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5 hours ago · Breathing Easier After Getting the Right Diagnosis

Diagnosed with asthma, 12-year-old Ben Anderson was plagued with a chronic cough. For more than two years, his mother searched for an explanation for her son's troubling symptoms until she found a Mayo Clinic physician who offered concrete answers.

Diagnosed with asthma, 12-year-old Ben Anderson was plagued with a chronic cough. For more than two years, his mother searched for an explanation for her son’s troubling symptoms until she found a Mayo Clinic physician who offered concrete answers.

As a nurse and mother, Beth Anderson always felt something didn’t add up when it came to her son Ben’s asthma diagnosis. When Ben was a baby, his persistently raspy breathing and coughing led the infant’s physicians to discover a slight tracheal defect. When he was a toddler, his wheezy breathing also led his doctors to believe he had asthma.

For the most part, asthma medicine controlled Ben’s coughing. But in 2016, Ben, who is now 12, developed a cough that didn’t respond to the medicines that normally helped. When the near-continuous cough didn’t improve after a few weeks, Beth took Ben to one specialist after another near their home in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Illinois.

None of the physicians the family saw could offer a clear explanation for the persistent cough. Among the theories given were vocal cord dysfunction, pneumonia and cough-variant asthma. The family also was told the coughing could be a psychologically based habit.

“After much frustration with him still not getting better, I called the pulmonologist that he’d seen most of this life, and I said: ‘This kid is miserable. He’s missing school. His back hurts. His chest hurts. We need help,'” Beth says. “I got a message back from that doctor that said for us to just hang in there. And at that point, I was done.”

Beth started a conversation with Ben’s pediatrician about seeking care elsewhere. She was advised to reach out to Mayo Clinic.

“They are phenomenal. I can’t believe we didn’t do it two years ago,” Beth says. “I feel like we just made the best choice for him.”

At Mayo Clinic, Ben received a correct diagnosis for his condition: a chronic pulmonary disease called bronchiectasis. Moreover, Ben and his family were assured that his medical team would make sure Ben didn’t have to “just hang in there.”

Comprehensive care

When Beth called Mayo, she was offered an appointment in the Department of Pulmonology Medicine at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus with pediatric pulmonologist Nadir Demirel, M.D. The day of Ben’s appointment, the family spent more than an hour speaking with Dr. Demirel about their concerns.

“There are many other conditions that mimic asthma. When children develop episodes of coughing, they usually get the diagnosis of asthma because asthma presents similarly,” Dr. Nadir says. “One of our major tasks is to understand if these kids really have asthma or something else because a lot of them who come to us have been diagnosed with asthma or are at least started on treatment for asthma, which was the case with Ben.”

Dr. Demirel offered the family a different perspective on Ben’s medical care.

“He talked to Ben like he was a person, and I felt my son hadn’t been talked to like that before,” Beth says. “He asked him a ton of questions about his activities and interests in school. Ben felt very comfortable with him.”

Toward the end of their conversation, Dr. Demirel told the family that he wanted to conduct a few tests, but he doubted that Ben had asthma.

“We are lucky here at Mayo that we have a very sophisticated Pulmonary Function Lab to diagnose asthma and have tests that can tell us more precisely if someone has asthma or not,” Dr. Demirel says. “This was one of the tests that we did for Ben, and it was totally negative.”

“[Dr. Demirel] talked to Ben like he was a person, and I felt my son hadn’t been talked to like that before.”

Beth Anderson

The next step was determining if Ben had a structural problem in the lungs, which required a CT scan. It showed Ben had abnormal dilation of his airways, a hallmark of bronchiectasis.

“Bronchiectasis is a disease in which the airways get enlarged abnormally and lose their muscular support,” Dr. Demirel says. “The causes can be different: infection; airway clearance problems like cystic fibrosis; in small children, aspiration of formula or upper airway secretions can cause bronchiectasis. Many times in small kids, this is reversible.”

To better understand the scope of the disease, Dr. Demirel ordered a bronchoscopy of Ben’s upper and lower airways. The test did not reveal structural problems beyond widening in Ben’s airways, but it did show that his lower airways were weak. The test also showed the cartilage in his trachea was weak, a condition known as tracheomalacia.

The weakness of Ben’s respiratory structures meant that Ben’s body was unable to completely expel secretions from his airways. Unable to exit his airways, the secretions had become infected and caused inflammation. That further damaged and weakened the tissues. When Ben’s diagnosis of bronchiectasis was confirmed by the bronchoscopy, Beth says her initial reaction was frustration.

“For 2½ years, we’d been in to see so many doctors. Why did they not find this thing?” Beth says. “The best thing for kids with this is to prevent them from getting sick, and I wonder if we’d found out sooner if there’d be less damage.”

Beth’s feelings brightened after considering the supportive environment the family had encountered at Mayo Clinic. “I’m thrilled that we are going to go on the right path,” she says.

New approach

With a better understanding of the cough, Dr. Demirel prescribed Ben a new medication regimen.

“The treatment of this condition is very different than the treatment of asthma and is focused on increasing airway clearance,” Dr. Demirel says. “The whole idea is to get the secretions out.”

Nebulized medications are used to help thin the mucus, which helps patients cough up the sputum. Daily anti-inflammatory medications reduce the irritation of the airways. Medical tools such as positive expiratory pressure devices and high-frequency oscillatory chest compression therapy, also are effective at helping patients rid themselves of airway secretions.

“Because every episode will make the enlargement and the floppiness of the airways worse, our goal is to prevent these episodes from happening,” Dr. Demirel says. “In Ben’s case, the problem is mild. But we are aggressively addressing it to make sure that it won’t progress.”

Following Ben’s appointment, the family eliminated his asthma medication at Dr. Demirel’s suggestion.

“The way Mayo has their system set up is amazing.”

Beth Anderson

“They took him off all his medications and instead gave him a daily inhaler,” Beth says. “He was fine — perfectly healthy.”

Beth says as a result of the change in her son’s medication, he enjoyed a cough-free summer this year. It was a rare break from the constant cough of the previous years. “He was so happy and excited,” Beth says.

Then school started. Within a matter of days, Ben was coughing again. The action plan created for Ben when he experiences a cough flare-up involves taking several daily doses of inhaled nebulized antibiotics, nebulized saline treatments, oral antibiotics, oral steroids and inhaled steroids. After a few weeks following the action plan prescribed by Dr. Demirel, Ben slowly recovered from the coughing episode.

