Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

May 23rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

Celebrating 40 Twice as Nice After Recovery From Surprising Stroke

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., enjoys time with family after a stroke.It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and despite having house guests, Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., awoke at 6 a.m., just as she did every day, and began planning her morning run.

Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, she’d made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.

Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling “off.” Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.  [...]

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr Benjamin Brown, Florida Campus, Patent Foramen Ovale, Sherry Pinkstaff, stroke

May 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Discerning Physician Turns to Mayo Clinic for Cancer Care

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. James Biles turned to Mayo Clinic after his cancer diagnosis.  Jim Biles, M.D., understands cancer treatment. A urologist who specializes in cancer surgery, he has spent his career focused on helping people receive the cancer care they need. So at age 72, when Dr. Biles received his own diagnosis of an aggressive type of cancer, he knew how critical it would be to get treatment from someone with experience and expertise.

"When I found out I had a bone tumor, I started hunting around to see who could do the surgery. It turned out that there are very few people in the world I would trust with it," he says. "Not many do it, and even fewer have the experience that Dr. Sim does. He is the kingpin."

Dr. Sim is Franklin Sim, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. After a consultation with Dr. Sim, Jim decided to go through with a complex surgery at Mayo to treat his cancer.

"Being a doctor, I was pretty picky about all the details being well managed," he says. "It was exceptional. I really couldn't have had a better experience."  [...]

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Tags: Cancer, Chondrosarcoma, Dr David Lewallen, Dr Franklin Sim, Dr Peter Rose, Hemipelvectomy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

May 19th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Teacher Smelling the Roses Again Thanks to Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

LucyLorden805For years, Lucy Lorden suffered from an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. But one April morning in 2014, the Ormond Beach, Florida, elementary school teacher was barely able to walk from the parking lot to her classroom.

Thinking she had pneumonia, Lucy, then 56, went to see her primary care doctor. “The doctor told me to go to the emergency room right away,” she recalls. “My heart was beating at 192 beats per minute.”

At the local hospital, doctors diagnosed Lucy with atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper heart chambers, the atria, beat irregularly.

Lucy visited a local cardiologist, who prescribed several medications to regulate her rapid heartbeat and her thyroid levels. He advised follow-up every three months and once she turned 60, blood thinners to prevent a stroke. Unfortunately, just a few months shy of her 57th birthday, she would need more than simple follow-up. [...]

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Tags: Ablation, atrial fibrillation, Atrial Flutter, Florida Campus, irregular heartbeat, stroke

May 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Florida Chef Finds Expertise to Manage Rare Disease, Get His Life Back

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Chef Stefan is back on his feet with help from Mayo Clinic.When 67-year-old Stefan Gyorkos of St. Augustine, Florida, noticed swelling in his feet several years ago, he didn't think much of it. After all, as chef at a local golf and country club, he is on his feet for hours at a time.

That seemingly innocent ailment, however, would eventually lead to a series of tests and ultimately a diagnosis of a rare disease known as amyloidosis for which he required a bone marrow transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

Amyloidosis occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in the organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is usually produced in the bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ in the body. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure. While there's no cure for the disease, the symptoms often can be managed, reducing the production of amyloid protein.  [...]

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Tags: Amyloidosis, bone marrow transplant, Dr Sikander Ailawadhi, Florida Campus

May 13th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Memories of Marlow Cowan

By Lee Aase LeeAase

Marlow and Fran Cowan play the piano at Mayo Clinic. Marlow Cowan, whose playful piano duet in our Mayo Clinic atrium with his wife, Frances, became a YouTube sensation and led to national and international TV appearances, has passed away at age 97.

I got the news early yesterday in an email from the Cowans’ daughter, DeDe Shour:
One of the last questions a week ago my Dad asked me was, "Do you think there will be a piano in heaven I can play?" (Of course our Dad could never pass up a piano without playing it). I told him I was certain there was something similar to a piano but much more glorious and that I was sure he would be joining with the angels playing it for the Lord.

