Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

July 27th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After Learning Flu-Like Symptoms Were Actually Thyroid Cancer, Mother Shares Advice to Help Save Others

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

BethSpreitzer805It was 2012, and Beth Spreitzer was busy with life. Mothering her fourth-grade daughter and taking care of a household left no time to get sick. However, after experiencing what she thought were too many common symptoms – fatigue, chills, fever – and not improving, Beth thought something else must be wrong.

"In the past, the most I'd ever have to fight off was a cold. I attributed my recent symptoms to being busy and getting older," Beth says.

During a routine visit, her gynecologist noticed her thyroid was inflamed and tender to the touch. This butterfly-shaped gland rests in the bottom of the neck, around the windpipe. It has two side lobes that you can't feel when the thyroid is its normal size. The gland secretes hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

Her doctor asked if she'd been sick. Beth confirmed that yes, she suffered from a fever and chills a couple of weeks earlier and even had a cold sore, which for her was uncommon. But she admits she didn't think much about the conversation afterward.  [...]

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Tags: Dr John Casler, Dr Michael Meneffee, Dr Steven Buskirk, Dr Victor Bernet, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Thyroid cancer

July 23rd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

'All We Want Is for Evie to Reach 100 Percent of Her Potential'

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Evie McLeish at Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Center. The night before 8-year-old Evie McLeish’s brain surgery, her Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., told her parents, "I don’t want you to think of this as the end. This is just the beginning of a marathon."

The procedure was the start of Evie’s long-term care plan for treatment of a brain tumor. Along with the brain surgery, that plan included chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Due to her age and the location of her tumor, though, her doctors recommended Evie receive proton beam therapy instead of conventional radiation therapy.

The timing was right. Mayo Clinic had just begun a new Proton Beam Therapy Program at its Rochester, Minnesota, campus. And not only was this unique treatment readily available to Evie, it was relatively close to her family’s home in Ankeny, Iowa, just a three-hour drive away.

"We were dealt a big blow with Evie’s tumor," says her mother, Ali McLeish. "But there have been silver linings in this whole thing, including that we could get proton beam therapy without having to travel across the country."  [...]

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Tags: brain tumor, Dr David Daniels, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Medullablastoma, Proton Beam Therapy

July 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Volleyball Player Realizes Her Dream With Help From Her Mayo Clinic Team

By Linda Binner lsbinner

Volleyball player Brooke Johnson was inspired by her care team after her hip surgery.As senior captain of her high school volleyball team, Brooke Johnson was determined to lead her squad to the state tournament. Never mind that the team hadn’t made it there before. Or that her small school had never sent any athletic team to a state tournament. Or that Brooke had health issues that made playing a challenge. Not even that she required extensive hip surgery four months before the season started. None of that mattered to Brooke.

“I was convinced we could do it,” she says. “That’s what I was working toward, and I refused to give up.”

The obstacles in her path were significant. Her team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, worked with Brooke, though, to see her through to her goal. And in November 2015, her Heritage Christian Academy volleyball team made its first appearance in the Minnesota state high school tournament, earning third place overall.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Bruce Levy, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, orthopedic surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

July 20th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Unique Form of Genetic Testing Uncovers the Reason for Years of Mysterious Symptoms

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

SharonMills805When she was a teenager, Sharon Mills started having excruciating pain after eating. Medical tests found abnormalities with her liver but no reason for the irregularities or pain. She continued to experience the troubling symptoms for decades.

As an adult, Sharon moved to different parts of the country several times. With each move, she visited academic medical centers and underwent a wide variety of tests and procedures in hopes of uncovering a reason for her pain. No one could give her an answer, until she moved to Jacksonville, Florida.  [...]

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Tags: Consultative and Diagnostic Medicine, Dr Floyd Willis, Dr Paldeep Atwal, Family Medicine, Florida, Metabolomics

July 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Refusing to Give Up After Devastating Accident, A Farmer Finds Help and Healing at Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Gene Franke is back on his feet after farm accident. When Gene Franke left his farm in rural Hayfield, Minnesota, driving a semi-trailer truck loaded with hay and bound for Oklahoma, he never imagined the return leg of his journey would be as a passenger in an air ambulance jet. But in September 2011, that’s exactly what happened.

A serious accident left Gene paralyzed and in critical condition. Doctors in Oklahoma didn’t think he would survive. Longtime patients of Mayo Clinic, Gene and his wife, Barbara, were determined to get him back to Mayo's Rochester, Minnesota, campus for care.

“The doctors at Mayo Clinic knew what was going on, and they assured us they could do something for him,” Barbara says. “We knew he had to get up here. The care at Mayo Clinic is like nowhere else. We’re used to it, and that’s what we wanted.”  [...]

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Tags: Mayo MedAir, Rehabilitation, air ambulance, neurosurgery, spinal cord injury

July 8th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Desperate for Relief From Pain, Teen Considered Amputation. Today, He's Back on Both Feet

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

The Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program gave Connor Bleakley the confidence to function at a very high level.When he was 16 years old, Connor Bleakley asked his father, David, if he could have his foot amputated. David thought it was probably a good idea.