“The damage that is done is permanent and irreversible, so the goal is to prevent any infection. That doesn’t always work, so the goal for when it does flare up is to treat it immediately,” Beth says. “We have an action plan for him to treat it. I know that every time he gets sick, it’s not going to be over in a couple of days. I know that now, and it’s OK.”

Treatment redefined

Although Ben will have to continue to deal with his condition, the consistent support from his care team has proven to his parents that their son is in the right place.

“The way Mayo has their system set up is amazing,” Beth says. “I have my contact person — Dr. Demirel’s nurse — and she does all the communication with him. I’m a nurse, and I know what usually happens is you talk to four different nurses, and they ask different doctors, and you get different answers. At Mayo, it’s never like that.”

Beth says she hopes that her son’s story increases understanding about chronic coughing in children.

“Our goal through this process is to raise awareness for people,” Beth says. “If we can get some awareness out there or have some protocol in place, people won’t have to fight for this and will have less damage when they are diagnosed.”



5 days ago · Living to the Fullest With Advanced Ovarian Cancer

A diagnosis of stage 4 ovarian cancer sent shock waves through Michelle Messer's world. But prompt treatment and a comprehensive care plan have seen her through. Now five years after that initial diagnosis, Michelle is savoring each day.

A diagnosis of stage 4 ovarian cancer sent shock waves through Michelle Messer’s world. But prompt treatment and a comprehensive care plan have seen her through. Now five years after that initial diagnosis, Michelle is savoring each day.

They say life is made up of small moments, but just one moment can change a life forever. For Michelle Messer of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, that moment came when, at age 52, she was told she had an aggressive form of ovarian cancer — one of the deadliest cancers in women.

When the tumor was detected, Michelle’s was told it was about the size of a pineapple.

“I remember sitting there thinking, ‘Now I know why my right hip hurts — because it’s my right ovary,'” Michelle says. She also had experienced lower back pain and bloating. Suddenly all those symptoms made sense.

Michelle’s cancer was already at stage 4 when she was diagnosed by Suzette Peltier, M.D., a gynecologist at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. It had spread throughout her abdominal cavity, liver, lungs and colon.

For Michelle’s husband, Shaun, the news was devastating. “That was probably the most crushing thing I have ever felt in my life,” he says.

Then the couple had to break the news to their two adult sons and teenage daughter.

“How do you tell a 13-year-old her mother might not be here in a year or two?” Shaun says.

The couple’s daughter, Hannah, knew something was wrong when she came home from school and found her parents sitting on the couch.

“I told her I had cancer,” Michelle says. “She started crying and said, ‘No,’ and she fell to the ground. What can you do? The only thing you can do is hug them.”

No time to lose

After the initial shock subsided, the family quickly moved into action. Dr. Peltier arranged for Michelle to be seen by specialists at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus. After a series of tests, Francis Nichols, M.D., a thoracic surgeon, removed the cancer from Michelle’s lungs.

It was a fearful time, but Michelle and her medical team remained positive. Dr. Nichols told her, “We’re going for the gold, and this is the Olympics.”

“Statements like that when you are so fearful are empowering,” Michelle says.

Two weeks later, Michelle underwent a nine-hour abdominal surgery performed by Carrie Langstraat, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gynecological oncologist. Michelle’s tumor was removed, along with her gallbladder, part of her colon and dozens of lymph nodes. The procedure also included a hysterectomy.

After that, Michelle had chemotherapy every week for nearly eight months at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.

It was grueling, she says. She lost her hair and energy, but she didn’t lose her faith in the future. Michelle credits her medical team, along with many loyal friends and family who served as her support system, for helping her hold onto hope during this challenging time.

Michelle went into remission. Though with stage 4 cancer, she knew she would never really be considered cured. Her hair grew back. Then one day, a year and a half after her initial diagnosis, she felt a lump on her neck. It was a recurrence of cancer.

Fighting on

The return of the cancer meant more surgery and chemotherapy. The treatment was even harder on Michelle’s body the second time, but optimism endured for Michelle and her oncology team.

Michelle recalls one tough chemotherapy day when Sandeep Basu, M.D., her oncologist, stopped in to see her.

“I smiled and said, ‘I’m faking it till I make it,'” Michelle says. “He kind of cocked his head and said, ‘You’ve already made it.'” Michelle says Dr. Basu’s encouragement was a significant source of comfort to her.

She’s also forever thankful for the support she received from Dr. Peltier the day she learned she had cancer. Michelle recently had a chance to reconnect with Dr. Peltier and tell her how important that moment was.

“I think Mayo Clinic has all the pieces. They have the heart. They have the intelligence. They have the professionalism. They’re efficient, but they also have that warmth, that humanness about them.”

Michelle Messer

“It’s very humbling,” Dr. Peltier says. “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see somebody five years out from stage 4 ovarian cancer.”

Today, Michelle is again in remission and is living her life fully. She’s an active volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System with her pet therapy dog, Hunter. The pair visits patients and providers in Eau Claire’s Albert J. and Judith A. Dunlap Cancer Center — a place Michelle knows well.

Michelle says she is at peace with whatever lies ahead, grateful for the care team that has guided her along the way.

“I think Mayo Clinic has all the pieces,” Michelle says. “They have the heart. They have the intelligence. They have the professionalism. They’re efficient, but they also have that warmth, that humanness about them. I would highly recommend them. They saved my life.”

Learn more about Michelle’s story in this video:

Note: A version of this story previously was published in Hometown Health.



6 days ago · Surviving and Thriving After Life-Threatening Illnesses

Within the past six years, Devender Tulla developed two serious conditions that could have ended badly for the politician from India. But thanks to his Mayo Clinic care team, Devender was able to fight back. Now he's returned to work representing his constituents.

Within the past six years, Devender Tulla developed two serious conditions that could have ended badly for the politician from India. But thanks to his Mayo Clinic care team, Devender was able to fight back. Now he’s returned to work representing his constituents.

For 30 years, Devender Goud Tulla, of Hyderabad, India, easily maintained the active schedule of a career politician. Long days filled with speeches and public appearances required Devender to stay healthy by keeping a strict schedule of daily yoga, home-cooked meals and ample sleep.