So if you happen to hear some rag-time music floating through the air, smile....cause it's just our dad playing the piano as he brings joy to those who have gone before him.
Mr. Cowan certainly brought joy to millions while he was here. So with DeDe’s permission, I want to share some memories of Marlow and also let you remember (or see for the first time) for yourself.  [...]

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Tags: Frances Cowan, Marlow Cowan, Good Morning, piano

May 10th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Love and Determination Help Brennan Get Back on His Feet in Time to Walk Down the Aisle

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BrennanFarley805Before October 2015, Brennan Farley had never broken a bone in his body. That changed dramatically when a horrific vehicle accident landed the 30-year-old farm worker in Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, for two months.

Due to Brennan's extensive injuries, doctors were concerned he might not be able to walk again. But with the help of a supportive care team and the love and encouragement of his fiancée, Kayla, Brennan progressed enough in his recovery to go home in December 2015. And to walk down the aisle at the end of his wedding ceremony a month later, with a little help and with his new bride by his side.

"The people at Saint Marys really cared about me," Brennan says. "They want their work to be great, and it shows. It really shows." And he would certainly need their best efforts.  [...]

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Tags: Critical Care, Emergency Department, General Surgery, Rehabilitation, Trauma

May 9th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Simulation and Reality Meet to Find Ideal Surgical Approach for Florida Patient

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Chad Thompson and Dr. John Casler discuss the results of recent surgery.

For six months, Chad Thompson slept sitting up to ease debilitating headaches caused by a tumor growing on a nerve in his head. Now, after a successful surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus in March, the 40-year-old Jacksonville resident is having conversations with friends and co-workers that he never expected.

“People keep asking, ‘When are you going to have that surgery,’” says Chad, a married father of three children and an executive at an aerospace company. “They’re shocked when I say, ‘I already had it,’ and I’m not sure they believe me.”

The reason for this response is that he has no visible scars from the operation, which his surgeon, John Casler, M.D., performed with help from the Anatomage “virtual dissection” machine in the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation Center.  [...]

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Tags: Dr John Casler, Otorhinolaryngoloyg, Schwannoma, Simulation Center, anatomage, Chad Thompson, Florida, MayoClinicFL

April 22nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Following Her Father's Last Words, Vivian Finds New Life Because of Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

VivianTsai805Vivian Tsai remembers the last words her father said to her: "See a doctor." He recognized her symptoms.

For years, puzzling symptoms and a troubling medical condition had stalked their family. Growing up in Taiwan, Vivian was athletic and seemed to be healthy. However, she began to lose strength in her early 30s and went to the doctor with her father, Paul. Vivian was told she had a heart condition. "But no one really explained the problem to me," she says.

At first, Vivian was able to dismiss the symptoms. She even competed in a triathlon at age 40. But as she watched another member of her family struggle with symptoms she recognized in herself, her own condition became harder to ignore.

Over time, Vivian's symptoms had taken hold of her life, affecting her daily activities. She was not able to talk for more than 30 seconds without losing breath. While eating dinner, Vivian would often have to lie down for half an hour before returning to her meal because she would become so tired and lightheaded. Vivian's fear of having arrhythmia attacks also hindered her social life.

"I was afraid to go out on my own even to take a simple walk in the park," she says. "I didn't dare do that by myself."  [...]

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Tags: Apical Myectomy, Development, Heart Disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, International Medicine

April 13th, 2016 · 1 Comment

New Surgery for Scoliosis Keeps Teen Agile and Active

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

CamdenChristopher350

Camden Christopherson (second from left) with Stephen Cassivi, M.D., A. Noelle Larson, M.D., and Teresa Christopherson.

Camden Christopherson is an athlete: volleyball, basketball, softball, cross-country. She does them all. So when doctors told her, at age 13, that she had to wear a brace for 22 hours a day to combat scoliosis, and surgery to fuse her spine was likely in her future, Camden was devastated.

