Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

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Apr 15, 2011 · Mayo Hematologist Joseph Mikhael, M.D., Aides A Distressed Passenger En Route to Phoenix

By Julie Janovsky-Mason

It was, perhaps, an airline passenger’s worst nightmare.

En route from North Carolina to Phoenix, Bernice Samuels, was about two hours from landing when she suddenly became ill and lost consciousness.

Samuels’ brother William Cheeks, who was travelling with her, asked the flight attendants if there was a doctor on board.

Joseph Mikhael, MD“She was not responding and appeared to be dead. Dr Mikhael came forward and quickly assessed the situation,” recounted Cheeks in a letter to Mayo Clinic, commending hematologist Joseph Mikhael, M.D., for coming to his sister’s rescue on a U.S. Airways flight in late February.

Dr. Mikhael, suspected the passenger – who was in her late 60’s, diabetic and on dialysis – was hypoglycemic.

“The medical pack on the flight was well stocked and I gave her a dose of glucose and aspirin. Thankfully she became alert rather quickly and we were able to give her fluids and monitor her for the rest of the flight,” said Dr. Mikhael, who kept the situation on the plane calm until paramedics arrived on the scene upon landing.

“Dr. Mikhael stayed with my sister throughout the whole ordeal monitoring her blood pressure and looking for any signs of brain issues or heart attack symptoms. His bedside manners were flawless,” said Cheeks, adding “Mayo Clinic should be proud to have this caliber of a doctor on staff.  It is this caliber of doctor that helps maintain the positive image Mayo Clinic has around the world.”

Dr. Mikhael, who travels often, has been in similar situations on flights many times before. He says he’s treated medically distressed passengers for hypoglycemia, dehydration and heart problems, once instructing a pilot to land after a passenger was presenting with heart attack symptoms.

His selfless efforts helping Samuels did not surprise his colleagues.

“Dr. Mikhael embodies the very mission of Mayo Clinic.  The needs of all patients come first, not only the ones in our exam rooms,” said Ruben Mesa, M.D., Chair, Hematology and Medical oncology division, Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Mar 22, 2011 · Mayo Clinic breast cancer survivors/employees take to the water to spread breast cancer awareness

Toni Kay Mangskau makes a living helping patients from around the world learn about the latest cancer research.                                                   Dragon Boat flyer

Mangskau, 45, a clinical trials referral coordinator at Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Education Center in Rochester, Minn., never imagined she would one day be a patient possibly facing cancer herself.

Numbed by the news of being diagnosed with pre-cancerous lesions during a routine mammography screening when she was 41, the Minnesota mom elected to undergo a double mastectomy to eliminate the chances of cancer forming. With no family history of breast cancer and a clear mammogram the year before her diagnosis, Mangskau was grateful her mammogram caught the abnormality early.  Following her treatment and reconstructive surgery, she made it her mission to help educate women on the importance of screening and early detection.

Mangskau chose the sport of dragon boat racing to help spread her message.  The colorful water sport has gained popularity among breast cancer survivors in recent years for its exercise benefit and additional bonus of helping to alleviate the symptoms of  Lymphedema, (a condition some breast cancer survivors deal with as a side effect ).

“We want to spread the message of the importance of getting screened and catching breast cancer early,” said Mangskau, a member of the Making Waves dragon boat team, comprised of Mayo Clinic breast cancer survivors, employees, patients and family members, who will be heading to Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend to compete in the breast cancer and women’s divisions at the 8th Annual Arizona Dragon Boat Festival and will hit the water again in Iowa this August for the “Paddle for a Cure: Breast Cancer Survivor’s Challenge” in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Come root for the Making Waves and the Mayo Clinic corporate dragon boat team Synchronicity:

Saturday and Sunday, March 26 and 27,  8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Ariz.

Click here for the race schedule: http://www.azdba.com/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/2011_Tempe_Race_Schedule-v2.pdf

Click here to watch a Mayo Clinic Medical Edge video on the Making Waves team:

http://mayo.img.entriq.net/htm/single-640×480-player.html?articleID=4537

Mayo Clinic corporate dragon boat team Synchronicity

Photo: Mayo Clinic corporate dragon boat team Synchronicity

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Feb 1, 2011 · MaryEllen’s Journey: Hope Returns (Final Episode)

The moment finally came.

But it was an uneasy one at first.

MaryEllen Sheppard was about to receive her last round of chemotherapy at Mayo Clinic, with friends and family by her side. But as her loved ones and her nurses cheered her on, a wave of emotion hit this mom with nerves of steel.

