Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss)

Activity by Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss

Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Mon, Jun 2 8:27am · 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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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Fri, May 16 3:40pm · 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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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Fri, May 9 1:22pm · 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.

795,000.
That's the number of people annually in the United States who have a stroke.

130,000.
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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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Fri, May 2 9:55am · 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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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Wed, Apr 30 3:29pm · 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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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Mon, Oct 14 2013 · 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 (@tracir) responded:

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.

Posted Oct 11, 2013 · View

pissed (@pissed) responded:

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!

Posted Oct 14, 2013 · View
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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Wed, Jul 31 2013 · 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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Cynthia (Cindy) Weiss (@cindyweiss) posted · Wed, Jul 31 2013 · 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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