These treatments could help correct the severe spinal curve that had developed quickly during a growth spurt, her doctors said. But Camden didn't want to give up her flexibility and freedom of movement. And her mother, Teresa Christopherson, wasn't ready to accept that a brace and fusion surgery were her daughter's only choices.

"I wanted a second opinion," Teresa says. "I wasn't going to go forward based on one recommendation, so we went to Mayo."

At Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, mother and daughter met A. Noelle Larson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, who discussed another possibility with them: anterior vertebral body tethering, or VBT, a new surgery for scoliosis that doesn't involve fusing vertebrae together. It was just the answer they needed.  [...]

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Tags: Dr. Noelle Larson, Dr Stephen Cassivi, Dr Todd Milbrandt, Orthopedic Surgery, Scoliosis

April 10th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Heart Transplant Opens Door to Leading a Full Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

TaraBrigham2-805For 33-year-old Tara Brigham of Jacksonville, Florida, living with a heart condition since birth wasn't something that was going to get in the way of living an active normal life. In fact, she says the heart transplant she received six years ago as a result of her condition has made her life even more fulfilling.

A Minnesota native, Tara was diagnosed with enlargement of the heart during a routine checkup when she was 1 year old. While she had not had any symptoms of a heart problem since birth, the enlargement was significant enough that her physician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus suggested that a biopsy of her heart should be done right away. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body to vital organs.

Tara's heart was monitored closely by her doctors at Mayo Clinic and later a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy specialist at the University of Minnesota. Since Tara was an active, healthy child otherwise, and what was known about her condition in children was limited, she was not put on medication, but doctors advised that she avoid strenuous activities.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Daniel Yip, Florida Campus, heart transplant, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, ventricular assist device

April 1st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

A New Weapon in the Arsenal for Patient With Stubborn Cancer: Proton Beam Therapy

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

AudraPopp805

Audra Popp has a rare tumor – anaplastic pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, also known as anaplastic PXA. Only a handful of people are diagnosed with this condition each year. Audra is the first person at Mayo Clinic with anaplastic PXA to be treated with proton beam therapy.

Audra had 20 proton beam therapy sessions to try to destroy fast-growing cells possibly left behind after surgery.

But proton beam therapy is just the latest step in the battle against Audra's tumor. She's had five craniotomies since 2001, and she has a scar from her right ear to the crown of her head as evidence. She had surgeries at Mayo in 2007, 2009, 2014 and 2015. She also has had three regimens of chemotherapy through the years and six weeks of radiation therapy at Mayo Clinic in 2007.

The tumor has become more aggressive. And each time her surgeons think they have it completely removed, it comes back. [...]

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Tags: anaplastic PXA, clinical trials, craniotomy, Dr Jan Buckner, Dr Nadia Laack, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Proton Beam Therapy

March 31st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Lung Cancer Patient Survives With Help of Novel Procedure, Celebrates Next Generation of Innovation

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Raegan Cury

Raegan Cury didn’t worry at first when she developed a cough in early 2002 that wouldn’t go away. She was a healthy young woman, athletic, a former gymnast, and her initial chest X-ray showed what looked like pneumonia.

Even her husband, a pulmonologist, wasn't too worried, until she received a surprising diagnosis. “I never thought it was going to be bronchoalveolar lung cancer,” says her husband, Dave Cury, M.D.

Raegan, who lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida, had surgery to remove the cancer and woke up with just one lung, due to the extent of the disease. The surgery was followed by four rounds of chemotherapy, but in 2003, tests found cancer nodules throughout her remaining lung. 

That was a dark period for Reagan and her family. She and her husband started their two young children, Chandler and Davis, in grief counseling.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Cesar Keller, Florida Campus, lung cancer, lung transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Raegan Cury

March 23rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Sarcoma Diagnosis Proves to be a Blessing for Young Mom

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Paige Douglas and her family on the family farm.Growing up on a farm in central Florida, Paige Douglas enjoyed a unique childhood, caring for a menagerie of animals, horseback riding, even barrel racing at local rodeos.

But, when she was 10, Paige inadvertently hit her left knee while bouncing on a trampoline. Though she had no visible cuts, pain radiated up and down her leg.