What will life be like after these medical appointments end?, was one of the questions MaryEllen wondered about as tears streamed down her cheeks.

In this final installment of MaryEllen’s Journey, MaryEllen shares how she was feeling during those last chemotherapy and radiation appointments and visits with Mayo again post-treatment to share what she did to get her life back on track.

We truly thank MaryEllen for giving Mayo Clinic’s video crew open access to her  life to share her story and experiences with others going through a breast cancer diagnosis. It was a privilege getting to know her and help her share her story with you all.

Missed an episode?:

Please click on the following to see MaryEllen’s journey from the beginning:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Dr Northfelt on Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center team

MaryEllen on why she enrolled in a clinical trial

 

MaryEllen reacts to genetic counseling session

Bonus: Dr Northfelt on the importance of nutrition and fitness

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Nov 24, 2010 · MaryEllen’s Journey: Searching For Genetic Clues (Episode 4)

From the moment MaryEllen Sheppard was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, she wondered how she developed cancer.

Her ancestors, she said, tended to live long, healthy lives.

And other than a cousin, she wasn’t aware of anyone else in her family who had breast cancer.

As her battle against the disease began, MaryEllen’s thoughts also turned to her sisters, nieces, daughter and granddaughter who was on the way. Could they be at risk too?

In late March, MaryEllen and her sister Eileen met with Mayo Clinic’s genetic counselor Katherine Hunt to find out if genetics could have played a role in her diagnosis and get a better idea of how at risk her female relatives are.

The following video shows excerpts from MaryEllen’s actual counseling session with Katherine Hunt.

And watch the bonus footage of MaryEllen sharing her thoughts on her genetic counseling session and the procedure she needed to insert a port for her remaining chemotherapy sessions.

Missed an episode?

Please click on the following  to see MaryEllen’s journey from the beginning:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Dr Northfelt on Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center team

MaryEllen on why she enrolled in a clinical trial

As always, please feel free to post a comment about the series or a message to MaryEllen after each episode.

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Oct 18, 2010 · MaryEllen’s Journey: Coping with a New Reality (Episode 3)

When you last saw MaryEllen Sheppard in Episode 2, she spoke about how she was beginning to lose her hair.

After two rounds of chemotherapy, MaryEllen said  she was beginning to lose clumps at a time. She knew the day was coming.  But the awkwardness of going bald wasn’t what was engulfing her. As her husband MaryEllen at chemotherapy Chuck began to shave her head as the Melissa Etheridge song “I Run For Life” was playing in the background, the loss of hair was making the cancer diagnosis hit home even harder.

“…From the very core of me came these emotions – something about all the women, the daughters, the mothers, the grandmothers that are now going through breast cancer and have to go through chemo and then have to go through the loss of hair and potentially the loss of life – it just got to me,” recalled MaryEllen. “The tears just flowed.”

In this latest installment of Mayo Clinic’s multi-part video series, MaryEllen and her sister Eileen speak about the hair loss and  how a breast cancer diagnosis impacts a family.

Below is bonus footage of MaryEllen discussing why she decided to enroll in a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.

Click here if you missed Episode 1.

As always, please feel free to post a comment about the series or leave a message for MaryEllen after each episode.

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Oct 12, 2010 · Celebrating a 5-year milestone after breast cancer diagnosis

Pansy Parker of Goodyear, Ariz., has been celebrating her cancer-free “five-year-mark” with a little partying and a lot of faith.Pansy Parker

“I just thank God so much for the five-year benchmark,” said the ebullient 73-year-old, who threw a party and invited her Mayo treatment team to celebrate her five-year survivorship.

“For patients, the five-year mark is an important landmark,” said Dr. Richard J. Gray, a surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Associate Medical Director of the Breast Clinic. “The longer you go without any evidence of cancer, the better the prognosis.”

In May 2005, a mammogram at another hospital detected a tumor in Pansy’s left breast. “I had been doing self-examinations. I don’t know how I missed it,” Pansy said. She sought a second opinion at Mayo with Dr. Donald Northfelt, an oncologist and co- Director of the Breast Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Pansy had “heard a lot of good talk” about Mayo, a reputation borne out by her subsequent experience even though, initially, the news was bad.

A tumor two inches in diameter was growing in her left breast. The exact diagnosis was infiltrating (invasive) ductal carcinoma. The cancer had spread to five lymph nodes in the left armpit.

