Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

April 22nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

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

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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

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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

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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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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

February 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Wisconsin Man's Lung Cancer Found at Early, Treatable Stage Thanks to New Screening Program

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Early screening at Mayo identified lung cancer early for Bill McWhite. Bill McWhite was vacationing along the Texas Gulf Coast — normally, a time to relax — when his body refused to let him unwind. Instead, the 69-year-old Hayward, Wisconsin, man experienced a flare up of his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, and found himself in the local hospital.

“I had congestion in my chest and was having problems breathing,” Bill says. “They gave me a couple medications, and, within two hours, everything was fine.”

That incident was motivation for Bill — a pack-a-day smoker for 55 years — to quit smoking and to seek care with a lung specialist back home. The decision would ultimately lead his doctors to find that he had lung cancer, through a new screening program that identified the cancer at an early, treatable stage.   [...]

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Tags: COPD, Dr Adel Zurob, Dr Thomas Carmody, lung cancer, Lung Cancer Screening, Mayo Clinic Health System, Pulmonary Disease

February 7th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Back in Flight After a Long Bout With Chronic Pain

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Parry Winder back in flight after pain treatment. At the age of 47, Parry Winder was looking forward to a bright future. Retired from two decades as a test and fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, Parry had transitioned into a non-military role that he relished as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. But in an instant, an accident brought Parry's aspirations for his new career crashing down.

Left with debilitating pain, Parry was forced to quit flying. He thought he'd never return to the cockpit. After searching for answers for more than eight years, though, he found the Pain Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus was able to offer a solution. Today, Parry is pain-free and back in the skies again.  [...]

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Tags: chronic pain, Dr Bryan Hoelzer, Pain Clinic, Pain Medicine, Spinal Cord Stimulator

February 3rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Wisconsin Man "Falls From Sky" and Survives

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David Edming survived a fall from the skyDavid Edming, of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, didn’t want to slow down when he retired. The U.S. Navy veteran, age 56, took up aviation and purchased a powered parachute ultralight aircraft — a three-wheeled machine with a propeller that ascends when wind fills an attached parachute.

“The thing with a powered parachute is you only fly in perfect weather,” David says. He found that perfect weather on July 2, 2013 -- a beautiful day with no wind -- and he took off from his hay field to pass by a local golf course, just as he had done many times.

After his flyby, he tried to increase altitude while making a turn, which was standard procedure. But this time, something went wrong. Although the wing should have caught the wind, it instead curled under, sending him into a nosedive. [...]

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Tags: Broken Pelvis, Dr Fernando Serna, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Medically Induced Coma, Nerve Damage, Orthopedic Surgery

January 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mother and Daughter Winning Battle With Cancer Despite Family History of the Disease

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Yadira and Valeria Zepeda are mother and daughter cancer survivors. Most of us have known someone with cancer, either in our family or with a friend or an acquaintance. But cancer can be particularly cruel when it seems to target a specific family over and over again. For the Zepeda family of Miami, cancer has stricken a mother, her daughter, a number of other family members, and even the family dog.

Yadira Zepeda, a 67-year-old mother of four adult children, was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1991 and was told by her physician in Miami that she probably had two to four months to live. Not satisfied with what she heard and unwilling to give up after receiving that devastating news, at a friend’s recommendation she came to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus for the second opinion that has given her life and hope for the past 24 years.

“My Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldn’t promise me a miracle, we would fight my disease with every available option, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and eventually with a bone marrow transplant which I received in 1994,” Yadira says. “While it’s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and I’m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasn’t supposed to be here.”

Yadira’s own battle with cancer took a back seat when in June 2008 her daughter Valeria was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after unexplained bruises began appearing on her legs and arms. Based on her mother’s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease. [...]

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Tags: Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant, Bilateral Masectomay, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, Dr Candido Rivera, Dr. Gerardo Colon-Otero, Dr Sikander Ailawashi, multiple myeloma

January 27th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mom of 6-Year-Old Counts Reasons to Take Heart Health Seriously

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Marla Burkhart made lifestyle changes to improve her heart health. Marla Burkhart's story dates back to 2009, when she underwent an emergency cesarean section at Mayo Clinic eight weeks before her due date. Before the surgery took place, doctors discovered that Marla had a condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition that occurs in about 1 in 3,000 deliveries and causes inefficient blood circulation. Despite the complications, however, Marla delivered a healthy baby boy named Noah.  [...]

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Dr Lori Blauwet, Go Red Campaign, Heart Disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy, women's health

January 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

3-D Print of Patient's Tumor Helps Surgeons Prepare, Speeds Recovery

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Michael Slag holds a 3-D image of his lungMichael Slag holds in his hands a tumor – or rather a 3-D print of the actual tumor that is growing at the top of his right lung. Doctors are using the 3-D printed model to aid them in planning the complex surgery to remove Michael’s tumor.

Mayo Clinic doctors diagnosed Michael with a rare form of lung cancer known as Pancoast tumor, a condition so rare that Mayo Clinic has only seen 60 cases in the past 20 years. [...]

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Tags: 3-D printing, Dr Jane Matsumoto, Dr Shanda Blackmon, lung cancer, thoracic surgery

January 15th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Stroke at 36 Comes as Shock, Reveals Deeper Issues

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Scott Gunderson with his familyScott Gunderson is a typical working father of three young children. His days typically are full of meetings, play dates, golf games and helping manage his busy family’s calendar. You likely wouldn't guess that the 38-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a stroke survivor and heart valve patient. [...]

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Tags: Eau Claire, Endocarditis, Mayo Clinic Health System, stroke