Later, Paige would say, “It felt like I had a BB pellet stuck in there.”

Her knee became so sensitive that the slightest touch or inadvertent bump would “bring excruciating pain, sending me to the ground, screaming and crying,” she recalls.

Paige visited countless doctors near her home in Ocala, Florida, trying different medications, topical treatments and steroid injections. The pain persisted. After an exploratory surgery in 2001, doctors told her she had a neuroma, an area of increased sensitivity and pain that often develops after physical trauma to a nerve. They said removing it should resolve the issues.

It did, but only for a short time. Then the pain returned. [...]

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Tags: Dr Courtney Sherman, Dr Peter Murray, Dr Steven Attia, Paige Douglas, sarcoma, synovial sarcoma, patient story, Florida Campus

March 19th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Back in the Symphony After Surgery to Remove Brain Tumor

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Stewart Rosen in back in tune after surgery for acoustic neuroma.Stewart Rosen was beyond anxious when he learned he had a tumor the size of a walnut by his right ear. The tumor was benign. But Stewart, an accountant by day and violinist by night, worried that removing the tumor, an acoustic neuroma, might affect his ability to play music.

"I'd never had any kind of surgery or hospitalization before," he says. And with the surgery he'd need to remove this tumor, Stewart knew that he'd lose hearing in his right ear. That wasn't all. "I was afraid a facial nerve might become paralyzed or my vision would be affected," he says.

Stewart noticed a change in his hearing in his right ear, and a friend had recommended he see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. That doctor detected a major difference in hearing between Stewart's ears and ordered an MRI to rule out a brain tumor. Unfortunately, the MRI pointed to an acoustic neuroma.  [...]

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Tags: Acoustic Neuroma, Audiology, Dr Michael Link, ENT, neurosurgery, Rochester Campus, Dr Colin Driscoll

March 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Hope for 'Happy, Healthy Life' Thanks to Answers for 'Never Seen Before' Problems

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Mallory Henthorn's family found hope for a rare condition at Mayo Clinic.
Written by Bethany Henthorn
Our daughter, Mallory, was born with several congenital defects known cloacal exstrophy (OEIS – omphalocele, bladder exstrophy, imperforate anus and spinal defects) found in 1 and 400,000 live births. After Mallory’s 20-week gestational ultrasound, we were referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, from Mayo Clinic Health System – Red Cedar in Menomonie.

We instantly became patients of the Maternal Fetal Medicine team and were both closely monitored until birth. This monitoring involved several tests, ultrasounds and appointments. Mallory was born at 38 weeks' gestation at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus, on Oct. 19, 2014.

The defects identified at birth were more serious and complicated than originally predicted through prenatal monitoring. In the beginning, we wondered how these abnormalities were missed in the extensive prenatal monitoring. It was explained that Mallory’s condition of OEIS is so rare that the Maternal Fetal Medicine team did not know to even look for that type of defect.

Mallory spent her first 83 days at Mayo Clinic. Most days were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but the last few weeks were on the general pediatric floor.  [...]

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Tags: Cloacal Exstrophy, Labor and Delivery, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, NICU, Obstetrics and Gynecology, OEIS, Patient Stories, Prenatal Monitoring

March 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Eight Lessons on "Compassion in Health Care" From the Dalai Lama

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives a talk on "Compassion in Health Care" to Mayo Clinic staff. "A more compassionate mind is very, very helpful to good health."

"Loving kindness, warm-heartedness are keys to health."

"Each of us has some responsibility to make a contribution."

"You can lead this moment because you practice these things."

These words from His Holiness the Dalai Lama resonated with Mayo Clinic staff and guests gathered to hear a special talk on "Compassion in Health Care" on Monday, Feb. 29, at the chapel on the Saint Marys Campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester. The Dalai Lama's message was especially pertinent in a setting with a strong connection to the Mayo Clinic Value Statements, which include the values of compassion, respect and healing, all of which came up repeatedly in the Dalai Lama's talk and question-and-answer session that followed.  [...]

