A Bite of Life…



When I think about my family’s history with the Mayo Clinic, I immediately think of the kitchen ceiling in my childhood home, where a pale orange circle about the size of a basketball is forever stained into the plaster. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice it’s there, but we do. It has a story, of course. Not an entirely cheery one, but we have a family philosophy that if it makes for a good story… you really can’t complain.

My mother, Sharon, had her first tumor in her jaw just after my birth in 1973, and it cost her four teeth and a large chunk of jawbone. 1977 brought the birth of my younger sister, Britney, and another tumor. This one took a deeper, “U” shaped piece of the bone. A year later, a third tumor took the entire lower left quadrant of her jawbone, which was replaced with a metal rod. Winter always meant thick scarves wrapped around her head because the rod would get cold and radiate a monster ice-cream headache.

When she began having pain in her front left teeth, my grandfather intervened. His search led us to the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Keller, who had personally treated hundreds of such cases. The plan was to stabilize the front teeth and eliminate the painful bar by rebuilding her jawbone with a section of her hipbone. But instead, awoke to find the remaining five teeth and exactly half of her lower jawbone missing because of additional tumors discovered during the surgery. She was devastated, but six months later returned for her reconstructive surgery and returned home with her teeth wired shut.

For the next two months, virtually everything she ate was either sucked through a straw, or squirted into her mouth with a giant syringe (minus the needle). By about week three, she had dropped an alarming amount of weight and was desperate for something resembling real food. So my endlessly patient father pureed some spaghetti and spooned it into the syringe. Despite his efforts, the food still clogged the syringe, and we looked on with helpless unease as my mother faced yet another defeat.

In a flood of frustration and disappointment she slammed the syringe onto the counter — spraying the entire contents straight upward to form drippy orange stalactites on our pristine white plaster ceiling. Tears quickly turned to laughter, and the stain and story remain vivid for us.

For the next 25 years, my mother struggled with eating. Her new jawbone was a wonderful improvement, but she could still only chew on the right side. The long term effects included joint and bone erosion and the painful atrophy of her salivary glands and the left side of her tongue. But the daily struggle to eat was much harder to watch. My mealtime memories of my mother are all the same… she rarely finished her plate because she would stop either when her mouth was aching with fatigue, or when everyone else was finished with their meals.

Finally in 2008, her medical complications were extensive enough that the insurance would assist with the implantation of a prosthesis to restore a full mouth of teeth. After more surgeries to implant posts into her jaw, we returned in September for her permanent prosthesis. I watched as Dr. Koka secured it in place, and then something happened that no one had anticipated. Since the earliest surgeries, she has been troubled by the slight droop of her left cheek. Much like our spaghetti stain, no one else would notice, but she did… and it showed in her eyes in every picture I’ve ever seen of her. As he finished the installation, she sat up and looked at herself in the mirror, and what I saw in her eyes brings a tear to mine even now…

She liked what she saw.

We knew the functional implications this final visit to the Mayo Clinic would bring, but we never anticipated the more subtle — but no less powerful — impact it might have. The prosthesis filled out her jaw and cheek and smoothed the contour of her face. She beamed, and I cried.

Needless to say, we floated through the clinic that day on our way out to her first meal. We giggled, we laughed and as we approached the atrium the sun was shining through the glass and the flowers were blooming. It was as close to a perfect day as we could imagine.

And then we heard the piano and the laughter. From the balcony we could see an older couple sitting side by side at the piano playing together and entertaining a host of people. Some were in wheelchairs, others were sitting with canes beside them or standing. Everyone was smiling with all burdens forgotten for the moment. The joy was absolutely indescribable. When we asked them to play one more for us, Fran and Marlow Cowan, who have been married for more than 62 years, treated us to an exceptional performance that is now a “youtube” sensation.

We walked to a nearby restaurant and she ordered a sandwich she would not have tried eating just hours earlier, and I snapped a few shots as she took her first full ½ circle bite out of a chicken sandwich in 25 years! You don’t have to know my mom to clearly see in her face what that meant to her… first the disbelief, then the tears, then raw pride and pure joy. AND… she liked the pictures!!! She was a new woman.