But in October 2012, life as Devender knew it changed. During a political rally, he experienced an episode that looked like a stroke and sent him to the emergency department. It also set the wheels in motion for a journey to Mayo Clinic that spanned two oceans and several continents. At Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, Devender received care for life-threatening conditions not once, but twice.

In November 2012, physicians at Mayo Clinic treated Devender for a rare condition known as autoimmune encephalitis. Five years later, in early 2017, Devender returned to Mayo to receive treatment for an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Because of Mayo Clinic and the love and affection of people there, I am here,” Devender says. “I’m really thankful to Mayo Clinic and its people. They do a great service to humankind.”

Today, Devender is back to work representing the people in his political district, and he has written an autobiography titled My Journey.

Sudden symptoms

Devender’s health problems surfaced while he was at political event attended by 2,000 people. Suddenly dizzy and confused, he was unable to speak.

“He wasn’t coherent to the people around him,” says Devender’s son, Vinayender Tulla, who was called immediately. A medical doctor, Vinayender suspected his father was experiencing a stroke and directed that he be taken to a hospital. There Devender received an MRI. It revealed Devender hadn’t had a stroke after all.

“He had some kind of lesion on his cerebellum,” Vinayender says. “That was shocking for us because right up until then, he was absolutely fine.”

Complicating matters, Devender was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis at the time. His physicians were unable to pinpoint whether his symptoms were related to the tuberculosis treatment. However, to lessen the tissue inflammation surrounding the brain lesion, Devender’s medical team recommended he begin taking corticosteroids.

“There was a lot of confusion, and no one could really pinpoint the diagnosis,” Vinayender says. “Then one of our doctor’s here in India said that, since we were unable to diagnosis him here properly, we should go to Mayo Clinic.”

Disconcerting diagnosis

The family took that advice. At Mayo Clinic, Santhi Swaroop Vege, M.D. — who knows one of Devender’s doctors in India — did an initial evaluation. Dr. Vege then assembled a team of specialists from the Department of Neurology and Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, among others, to hone in on Devender’s illness.

Allen Aksamit Jr., M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist, recommended Devender be weaned off the steroids, and the team would monitor how his brain responded. That would help inform his medical team about his diagnosis. In the meantime, he was able to return home.

Back in India, Devender had another MRI in January 2013. “The inflammation actually came back,” Vinayender says. “So we contacted Dr. Aksamit and told him that the disease had come back.”

The family learned that the only way to confirm the nature of the lesion at that point was through a biopsy of the brain tissue. In April, Devender and Vinayender flew back to Mayo Clinic for the brain biopsy.

“He started the drug, and he started getting back to his life. 2014, 2015 and 2016 were good.”

Vinayender Tulla

Neurosurgeon Fredric Meyer, M.D., joined Devender’s team to perform the biopsy. Done via stereotactic radiosurgery, the procedure involved making a small incision in the left part of Devender’s cerebellum and removing a tissue sample. An evaluation of the tissue revealed the reason for Devender’s lesion: autoimmune encephalitis. The condition occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain tissue.

With a definitive diagnosis, Devender began treatment. In late 2013, he started receiving daily immunosuppression therapy to prevent his body’s immune system from attacking his brain.

“He started the drug, and he started getting back to his life,” Vinayender says, noting that “2014, 2015 and 2016 were good.”

Additional issues

Devender returned to politics and resumed his usual activities. But near the end of 2016, he began experiencing a stuffy nose. He treated his symptoms, but by January 2017, he still couldn’t breathe properly through his nose. Devender sought medical care from an otorhinolaryngologist, or ENT physician, who ordered a CT scan and an MRI. The imaging revealed that Devender had a mass in his nasal cavity that extended into the sinus cavities on either side of his nose.

“It was a huge mass, and we understood that we needed to do a biopsy of it,” Vinayender says. “[The physician] suspected it to be some sort of fungal mass or nonmalignant mass. He removed the whole tumor mass and sent it for biopsy.”

The biopsy revealed Devender had diffuse large B-cell lymphoma — a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma where there’s a defect in the formation of antibody-producing B-cells.

The new development in his father’s health prompted Vinayender to call Dr. Vege.

“We told him that there was a new diagnosis, and he asked us whether we would like to be looked at by Mayo Clinic,” Vinayender says. “We didn’t think twice about it.”

Aggressive action

Back at Mayo Clinic, Devender again met with Dr. Vege, who had recruited Mayo Clinic hematologist Stephen Ansell M.D., Ph.D., to Devender’s medical team.

“Patients with autoimmune diseases have an ongoing inflammatory process, and when the process persistently activates the immune system, they can develop other issues related to lymphocytes,” Dr. Ansell says. “In this case, it was lymphoma.”

To treat the lymphoma, which had spread into nasal bone, to surrounding lymph nodes and to the testicular area, Devender was scheduled to receive six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy.

“Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan,” Vinayender says.

The first few days of chemotherapy, Devender seemed fine. But on the sixth day, he developed a cough with sputum. That evening, he developed a fever that rose to 103 degrees around 2 a.m. Vinayender called the care team and was directed to bring his father to Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester. In the Department of Emergency Medicine, Devender’s blood was drawn, and his chest was X-rayed. His medical team started giving him intravenous antibiotics.

“His oxygen saturation began to fall. His vitals started to fall. His pulse increased, and his blood pressure started falling,” Vinayender says. 

Extreme effects

Devender was transferred to an intensive care unit to be cared for by critical care specialists.

“He started to deteriorate really quickly, and they had to ventilate him quickly,” Vinayender days. “His blood pressure fell, and they had to take corrective measures. At one point, we were really scared because his lactic acid was shooting up.”

Results of blood tests showed Devender had developed numerous infections as a result of the chemotherapy weakening his immune system. On March 18, Devender’s fourth day in the ICU, he became even more ill. His blood counts, especially his white blood cell count, were extremely low. The infections gripping Devender’s body showed no sign of loosening.

“I was very scared. As a doctor, I knew what was happening, and it was very difficult for me to tell the same things to my brothers and mother,” Vinayender says. “It was very emotionally draining because I could see that we may actually lose him because of his counts and the infection.”

Making the rapid decline in Devender’s health even more emotional, it was the day before his birthday. And in India, when it’s the birthday of a public figure like Devender, a community of revelers gathers to celebrate the occasion.