By that point, Connor had lived with severe pain in his foot and ankle for years. He had gone through numerous treatments to relieve the discomfort, with little effect. A sophomore in high school, Connor was unable to walk without crutches due to intense pain. So when, in desperation, Connor asked to have his foot taken off, David didn't see any other choices.

[...]

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Tags: Dr Tracy Harrison, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Pain Medicine, Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Program

July 1st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Remembrance Events at Mayo Clinic Give Family Time to Reflect and Share

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Carol Mannell remembers her sister, Kathy VanHulle, as a woman who always loved meeting new people and having fun. Carol Mannell remembers her younger sister, Kathy VanHulle, as a woman who loved meeting new people and having fun. Carol recalls how, despite being in the midst of receiving care for a serious illness when she was at Mayo Clinic, Kathy would take time to strike up conversations with people sitting next to her in waiting rooms. She would ask them to write messages in a journal she carried with her. Kathy and Carol would sing together in her hospital room.

Kathy even convinced members of her care team at Mayo Clinic to get up and dance.

“We had a lot of fun. Everywhere Kathy went at Mayo, we’d talk, laugh and get people to do the happy dance with her,” Carol says. “She had a big personality.”

[...]

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Tags: Dr Mark Litzow, Hematology Oncology, Mayo Medical School, Mayo School of Health Sciences

June 30th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Quick Access to Stroke Experts Through Telemedicine Makes All the Difference for George Hoggard

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

GeorgeHoggard805b George Hoggard knows a thing or two about the importance of a rapid response. A former firefighter, the 78-year-old Titusville, Florida, resident spent the better part of his 42-year career teaching astronauts at the Kennedy Space Center how to escape to safety in the event of an emergency on the launch pad. He also was a member of the rescue team that would respond if something went wrong with a space shuttle mission.

So when his right eye suddenly began looking left while watching TV on a Sunday evening in April 2016, George knew something was amiss. When he began feeling nauseated, he told his wife, Rita, he needed to get to the hospital.  [...]

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Tags: Dr David Barrett, Florida Campus, Mayo Clinic Care Network, stroke, Stroke Telemedicine

June 28th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After a Long, Long Wait, a Transplant, Gratitude and Goodbyes

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Randy Marlow with two of his transplant nurses. When Randy Marlow checked into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys Campus, he knew his hospital stay would be lengthy. He just wasn’t expecting it to last one year, seven months and 21 days.

As someone who needed dual heart and liver transplants, Randy knew the probability of two suitable donor organs becoming available at the same time was small. Moreover, his rare blood type, coupled with a buildup of antibodies from multiple blood transfusions related to prior heart surgeries, meant he would be incompatible with all but 10 to 20 percent of organ donors, according to his physicians.

So Randy, an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed snowmobiling back home in the Colorado Rockies, riding his ATV, and camping, shifted his perspective from action to endurance.

Patience became the operative word. "You have to take it day by day and wait for that right day, for the miracle," Randy says.  [...]

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Tags: heart transplant, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

June 26th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Former Airman, Stroke Survivor Tells of Life Punctuated by Commas

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Former senior airman, R. Brady Johnson, survived a cerebral hemorrhage and stroke.When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.

It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a major stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.

[...]

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Tags: Cerebral Hemorrhage, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, stroke

June 25th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

‘How’d We Get So Lucky?’ — Proton Beam Therapy Available at the Right Time for Jackson

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Proton beam therapy was available at the right time for Jackson Fisher.

For two weeks, 14-year-old Jackson Fisher was plagued by headaches, double-vision, nausea and weight loss. His parents, Michelle and Patrick Fisher, weren’t sure what was wrong. But when Jackson came home one evening completely exhausted after lacrosse practice, they decided it was time to find out what was going on. The next day, they took Jackson to the emergency room.

What doctors found during that ER visit triggered a series of events the Fishers never could have anticipated and that eventually led the family to Mayo Clinic’s Proton Beam Therapy Program, where Jackson received treatment for a brain tumor.

“Every single person we’ve met at Mayo Clinic has been amazing, and we feel like we were meant to meet them,” says Michelle. “His doctors told us they were going to fight for Jackson. They’ve been forthcoming and explained things simply and honestly. I never second guessed his care. Being at Mayo Clinic has been the most positive experience of our lives.”  [...]

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Tags: Dr. Amulya Nageswara Rao, Dr David Daniels, Dr Nadia Laack, Nancy Heinzelman, Proton Beam Therapy, Randy McKeeman

June 18th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Family Tradition Inspires New Chimes for Plummer Building Carillon  

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Carillonneur Jeff Daehn and Dr. David Daugherty with the carillon recording. When David R. Daugherty, M.D., was growing up in Rochester, he walked to Central Junior High School with his father, Guy Daugherty, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

"Since our school was on dad’s way to the clinic, he made a tradition of walking with each of us kids when we reached junior high age," says Dr. Daugherty, when went on to join Mayo Clinic himself, as a psychiatrist. "We checked our progress by the bells in the Plummer Building. Hearing the chimes helped us get to school on time."