“The unique or key thing about her cancer was that it overexpressed the HER-2 protein, that is a marker that indicates a very aggressive cancer,” Dr. Northfelt explained.

“She had a higher-risk cancer than the average patient,” Dr. Gray said. However, he added, “she’s an extraordinary woman and even facing this diagnosis and treatment, exuded faith and confidence and a positive attitude that was really remarkable.”

Dr. Gray and Pansy discussed her treatment options in mid-2005 and agreed that the tumor was too large for a lumpectomy. Chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor and then a lumpectomy, were considered. However, Pansy decided on a mastectomy. She would also undergo six weeks of radiation therapy and multiple-drug chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy included a year’s treatment with a relatively new drug, Trastuzumab, which Mayo had a hand in testing. Also known by the trade name, Herceptin, it “dramatically improves the outlook for women with this type of cancer,” Dr. Northfelt said.

Dr. Edith A. Perez of Mayo in Jacksonville, FL, had led a large nationwide study examining Herceptin. Dr. Perez “reported in 2005 that Herceptin with chemotherapy given to women like Pansy, could dramatically reduce her risk of relapse,” Dr. Northfelt said.

“At Mayo Clinic we remain constantly engaged in the search for better treatments through clinical trials,” Dr Northfelt  added.

Dr. Gray recalls how “positive she (Pansy) was through the whole process and how she really celebrated every step of her treatment and saw it as an accomplishment.”

Pansy expressed high praise for the Mayo team. “They have the best doctors. The care was right on time. I never had to sit around and wait for anything, including meals. They were right there to ask you what you needed.”

Reaching out to other women, as a presenter at seminars, has made her stronger.

“So many people have sickness, but it doesn’t take them out,” she says. “I don’t know whether or not it will return, but I have faith in God if it does return, I want to be prepared to accept it.”

Below is a video featuring Pansy Parker and her treatment at Mayo Clinic in Arizona

Pansy’s story was written by freelance writer, Jim Merritt.

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Oct 11, 2010 · MaryEllen’s Journey: Chemotherapy Begins (Episode 2)

Like many women facing breast cancer, MaryEllen Sheppard had concerns over how she would feel after her chemotherapy treatments.

Would she be able to go to work?

Would the chemotherapy leave her feeling ill and exhausted?

How long would it be until she inevitably lost her hair?

When you last saw MaryEllen in Episode 1,  she began her treatment for her triple negative breast cancer diagnosis at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

In this latest installment of Mayo’s multi-part  video series, MaryEllen will fill you in on how she felt after two rounds of chemotherapy and if the experience was what she expected.

You will also meet key members of  MaryEllen’s treatment team. Oncologist Donald Northfelt, M.D., associate medical director of the Breast Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, will share what triple negative breast cancer is and what MaryEllen is facing.  And you also will meet Nancy Ledoyen, RN, operations manager of hematology/oncology, who will explain what chemotherapy is and how it has advanced over the years.

Below is the bonus footage of Dr. Northfelt discussing what makes treatment at Mayo Clinic unique.

As always, please feel free to post a comment about the series or a message to MaryEllen after each episode.

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Oct 1, 2010 · MaryEllen’s Journey - A 5-part breast cancer video series (Episode 1)

MaryEllen Sheppard

MaryEllen Sheppard knew something was wrong as soon as she felt a thickened patch of skin on her right breast.  She didn’t feel a lump, but knew the change was different enough to get it checked out.  A mammogram and subsequent biopsy caught her by surprise.

She had breast cancer.

Looking  to share her experience with other women coping with this disease, the 53-year-old mom (and new grandmother) from Tempe, Arizona, allowed a video crew from Mayo Clinic in Arizona to follow her on her journey.

MaryEllen  let the cameras roll during her medical appointments at Mayo Clinic.  Along the way she openly chronicles what it feels like to undergo chemotherapy and describes  how the medical treatments and medications affected her daily life.  She also lets viewers inside her genetic counseling session where she sought to find out if her triple negative breast cancer was inherited and the likelihood if she could ever genetically pass the risk of cancer on to her daughter and new granddaughter.

As this five-part series unfolds, MaryEllen also reveals her views on having to make herself a priority in her family, how she dealt  with losing her hair, how she overcame her fear of  a recurrence and how she takes care of herself now.

In this first episode, you’ll meet MaryEllen at her home as she recalls her reaction to her diagnosis and the fears that came with it.

We hope you’ll follow MaryEllen’s videos  throughout October and early November on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog and we encourage you to post your comments on the series or post a message to MaryEllen after each new episode airs.

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