“He’s remembered well on his birthday. But here he was in the ICU, and so a lot of people were panicking and wondering what was happening,” Vinayender says. “Things were very gloomy, and Dr. Vege came in and talked to me for a few minutes and encouraged me to have hope.”

On Devender’s birthday, the family received a special gift. His body began to fight back. His blood counts increased and signs of infection diminished. Over the next two days, Devender’s team weaned him from the ventilator.

Personalized medicine

When Devender finally opened his eyes and gave a thumbs-up, his team threw him a small birthday celebration. “It was because of the people’s love and affection that I could recover,” Devender says.

After several additional days in the ICU, where he became more alert and active, he was transferred to a regular hospital room. Devender regained his strength, and three days later he was discharged.

After that, it was decided Devender should wait two weeks before beginning the second cycle of chemotherapy. He received that chemotherapy without incident, and he remained stable for the next six days. The seventh day, however, brought another fever and another hospitalization.

“It was because of the people’s love and affection that I could recover.”

Devender Goud Tulla

“But this time, it was not so serious,” Vinayender says. “He did not go to the ICU. The antibiotics were given, and the very next day, the fever subsided.”

Devender was given the option to return to India for the rest of his treatments. But he and his son decided it would be best to receive the third round in Minnesota, in case there were complications. That round of medicine caused a slight fever but no other effects.

“That’s when we knew he was responding to the chemotherapy, and for the next cycle we went home,” Vinayender says.

Ideal outcome

Back in Hyderabad, Devender completed the remaining three rounds of chemotherapy. Shortly after, he began receiving radiation therapy. When that had concluded, Devender underwent a PET scan to check for any lingering cancer. That test came back negative. Six months later, a follow-up PET scan also came back negative.

Devender Goud Tulla and Santhi Swaroop Vege, M.D.

Devender will continue to be observed and undergo regular scans to check for a cancer. But at this point, the disease is in remission.

“At Mayo Clinic, we have an integrated care process,” Dr. Ansell says. “The fact that the pathologist, radiologist, radiation oncologist and hematologist are all in close proximity and work together well, along with good integration from Dr. Vege, who facilitates the care, really helped the patient get the best treatment.”

If not for the support of Dr. Vege, his father likely would have had a very different outcome, Vinayender says.

“Dr. Vege has been the fulcrum for us. He introduced us to Mayo Clinic and has been not only a doctor, he’s become a good friend to my father,” Vinayender says. “Without him, I’m sure we would not have had the experience we had.”



Fri, Oct 12 8:41am · New Perspective on Heart Condition Has Soccer Player Back on the Field

When myocarditis hit his heart, Drew Beckie was told his professional soccer career was over. But a cardiac specialist at Mayo Clinic took another look, and today Drew is back to the game he loves.

When myocarditis hit his heart, Drew Beckie was told his professional soccer career was over. But a cardiac specialist at Mayo Clinic took another look, and today Drew is back to the game he loves. 

Professional soccer player Drew Beckie was visiting a friend in Stockholm, Sweden, in December 2017 when he began feeling ill.

“I landed on Tuesday, and by Saturday, I was feeling so bad that I didn’t feel like doing anything,” Drew says. “I had flu-like symptoms, bad stomach pain, night sweats.”

Drew thought he likely picked up a bug on his flight, but by Sunday, things seemed to be turning around. The 27-year-old Canadian native recalls feeling “really fantastic, actually — ready to go out.” But it didn’t last. After breakfast that morning, Drew was hit hard with pain.

“The pain was so intense. It started in my back and then moved to my chest,” he says. “My arms went numb. My jaw went numb. I knew something was really wrong.”

Drew was taken to a local hospital, where doctors found his troponin levels were significantly elevated. Troponin is protein that’s released from inside cardiac muscles cells when they die, often because of a blocked artery.

Although it felt like he was having a heart attack, Drew learned he had fulminant myocarditis. The disorder often is the result of a viral infection that triggers inflammation of the heart muscle. Treatment runs the gamut from bedrest to corticosteroids or immunosuppressant medications. Some patients require a heart transplant.

Drew was lucky. Doctors in Sweden told him he didn’t need anything other than six to eight months of rest and no strenuous activity. But then they gave him a warning.

“The doctors said if I were to exercise, I had a high chance of sudden death,” Drew says. “They said there was a strong likelihood that I wouldn’t be able to play again.”

That sent Drew on a quest for a second opinion at Mayo Clinic. There he met Leslie Cooper, M.D., chair of Mayo’s Department of Cardiology and co-founder of the Myocarditis Foundation. Dr. Cooper put Drew on a path to recovery that led him back to the game he loves so much.

A different view

There are several types of myocarditis, which affects about 3 million people globally. The disorder usually develops in otherwise healthy individuals, and men are more likely to get myocarditis than women. Younger men and athletes are affected in greater numbers than other groups.

“When they told me I had this, I’d never heard of anything like it,” Drew says. “They explained there were different kinds of myocarditis, and with this one, I should easily recover.”

But when he was told his professional soccer days might be over, Drew knew he needed another expert to weigh in on his condition. Though he was signed to a Finnish club, Drew headed to Jacksonville, Florida. Because he had previously spent time playing for the Jacksonville Armada, Drew was familiar with Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

“I wanted the best opinion on how to recover from the diagnosis I had received,” he says.

In early 2018, Drew scheduled an appointment with Dr. Cooper, who has dedicated his career to the research and study of myocarditis.

“I wanted the best opinion on how to recover from the diagnosis I had received.”

Drew Beckie

“There are many causes of myocarditis, including viral infections, autoimmune diseases and adverse reactions to medications,” Dr. Cooper says. “The prognosis is variable, but chronic heart failure is the major long-term complication.”

Unlike the doctors who evaluated Drew initially, after he assessed Drew, Dr. Cooper felt there was potential for him to return to soccer.

“Technically, there is no treatment for the type of illness Drew had. In part, it was a virus that needed to run its course,” Dr. Cooper says. While about 10 percent of people who develop myocarditis with chest pain syndrome have recurrence of chest pain the first year, Dr. Cooper didn’t think Drew was at risk. “He had almost normal heart pump function at that time.”

A remarkable return

When Dr. Cooper also told him he might eventually be able to return to play, Drew was ecstatic.