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Tags: Compassion, Dalai Lama, healing, Mayo Clinic Values, Meditation

March 2nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Resilient Young Woman Finds Hope Despite Hurdles, Shares Story at Fiesta Bowl

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FiestaBowl805

Mayo Clinic's Kelly Curtis, M.D., and Megan LaChance at the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016.

Megan LaChance used to dream of being a successful business woman. But a series of events, medical and otherwise, led her on a different path – an educational path that culminated with her sharing her surprising story at the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona on Jan. 1, 2016.

Even though she's just 24 years old, Megan has had a lifetime's worth of trials and tribulations.

When Megan was 19, she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer.

At the age of 21, just two months after Megan married her high school sweetheart, she was presented with another challenge. Nagging pain that she believed to be caused by sciatica turned out to be advanced bone cancer.  [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, bone cancer, Dr Kelly Curtis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome

February 29th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Professional Outdoorsman Lives Life to the Fullest After Liver Transplant

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Steve and Maria Woodford are back to active lifestyles after transplant and cancer care at Mayo Clinic.Being diagnosed with bile duct cancer that eventually necessitated a liver transplant wasn't enough to keep Steve Woodford down for long. A South African native living in Utah, Steve is professional skydiving instructor, backpacker and canyon guide in Zion National Park. He has always lived on the edge with his active outdoors lifestyle. Getting sick unexpectedly during a backpacking trip to Belize two years ago seemed like just another challenge he had to overcome.

"My wife and I had just arrived in Belize to do some backpacking and visit the Mayan ruins, when I woke up itching, and noticed a yellow tint to my eyes and skin," Steve says. "I saw a local doctor for a blood test, urine test and ultrasound, and was told I had hepatitis C and needed to go straight home for immediate treatment. Little did I know what was to come after returning home to Utah."  [...]

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Tags: bile duct cancer, Breast Cancer, Florida Campus, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

February 22nd, 2016 · 1 Comment

Successful Treatment in a Clinical Trial Means More Celebrations for Bridget Clausen

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BridgetBillBirthday805Bridget Clausen refers to her seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as "the love of my life." She treasures each of them and is proud to have a great-granddaughter named after her. The joy of a namesake is especially sweet, because when Bridget learned her granddaughter was pregnant, she wasn't sure she would be here to meet the baby.

At that time, Bridget was being treated for melanoma that had spread to several places in her body. Her treatment choices were dwindling. She decided to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to see if doctors could offer any other options. As a result of that visit, Bridget enrolled in a clinical trial of a new drug. It turned out to be the answer she needed.

The drug, now available under the brand name Keytruda, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration  in December 2015 as a first-line treatment for advanced melanoma. Interestingly, the foundation of the drug's development began in a Mayo Clinic lab more than 15 years ago. In Bridget's case, it successfully shrunk her tumors and stopped the spread of cancer. It also gave her the opportunity to meet her new great-granddaughter.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Haidong Dong, Dr Roxana Dronca, Keytruda, Melanoma, MK-3475, Mole, clinical trials, immunotherapy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

February 19th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Many Hands Make Hopeful Work for Nielsen Boys

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NielsenFamily805"There is something wrong" are words no expectant parent ever wants to hear. And for Ryan and Kathy Nielsen, they came just 20 weeks into Kathy's first pregnancy. The couple was eagerly awaiting the arrival of their child and had been busy getting their home ready. Then, doctors diagnosed their unborn son, Aaron, with congenital diaphragmatic hernia during Kathy's 20-week ultrasound. After the shock wore off, the couple began a search for answers that ultimately led them to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus.

"We debated on a number of facilities after Aaron's diagnosis, but we ended up coming to Mayo, because they offered an ECMO (heart and lung machine) as part of his treatment if he were to need it," Kathy says. "The other medical facilities did not."  [...]

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Tags: Be the Match, bone marrow transplant, Dr Shakila Khan, Neonatal Intensive Care, transplant, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

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