, I mistakenly assumed stroke was an affliction of the elderly. As I attempted to learn more about my own experience, I learned approximately 30 percent of people who suffer a stroke each year are under age 65. And women are at an increased risk for stroke. So, too, are African American individuals – many of whom have significant aftereffects.  [...]

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Oct 2, 2014 by @cindyweiss · View  

Orchestrating Cancer Treatment Not An Obstacle For International Musician

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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Jun 1, 2014 by @cindyweiss · View  

What makes a cancer survivor?

Cindy Weiss in a photo from 2005, during her initial treatment for ovarian cancer.

Cindy Weiss in a photo from 2005, during her initial treatment for ovarian cancer.

June 1 is designated National Cancer Survivor Day – a time to celebrate those living with cancer. It seems ironic, though, for one day to be called out as cancer survivor’s day. Let's be honest – once you receive a diagnosis of cancer, regardless of what kind, every day is essentially survivor’s day.

As a two-time ovarian cancer patient, I know this. But the word "survivor" brings some dilemma. Exactly who is a survivor? What defines a survivor? Are you a survivor after you've completed a six-month chemo regime? Finished weeks of radiation? Lived for x-number of years cancer-free? The question or definition of a survivor is something I and others have grappled with for years.

“Survivor” is a strong and powerful word. According to one definition, a survivor is one “who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.” Sounds like every cancer patient I've ever known. But it’s also a label I’d apply to family members and friends. It takes a village to raise a child, they say. So, too, I believe to fight cancer. By that definition, aren't we all survivors?


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May 16, 2014 by @cindyweiss · View  

#StrokeMonth: From Victim to Therapist

Stroke survivor Sean Bretz (center) with Lisa Lazaraton (far left), a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, his mother and aunt (right).

Stroke survivor Sean Bretz with Lisa Lazaraton (left), a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, his mother (center) and aunt.

It’s been almost three years since Sean Bretz collapsed. Unbeknownst to the then 23-year-old U.S. Coast Guardsman, a giant aneurysm had burst in his brain, causing a massive stroke.

“His prognosis was grim,” neurosurgeon Rabih Tawk, M.D., recalls. “We used every technology available to help him.”

Despite complications and issues, which required him to be induced into a medical coma, Bretz made an almost full recovery.

“I realize I was lucky and recovered pretty well. A lot of other people who have this type of stroke do not,” says Bretz, who attributes his success to the large team at Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.


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May 9, 2014 by @cindyweiss · View  

#StrokeMonth: It's a Numbers Game

Written by Lesia Mooney, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mayo Clinic's Advanced Primary Stroke Center in Florida.

Members of the Mayo Clinic Primary Stroke Center in Florida host community events to help educate the public about stroke, stoke risk and ways to reduce risk.

Mooney (left) with other members of the Mayo Clinic Primary Stroke Center in Florida at a community event on stroke awareness.

That's the number of people annually in the United States who have a stroke.

That's the number of Americans who die each year due to stroke. 

$36.5 billion.
That’s the cost of stroke annually, which includes the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work related to stroke.

The numbers are staggering, at least according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stroke is a major health care issue, but yet I'm still surprised by the lack of awareness surrounding stroke.

There are many misconceptions about stroke, including that it’s an older person’s issue. In reality, stroke can happen to anyone, including children. I've seen patients as young as 18 and as old as 103.


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May 2, 2014 by @cindyweiss · View  

#StrokeMonth: TIAs - The Warnings Most Ignore

Lorena Rivera with two of her three children.

Lorena Rivera (center), stroke survivor, with two of her three children.

Many people experience a warning prior to a stroke. But often it goes unnoticed, especially when you’re young and otherwise healthy, like Lorena Rivera, 44.

A nurse educator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rivera was the picture of good health. She didn’t drink or smoke, had good blood pressure, and ate a healthful diet. She was also physically active. So when the mom of three experienced headaches and numbing in one arm, she wasn’t too concerned. However, when she temporarily lost vision while doing errands one day, she became more frightened.

Rivera, it turns out, had been experiencing a TIA – a transient ischemic attack – which produces similar symptoms as a stroke but usually lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a TIA is a warning. About 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the first episode.  [...]

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mgalle81 responded Thu, Jan 21 at 2:56pm CST · View

I had a stroke/ TIA back in September 2015. I was riding home from out of town and got about 30 miles outside of San Angelo TX and the whole side of my left face wrapping around my throat area went dumb for just a second then I got real hot and then freezing. I was trying to tell my sister I wanted a blanket and I knew what I wanted to say but I [...]


deb responded Sat, Nov 12 at 12:46pm CST · View

i had a car accident in may 2015 and had a blackout. i never had one before, on or off the job, i was a letter carrier in the mail truck for 34 years. my eyes were totally black but iwas able to walk away from the accident. i should've went to the hospital but didn't. went to my dr. the next day and he said i looked good minus all the bruises.on july 15 [...]