“I remember it was Good Friday. I grew up Catholic, and that was a big significance to me,” Drew says. “It was really cool to get that news then.”

Dr. Cooper gave Drew the green light to begin training again.

“It’s amazing how the body recovers.”

Drew Beckie

“It was very humbling to meet with him as the top expert on this disease. I was impressed by the amount of time he spent with me,” Drew says. “He really gave me the confidence to get back on the treadmill and push my fitness, so I wouldn’t lose my skills.”

Drew’s former coach with the Jacksonville Armada offered him a limited contract to help Drew regain his fitness. In May 2018, Drew played his first game since the diagnosis as a member of that team. Then he signed a new deal with the Oklahoma City Energy in June.

Today, Drew says he’s feeling almost better than before his diagnosis. He now trains and plays anywhere from three to five hours a day, in addition to games on weekends.

“I love the game, and I want to play into my early 30s,” he says. “It’s amazing how the body recovers.”



Thu, Oct 11 9:02am · Winning Against All Odds

Andy Steinfeldt discovered his love of running late in life. When a series of medical conditions and complications threatened his newfound hobby, he refused to accept a future where he wasn't able to compete.

Andy Steinfeldt discovered his love of running late in life. When a series of medical conditions and complications threatened his newfound hobby, he refused to accept a future where he wasn’t able to compete.

As a high schooler, Andy Steinfeldt wasn’t an athlete. He never won a ribbon or medal for anything fitness related. But now, in his 70s, the Minnetonka, Minnesota, resident is raking in the athletic awards.

Over the past two years, Andy has placed in a multitude of marathons, basketball, track and field, and strength events at the Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota Senior Games. He routinely practices mind-boggling feats — such as performing numerous handstand push-ups and sustaining a 35-minute plank position — as part of motivational presentations he offers. 

Andy’s enthusiasm and athletic prowess was born out of a desire to rise up against a series of life-limiting health conditions. He’s been supported in his efforts by a team of Mayo Clinic clinicians who have fostered his healing and rehabilitation, including Jonathan Finnoff, D.O., a sports medicine specialist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“I think there were a number of different factors that went into his success,” Dr. Finnoff says. “One is that he did have a remarkable physical recovery, where his body overcame the obstacles and healed well. But he also had the fortitude and the psychological profile to be able to overcome adversity and be dedicated to his goals. I think that had a huge amount to do with it.”

First steps

Andy’s foray into running began in 2011. A retired businessman, he was 63 years old when his son Loren asked him to run a 5K race with him. Andy agreed.

“It was a struggle, as I hadn’t run since gym class in high school,” Andy says. “I stopped several times but got through it and got a little hooked in the process. I kept it up and gradually increased my distance.”

That race sparked Andy’s desire to push himself farther. Three years later, in 2014, he ran his first half-marathon. Later that same year, he tried his first full marathon. But that race didn’t go well. As he ran, the lower part of Andy’s right leg went partially numb, and he was forced to drop out.

Andy sought attention from medical specialists in the Twin Cities area, but he was initially misdiagnosed. When he finally received the correct diagnosis in early 2015, it was determined that a blood clot had occluded, or blocked, two of his arteries. He would need surgery to remove the blockage.

“Dr. Froehling and the wound care specialists in his department knew just what to do.”

Andy Steinfeldt

During that procedure, one of Andy’s arteries was perforated. His leg filled with blood, and in an effort to save his leg, his surgeons performed a procedure known as a fasciotomy, which entailed cutting through the muscles on both sides of Andy’s lower leg. The remedy to mitigate the bleeding sidelined Andy. Not only were his leg tissues damaged, but just one artery remained intact. Andy was told by more than one physician that because his circulation was so severely compromised, his running days were over.

Rather than curtailing his athletic endeavors, the episode powered Andy’s quest for healing. That search motivated him to reach out to Mayo Clinic: first for wound healing and then for training advice.

One of his first interactions at Mayo was with David Froehling, M.D., in the Vascular Center.

“His leg was starting to get better, but it was slow to heal. One of the things I was able to do for him that made him feel better was send him to the Wound Care Center,” Dr. Froehling says. “It was a simple thing, but it really helped him in getting his wound to heal more quickly.”

Receiving that wound care was a “godsend,” Andy says.

“Dr. Froehling and the wound care specialists in his department knew just what to do,” he says. “I had this wound that wasn’t healing for six months. After I started going in, it was six weeks before it was completely healed.”

A rocky road

Andy’s leg injury was just the latest in a series of medical issues he has faced. In 2014, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which was removed robotically through six incisions in his abdomen. Shortly after the surgery, Andy went into kidney failure and was sent back to the operating room. His abdominal incisions were reopened, and the problem causing his kidney failure was corrected.

“All together, I had 14 separate openings of my abdomen over a period of two years,” Andy says. In addition to his prostate surgery, he had abdominal surgery to correct a hernia and another surgery to remove his appendix.

“Each abdominal opening weakens the abdomen and lessens one’s ability to perform exercises that require abdominal strength,” Andy says. “But I gradually built up my abdominal strength to be far greater than it was prior to all the surgeries.”

In addition to surgical treatment of Andy’s prostate cancer, he also received radiation therapy. Neither the abdominal operations nor the radiation slowed him down.

“A lot of people when they get radiation therapy, they get knocked out and depressed. I decided I would step up my game rather than lie low,” Andy says, explaining that he continued training for long-distance running even during his radiation treatments.

But prostate cancer, the blood clot and the surgical complications weren’t the end of Andy’s health concerns. In 2016, he began experiencing intense pain in his lower neck and shoulders. Andy had developed a rare neurological condition called Parsonage-Turner syndrome. A painful disorder believed to be caused by an abnormality in the immune system, Parsonage-Turner syndrome affects the nerves leading from the neck to the shoulders and arms.

“We have no idea why it happens,” Dr. Finnoff says. “It can affect all the nerves, one nerve, sensory nerves or motor nerves, so it’s a mixed bag. But it hurts a lot. You get a lot of weakness. And depending on which nerve is affected and the severity, there will be variable amounts of recovery.”

In Andy’s case, not only had the illness caused inflammation, pain and weakness in his neck and left shoulder, but it also contributed to Andy’s left rotator cuff tearing.

Andy underwent physical therapy to ease the pain and weakness in his neck and shoulder. Dr. Finnoff and Andy also developed a long-term program for gradual rehabilitation. After six weeks of physical therapy, Andy reported significant improvement.