That youthful memory led to an idea: Could the carillon have a set of chimes that are unique to Mayo Clinic?  [...]

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Tags: Carillon, Dr David Daugherty, Heritage Days, Jeff Daehn, Mayo Clinic history, Rochester Campus

June 17th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Difficult Diagnosis Interrupts Residency, Gives Young Doctor a New View of Patient Care

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D. plans to apply for fellowships in hematology and medical oncology after uncovering the cause of her illness.Successfully finishing a medical residency is a significant milestone in any physician's career. But when Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D., graduated in June 2016 from the Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, the achievement felt particularly sweet.

"It was an incredible success for me, since I actually started my residency in 2012, completed four months, and then became too ill to work," she says. "At that time, I wasn't sure if I'd ever reach graduation."

[...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Fadi Shamoun, Dr Leslie Thomas, Dr Natalie Ertz-Archambault, Dr Richard Fowl, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Internal Medicine Residency

June 15th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Treatment to Slow a Quick Heartbeat Returns Jim Davis to His Fast-Paced Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jim Davis is back to an active life after cardiac ablation.For 10 years, Jim Davis had a rapid heartbeat. He was otherwise healthy, though, so Jim wasn't particularly worried about it. He blamed the quick heart rate on his morning coffee.

In time, however, the condition began to affect his daily life. Medication didn't seem to help. When Jim sought care at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, his doctor discovered an underlying heart disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

Doctors were able to address his heart problems with a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation.

Today Jim's heart is still in rhythm. The rest of his life picked up the beat. [...]

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Tags: cardiac catheter ablation, Dr. Fred Kusumoto, Florida Campus, Heart Arrhythmia, rapid heartbeat, tachycardia

June 9th, 2016 · 1 Comment

An Answer for Luis – Surgeons Remove Polyp-Riddled Colon, Restore Function and Hope

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Luis Coriano meets with his medical team. Deciding to undergo a surgery to remove your colon is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it was one that Luis Coriano faced earlier this year. And he and his family wanted to make sure they made the right call.

Luis is affected by a rare genetic disorder called familial adenomatous polyposis that causes thousands of polyps to grow in the colon and ultimately leads to cancer. He knew that a prophylactic surgery to remove the diseased organ was the only way to prevent cancer from ravaging his body.

As daunting as the surgery was, however, more worrisome to Luis, was what came after the surgery. Namely, living with a stoma and an ostomy bag.  [...]

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Tags: colorectal surgery, Dr Eric Dozois, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, Colon Cancer

June 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Moving Beyond a Painful Decade – New Technology Offers Respite From Debilitating Leg Pain

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Gary Sorcic found relief for extreme leg pain.In the fall of 2014, Gary Sorcic was desperate. Severe, unrelenting pain in his legs had tormented him for 10 years. He was ready to take extreme measures.

"I told my doctor that if he had to cut my spinal cord and put me in a wheelchair to get rid of the pain, that's what I would do," Gary says.

Fortunately, that was not necessary. Instead, Gary found and enrolled in a clinical research trial at Mayo Clinic studying the effectiveness of a new technology to relieve nerve pain such as his. It made a tremendous difference. "I never imagined my legs feeling this good again," he says. "The study was a godsend for me." [...]

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Tags: chronic pain, clinical trial, Dr Charles Loprinzi, nerve pain, Pain Rehabilitation, Scrambler Therapy

May 31st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Physician Is One of the First Proton Beam Patients in Arizona

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. Leslie Milde was one of the first proton beam therapy patients in Arizona. People often don't hear the phrase, "You are the most important person in my life today," especially from those other than family. However, Leslie Milde, M.D., has heard it often — from her patients. She is well aware of the significance of her role in the operating room, and the apprehension felt by patients about to undergo surgery.

Now the tables are turned, and as one of the first five patients undergoing proton beam therapy at the newly opened Mayo Clinic Building in Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life — the team of specialists treating her spinal meningioma, a condition where tumors arise from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Leslie Milde, Dr Naresh Patel, Dr Sujay Vora, Proton Beam Therapy, Spinal Meningioma, oncology, radiation therapy

May 29th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Limb Lengthening and Regeneration Clinic Offers Hope for Amarachi

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Amarachi talks about her experience with Blount's disease. Just six months ago, every step for Amarachi Austin-Okoh was filled with pain. The 11-year-old from Nigeria had enough trouble walking. Things like running, playing tag or playing basketball seemed like a dream. But now they're things she can look forward to, thanks to a life-changing trip to Mayo Clinic.

Amarachi has a condition called Blount's disease. Her mother, Modesther Austin-Okoh, says the family discovered the condition with Amarachi was just two years old.

Todd Milbrandt, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, describes Blount's disease as "a failure of the growth plate to grow on the inside of the knee, specifically, the top part of the tibia." In Amarachi's case, her disease progressed to the point where she had severely bowed legs.

"We wish we could have seen her walk and be like other children," her mother says. "We were always crying for her."  [...]

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Tags: Blount's Disease, Dr S Andrew Sems, Dr Todd Milbrandt, Limb Lengthening, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, orthopedic surgery

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

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