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Apr 30, 2014 by @cindyweiss · View  

She Was Born with Two Holes in Her Heart and No One Knew

Ileana Hernandez, 27-years old, was born with two holes in her heart.

Lung transplant brings unexpected answers to 27-year-old

Ileana Hernandez was born with two holes in her heart. But for 27 years, no one knew.

Hernandez, a computer systems engineer, worked long hours at her job with Bank of America in Jacksonville, Fla. She had transferred from her native Mexico because of her particular set of skills. Things were going fine until she started to notice shortness of breath when she climbed to her upstairs apartment.

“I had an explanation for everything -- it was the long hours, or the weekend-long computer installations, or the fact that I hadn’t slept in two days,” Hernandez recalls. As the youngest of three children growing up in Guadalajara, Mexico, she had led a normal life, did weight training in high school, participated in folkloric dancing -- including some parades -- and had no problem getting through college.

“Exhaustion was my justification [for the symptoms],” Hernandez says. But one evening, as she climbed the steps to her apartment with two bags of groceries, she ran out of breath and had to hold on to the rail. She felt pain in her chest. She composed herself and still went to work to do an evening computer systems installation thinking that the chest pain would go away. It didn’t, and by the next day she knew it was time to find a doctor. [...]

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Sep 1, 2013 by @cindyweiss · View  

Eluding the 'Widow Maker': The Checkup that Saved His Life

George Roberts, vice president of a Florida-based road construction and contracting company

“You have to go to know.”

George Roberts will tell you he’s a busy man — too busy to worry about a physical.

As vice president of a Florida-based road construction and contracting company and chair of two industry groups, he’s got a lot to oversee. Taking time for a doctor’s visit wasn’t on his schedule.

However, Roberts refused to be absent when his wife, Stephanie, was scheduled for a preventive surgical procedure at Mayo Clinic earlier this summer. With her urging, he agreed to schedule a checkup at the same time. His wife’s insistence and that physical exam probably saved his life.

Roberts, then 46, was eligible to participate in Mayo Clinic’s Executive Health Program, best described as a comprehensive physical taking place over one to three days. The specialized program has served busy executives for more than 30 years and offers an efficient, cost-effective way to proactively manage health.


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Traci responded Oct 11, 2013 · View

Thank you for sharing your story. My father had to have open heart surgery about 5 months ago for 2 bypasses. One of his bypasses was in the "widow maker" area as well.


pissed responded Oct 14, 2013 · View

would rather eat what I flush down the toilet b/4 letting the staff in the cardio dept. touch me . To coin a phrase "give me liberty, or give me death". Mayo's staff does not recognize your legal rights, granted this is my opinion, but it happened to me it can happen to you!

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Jul 11, 2013 by @cindyweiss · View  

Anna's Story: A Personal Approach to Cancer

Anna and her daughter, Taylor, vacationing last summer in Mount Eagle, TN.

Anna (left) and her daughter, Taylor, vacationing last summer in Mount Eagle, TN.

At age 30, Anna Webster was a busy single mom juggling work and caring for her 11-year-old daughter. She didn’t have time to be sick. But after passing out one evening in the spring of 2009, she spent three days in a Jacksonville, Fla., emergency room while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong. Her potassium level was extremely low and her kidneys were having issues. Then a CT scan found a mass on her liver.


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May 31, 2013 by @cindyweiss · View  

Adventures of a 31-year-old Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

Dorylee Baez (in purple) and a group of friends and supporters enjoy a zip lining adventure at Toro Verde in Orocovis, Puerto Rico.

Dorylee Baez (in purple) and a group of friends and supporters from the newly formed Asociación Puertorriqueña del Cáncer del Páncreas enjoy a zip lining adventure at Toro Verde in Orocovis, Puerto Rico.

Dorylee Baez lives fearlessly.

Whether flying down a zip line or organizing a pancreatic cancer patient group in Puerto Rico, she plunges into life with zest.

The 31-year-old academic advisor at Universidad del Este in Carolina, Puerto Rico, is known as someone who is tenacious, overcoming whatever obstacles get in her way to achieve and achieve her goals.

For instance, Baez attended college while simultaneously working and caring for her ailing mother who was suffering from lupus. After her mother died, Baez pressed on to honor her memory and completed a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in college-level education administration. But then, at 29, Baez learned she had a large tumor in her pancreas. Not the diagnosis she was expecting when she went to the doctor.


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Heidicunningham responded Nov 20, 2015 · View

Hi What were Dorylee's symptoms, that prompted her to go to the Doctor??

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May 29, 2013 by @cindyweiss · View  

Soccer Mom Strokes on the Field

Jessica Cook and her sons (from left) Jonah, Josh and Jacob.

The phrase “soccer mom” might be a cliché, but for Jessica Cook of Jacksonville, Fla., it was apropos. The mom of three boys (ages 6, 10 and 13) spent hours in the car each week driving her sons from one field to another for their weekly soccer 500 Internal Server Error

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