Amazing outcome

With his leg issues resolved and his shoulder pain under control, Andy resumed his exercise routine. Lifting light weights, using cross-training equipment, and practicing push-ups, sit-ups and burpees were among the activities Andy engaged in as part of his fitness regime. Despite being told he wouldn’t run again, Andy started jogging.

“I’ve got this thing where when somebody says, ‘You can’t do it,’ then I say, ‘Yes, I can’ and try all the harder,” Andy says. He set a goal to complete the marathon he had to quit two years earlier.

To help him better prepare for the 26-mile run, Andy sought advice from Dr. Finnoff, who recommended he work with a physical therapist to develop a training program that would safely prepare him for the endurance event.

“This is a super-motivated individual who loves higher intensity exercise and loves doing things that people think are impossible,” Dr. Finnoff says. “He likes to demonstrate how he can overcome adversity, and not just beat but crush people’s expectation of what somebody his age and condition can do.”

“[Andy] likes to demonstrate how he can overcome adversity, and not just beat but crush people’s expectation of what somebody his age and condition can do.”

Jonathan Finnoff, D.O.

Andy’s ability to push through health problems was put to use earlier this year when prostate cancer was again detected. In August, he began a 38-day course of radiation treatments — a therapy schedule that coincided with training for this year’s senior games. Despite his cancer treatment, Andy still participated in the games and earned multiple medals in numerous events.

From Dr. Finnoff’s standpoint, Andy’s fitness level, given his medical hurdles, is remarkable.

“That someone would return to this condition after a totally occluded artery is extremely rare,” Dr. Finnoff says. “It’s sort of one in a billion. I don’t know who else could have done that.”

In Andy’s mind, staying happy and active is key to his success. In addition to athletic pursuits, Andy can sing in five languages, has performed professionally and has 35 musical recordings.

“I know it is easy to feel sorry for yourself and get depressed and get this ‘why me’ kind of attitude about things,” he says. “So what I am doing is just facing this with as happy as a face as I can and doing training, competing and singing. They all make me happy, and I’m going to have as much of that as I can.”



Mon, Oct 8 4:47pm · Making Mayo Clinic Welcoming to All

Through an array of programs and initiatives, Mayo Clinic is developing a richly diverse workforce that reflects the different experiences and backgrounds of its patients.

Through an array of programs and initiatives, Mayo Clinic is developing a richly diverse workforce that reflects the different experiences and backgrounds of its patients.

Susan Miller always knew she wanted something more. More than her eighth grade education. More than working in a bakery and sewing quilts. More than the days that stretched out ahead, each one the same as the day before. So Miller made a decision. She would leave her family and her tiny Amish community.

Miller knew if she told her parents her plans, they would do whatever they could to make her stay. So one evening, she snuck away. She was just 17. She had no money, no Social Security card, no idea how to use a computer. But she had something stirring inside of her. “Ever since I was a little girl, I thought it would be so nice to be a nurse,” she says.

Five years later, Miller is a patient care assistant at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, and she’s on her way to becoming a licensed practical nurse. She hopes to eventually become a registered nurse and work in an emergency department. “I want to work where I won’t know what will happen each day but will know that I have the skills to handle it,” Miller says.

Miller’s path to Mayo Clinic was not an easy one to travel. She doubts she would have made it at all without the help of Bridges to Healthcare, a collaborative program between Mayo Clinic and community education partners in Rochester, Minnesota. The program helps participants — many of them people of color or first-generation college students like Miller — overcome barriers to employment by providing academic support, help with job applications and other assistance.

“I go to every single Bridges graduation,” says Guy Finne, director of Workforce Development in Human Resources at Mayo Clinic. “There’s always a class speaker. They tell their stories, share the trials and tribulations they’ve had, the barriers they’ve faced. I’ve heard from refugees who have had soldiers doing harm to their families right in front of them.”

And Finne has heard from people like Miller, who have made bold choices. “Talk about commitment,” he says. “That’s the kind of employee we want at Mayo Clinic.”

Finne, who serves as Mayo’s liaison to the program, says the partnership is one example of the institution’s increasingly “intentional and deliberate” efforts to develop a diverse workforce — one that better reflects the vastly different experiences of patients who come to Mayo Clinic for care.

“Diversity is not something that’s disconnected from our core mission and primary value,” says Leon Clark, chair of Mayo Clinic’s Department of Research Administration. “If we strive to provide the best care to every patient, every day, that literally means every patient that enters our doors. Delivering on our promise to patients requires understanding and cultural competency.”

Clark says that understanding comes by way of training, education and having a diverse workforce that represents Mayo’s patient base now and into the future.

A case for diversity and inclusion

Diversity recruitment and retention efforts are about more than doing the right thing says Lor Lee, director of Diversity and Inclusion at Mayo Clinic.

“This isn’t just a nice thing to do. There’s a business imperative for this work,” Lor Lee says. “Demographics are changing. By 2050, half of the U.S. will be nonwhite. We already know there’s a shortage of health care staff. If we can’t recruit a diverse workforce and retain our talented staff, we’ll have millions of dollars walking out the door.”

Today, 26 percent of Mayo’s physician and scientist staff, and 14 percent of allied health staff are people of color, compared with 25 percent of the U.S. population. In 2017, among Mayo’s allied health staff who left the organization within the first year of employment, people of color voluntarily left Mayo 10 percent more than their white peers.

The reason these staff members most often cite for leaving? “They felt their work team itself did not welcome them,” Finne says. Similarly, a 2015 survey revealed that 33 percent of Mayo Clinic staff does not feel that they can bring their whole selves to work.

“Having ‘every brain in the game’ provides us with the richness of perspective and experiences that can give Mayo Clinic a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Barbara Jordan

“Our staff must be made to feel that their opinions matter and are welcome,” Clark says. “Inclusion and engagement requires intentional effort to go out of one’s way to invite colleagues to participate in something or share thoughts and ideas.”

Mayo also has room to grow in its leadership ranks to reflect a diverse community. Among the top leadership roles at Mayo Clinic, there is a large gap in representation of women and people of color compared to what is represented in the communities the organization serves.

Barbara Jordan, administrator for the Office for Diversity in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, says gaps like these mean Mayo Clinic is missing out on valuable additions to the team.

“Having ‘every brain in the game’ provides us with the richness of perspective and experiences that can give Mayo Clinic a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” she says. “Diversity and inclusion are assets to our institution.”

Where Mayo Clinic is headed

Mayo’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion has established six goals to guide the organization in developing those assets:

  • Provide high-quality, culturally appropriate care in a welcoming environment to all patients.
  • Increase the diversity of Mayo Clinic patients.
  • Improve inclusiveness and participation of diverse staff at all levels of the organization.
  • Increase the proportion of women and minority students, faculty, administrators and staff where underrepresented.
  • Increase the proportion of women and minorities in senior leadership.
  • Identify and eliminate health disparities, and become a national leader in the science and promotion of health equity.

In addition to those broad goals, Mayo Clinic also has established these four areas of focus to improve workforce diversity and inclusion:

  • Increase the diversity of Mayo’s workforce, specifically among top leaders across the organization.
  • Improve the retention of staff so there is no difference across any demographic group.
  • Improve the culture of inclusion by creating tools and resources that all Mayo staff can use in their daily work.
  • Increase the diversity of the future pipeline of health care workers.

Getting there

A number of efforts are in place to help achieve those goals. Bridges to Healthcare has helped Mayo Clinic recruit more than 150 allied health staff. Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science is attracting and recruiting diverse students in part through several programs targeting high-achieving, underrepresented students.

The William Worrall Mayo Scholars Program provides a campus visit and connects Mayo Clinic mentors to diverse college students whose Medical College Admission Test scores are in the 90th percentile. The Wilson Scholars Program offers similar support to promising medical students from diverse backgrounds. Around a quarter of participants from each program choose to come to Mayo Clinic for education or training, creating a valuable pipeline for future staff.

Project Search provides another staffing pipeline. The work-based educational program helps young adults with cognitive disabilities gain the skills needed to enter the workforce.

In 2016, Josh Lee, an operations supervisor for Mayo Medical Laboratories, volunteered to host a Project Search student for a short-term internship. But when two program graduates applied for permanent positions he was looking to fill, he says he was hesitant to interview them.

“I’d said yes to hosting an intern because it was just a 10-week rotation,” Josh Lee says. Initially, he agreed to the interviews “to appease HR.” But a conversation with Dawn Kirchner, a diversity recruitment specialist, changed his mindset. The candidates could do the job, Kirchner assured him.

“One hundred percent of my reservation about hiring Project Search participants was my own fear. Everybody deserves an opportunity.”

Josh Lee

“Then she told me, ‘Don’t set limitations,'” he says. “At that moment, I realized I was standing in the way of a life-changing opportunity. I was going to be a roadblock.”

Instead, Josh Lee opened a door by hiring Alex Steffl and Vaughn Chamberlain. He has since hired a third Project Search graduate, Tanner Petersen.

“Now I can’t imagine a day without them,” he says. “They’re amazing individuals, and they do amazing work. Alex has qualified for every job in our area.”

Josh Lee says the experience has made him a better, more creative manager — and a better, more compassionate human being.

“Before this, I’d had minimal contact with people with disabilities,” he says. “One hundred percent of my reservation about hiring Project Search participants was my own fear. Everybody deserves an opportunity.”

Reaching out, looking in

As Josh Lee discovered, the biggest barriers to inclusivity are often those that exist in people’s minds. That’s why Mayo offers unconscious bias training, as well as education around culture, diversity and inclusion. In addition, monthly “Conversations on Employee Experiences” give small groups of staff the opportunity to provide feedback to leaders around the topics of race, religion and other aspects of diversity.

Mayo Clinic also is working to ensure each department has a diversity leader tasked with communicating Mayo’s policies and driving their work area’s efforts.

“This work is about more than setting goals and creating policies,” Lor Lee says. “We also need leaders to uphold them. This is about organizational change.”

“We only know what we’ve experienced, and when we expose ourselves to all different kinds of folks with different values, it opens the door to new understanding that is pretty powerful. It really opens your eyes.”

Guy Finne

Mayo Employee Resource Groups, or MERGs, offer another way to broaden perspectives. The staff-organized groups are formed around common aspects of diversity, from traditional dimensions such as ethnicity, age or gender to groups such as veterans, single and working parents, or people with disabilities. A variety of groups has formed on each Mayo Clinic campus, and the groups are open to all staff. Guy Finne has experienced their value firsthand.

“What has impacted me more than anything is to sit with someone who does not look like me, talk like me or think like me, and to share stories,” he says. “We only know what we’ve experienced, and when we expose ourselves to all different kinds of folks with different values, it opens the door to new understanding that is pretty powerful. It really opens your eyes.”



Fri, Oct 5 9:38am · Crafting An Artist's Healthy Future

Lupus was wreaking havoc on Emily Olson's health. Her Mayo Clinic care team's decision to employ a medication typically not used for this autoimmune disorder, along with a kidney transplant, not only saved Emily's life, it reignited her independence and confidence.

Lupus was wreaking havoc on Emily Olson’s health. Her Mayo Clinic care team’s decision to employ a medication typically not used for this autoimmune disorder, along with a kidney transplant, not only saved Emily’s life, it reignited her independence and confidence.

Emily Olson has always loved drawing, and she wanted to make a living with her art. At 19, she decided to pursue that goal by becoming a tattoo artist. Just six months after she began working at a tattoo shop, however, Emily’s hopes for her future appeared to be in jeopardy. Diagnosed four years earlier with lupus, her symptoms began to get progressively worse.

That decline was the beginning of a series of complications that that led Emily to Mayo Clinic. Her care team at Mayo guided her through treatment, including a kidney transplant, that allowed Emily to move forward in her life and her career.

“I recommend Mayo to anyone who has a serious health issue,” Emily says. “I feel like if I had gone anywhere else, things would not have turned out as well as they did.”

A deteriorating condition

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s tissues and organs. Over the years, Emily tried to live with the joint pain, rashes and fatigue that result from the inflammation lupus causes. But one night in January 2017, she was so out of breath trying to go up the stairs in her home in Osceola, Wisconsin, that her mother drove her to the local emergency department. She was diagnosed with pneumonia.

“I didn’t think that was right, so the next morning my mom and I drove two-and-a-half hours to the ER at Mayo Clinic in Rochester,” Emily recalls.

Emily’s instincts were right. There was much more going on than pneumonia. Tests showed her potassium level to be extremely high, and lab work revealed that her red blood cells and platelets were being destroyed. She was diagnosed with lupus nephritis — an inflammation of the kidneys caused by lupus. Emily was sent to the intensive care unit, where she was seen by Mayo Clinic rheumatology fellow Ali Duarte-Garcia, M.D.

“I lost my vision for three or four days. That was the peak of everything bad happening.”

Emily Olson

“We did several plasma exchanges with donor plasma to try to stop her kidney damage, but she wasn’t turning around,” Dr. Duarte-Garcia says. “She had a rare complication of lupus called thrombotic microangiopathy. After several tests, we found a group of proteins, called complement, were abnormal. This group of 30 proteins is critically important in the body’s defense against infection.”

It got worse. Several days later, Emily’s blood pressure was very high, and when she woke up, she had lost her vision.

“I lost my vision for three or four days. That was the peak of everything bad happening,” Emily says. “As a tattoo artist, it would have been horrible if I lost my vision.”

An MRI showed the vision loss was caused by swelling in Emily’s brain due to the excessive water weight gain from kidney failure. Doctors put her on dialysis, which pulled three liters of water from her body a day.

“I felt so much better after starting dialysis, and my vision was coming back,” Emily says.

A unique approach

Dr. Duarte-Garcia consulted with a multidisciplinary team of Mayo Clinic nephrologists, hematologists and rheumatologists — including Ladan Zand, M.D., Meera Sridharan, M.D., Ph.D., and Vaidehi Chowdhary, M.D. — to determine the best treatment for Emily. They decided to try a medication that’s normally used for another complement protein disorder called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, or aHUS.

“Patients with aHUS also have these abnormal proteins. So we felt the medication might be effective for the rare complication of lupus Ms. Olson had, which involved the same abnormal proteins,” Dr. Duarte-Garcia says. “Almost immediately, her platelets started to go up and her anemia stabilized.”

“Dr. Duarte-Garcia is smart and determined,” Emily says. “He was the one that pushed for the infusion that saved my life. I’m really grateful for that.”

After 30 days, Emily was discharged from the hospital. She continued dialysis three days a week for three hours a day, all while working 30 hours a week creating tattoos. But after six months, her kidneys had not improved.

She was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. Emily needed a kidney transplant. “I had mixed emotions because I’d hoped my kidneys would start working again,” Emily says.

Working in her favor was the fact that, after six months of medication, Emily’s lupus was in remission. She was put on the transplant list in February 2018.

A dramatic improvement

Initially, Emily’s hope was that she wouldn’t have to wait years, as some people do, for a kidney to become available. But she didn’t have to worry. On April 18, just two months after being placed on the transplant list, Emily got a call that a donor kidney was available.

“They called me at 10 a.m., and I drove straight to Rochester,” Emily says. “I didn’t want to get too excited until they said everything was good to go. There was a huge possibility that it may not work, so I was nervous.”

Emily underwent transplant surgery the next morning. Doctors told her it could take up to a week for the kidney to start working. “It started working right away,” Emily says. “That was a huge relief.”

“Everyone was super nice and really tried to figure out what was wrong with me. You can tell that they really care about their patients.”

Emily Olson

Discharged from the hospital two days later, she rented a house in Rochester for three weeks while she was recovering. “It was a super easy recovery,” Emily says. “I feel really good.”

Not only has her health improved dramatically since the transplant and her lupus treatment, Emily’s work life has taken off, too. Today, she owns her own tattoo studio where she custom draws all of the tattoos.

Looking back on her experience at Mayo Clinic, Emily says she’s extremely grateful to Dr. Duarte-Garcia and the entire medical staff at Mayo for the care she received, which resulted in a complete turnaround.

“Everyone was super nice and really tried to figure out what was wrong with me,” Emily says. “You can tell that they really care about their patients.”



Wed, Oct 3 7:00am · Teamwork and Motivation Spur Recovery from Brachial Plexus Injury

A motor vehicle accident left Jennifer Tetler without the use of her left arm. But the comprehensive treatment plan developed by her Mayo Clinic care team, along with Jennifer's drive to recover as fully as possible, led to an excellent outcome.

A motor vehicle accident left Jennifer Tetler without the use of her left arm. But the comprehensive treatment plan developed by her Mayo Clinic care team, along with Jennifer’s drive to recover as fully as possible, led to an excellent outcome.

Jennifer Tetler tried to react, tried to get out of the way. “I had a Vespa, a beautiful 250cc Vespa, and I was driving that to meet my sister one night for dinner. A car coming the other way turned left, right into me,” she says. “I tried to put on the brakes and swerve, but I ended up coming off of my scooter and hitting my shoulder.”

Jennifer didn’t just hurt her shoulder, however. The impact damaged the complex group of brachial plexus nerves that power her arm. The injury paralyzed her left arm from her shoulder to her wrist.

After the accident, Jennifer went to Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus where she came under the care of plastic surgeon Shelley Noland, M.D., neurosurgeon Pelagia Kouloumberis, M.D., physical therapist Julie Pohlad, and occupational therapist Cecelia Skotak.

“When Jen came to see us, she had paralysis of her shoulder and her elbow. This, of course, affected her life in many ways,” Dr. Noland says. “It made the things she enjoyed doing before the injury very difficult.”

Jennifer’s care team in Mayo’s multidisciplinary Peripheral Nerve Clinic began trying to reverse the damage by working together on an individualized surgical plan. She had four separate nerve transfers to restore life to paralyzed muscles in her shoulder and elbow.

After those procedures, Jennifer dove into her rehabilitation with gusto, highly motivated to return to her active lifestyle. That enthusiastic participation made a world of difference, according to Dr. Noland.

“She’s done extremely well,” Dr. Noland says. “She took a big role in her rehabilitation and her recovery. She really participated to the fullest, and we think that’s why she’s had such an excellent outcome.”

Jennifer is quick to add that she couldn’t have done any of it alone.

“I always felt encouraged by Shelley, Julie and Cece during my rehab and recovery,” she says. “I’m so thankful to them for helping me make hard decisions and for always supporting me whenever I’d come in for checkups. Their literal ‘oohs and aahs’ to my continued progress kept me inspired to keeping working hard on my own, and still does today.”

Learn more about Jennifer’s story in this video:



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