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That piano captures just one part of what makes the Mayo Clinic so remarkable. It’s a place where people come not only to be healed and made whole physically, but spiritually as well. Around that piano we come together as an ad hoc family — a community of people on different, but similar journeys – to heal together and share what brings us hope and joy.

And that makes for great stories…

Jodi Hume lives in Baltimore. Her mother, Sharon Turner, is a Mayo Clinic patient from West Virginia.

Editor’s note: For information on Mayo Clinic’s other social media sites, see 10 Ways You Can Use Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Tools.

Click here to read and listen to other Mayo Clinic patient stories.

Update (5/10/09): This morning’s Des Moines Register has a feature on the Cowans and how they’ve become a YouTube sensation without owning a computer. If you enjoyed this video, you’ll want to be sure to check that out, too.

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111 Responses to “A Bite of Life…”

  1. The Importance of Being Nimble (Part 2) « Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Says:

    […] I interviewed Marlow and Frances Cowan, our famous Octogenarian Idols from Ankeny, Iowa, on my way through their state as I was headed to a meeting. Their piano duet at Mayo Clinic has been seen more than 7.2 million times on YouTube; this video shot on my pocket camcorder the week before their appearance on Good Morning America has more than 200,000 views. (And by the way, the video that started it all was also captured with a nimble device, Sharon Turner’s phone.) […]

  2. Rick Says:

    My name is Rick, I am 49 years old. I have a failed back surgery which went out a year after I had it in 2003 and have suffered from 2004 untill the present, a severe head injury from 3 years ago, I tore up both of my shoulders in May of 2002 from a fall down the basement stairs while working on my house, I could not rotate my arms for over 2 years and my shoulders are still weak, I have had pain in my hands and forearms from a metal sheering job since 1991, I have had a depression/anxiety disorder since I was a young adult maybe even a teen, my wife who I loved and do not like living without left me in 2001, we have a son I love also. I am on disability and tried to work with doctors even at the Mayo, Vocational Rehab Services, the colleges, there are too many aspects of being disabled to discuss here. I believe life is a gift from God, but when we make to many mistakes, it becomes to much to sort out. There is no provision for euthanasia in this country, but they are allowed to shoot a horse to stop it suffering. My beliefs would not promote euthanasia or suicide and I would love to be happy and desire to live, but the truth is I see no reason to continue researching dead end solutions. I don’t really want to die, I just see it as the only thing that is going to end my lonely futile efforts. I am trying to get up the courage to face possible eternal non-existence, to stop my suffering. I believe God answers prayers, but I have come to realize that we need to pray for the wisdom to avoid ending up in conditions like mine. I do not believe he saves us from our mistakes, even if the consequenses are death. Human doctors and institutions cannot fix a broken life they are just highly paid to pretend.

    • Sharon Says:

      Dearest Rick, you sound soooo discouraged. I just want to sit here with you for a minute, and try to feel and understand all that you are going through. I am not going to offer you any meaningless platitudes, or try to tell you that all will be well tomorrow, but I am sitting here beside you, praying that some of my words might bring you comfort. You have so much on your plate… so much to deal with… I cannot change any of those things, or heal your body… and I am often plagued with discouragement myself, so I am not one to give advice. But I do care deeply for your pain. I know that there was a time in my life, before the surgery you saw in this video, when I had given up on myself, all medical personnel, and even God, Himself. I honestly thought about committing suicide to be out of my pain and discouragement. I saw no hope for the future and believed with all my heart that I was beyond even God’s ability to help me, because I knew that I wasn’t a Moses, or a David, so why would God care. My lowest point came at 3:45 in the morning, one Thursday morning. I resigned myself to my fate and walked around looking at my children and my husband sleeping. There is not time quieter than 3:45 in the morning. I felt so totally alone in this world, and lost. Suddenly, the phone SCREAMED and scared me to death! Who would be calling me at 3:45 in the morning? It was my Aunt Betty, from 200 miles away, who said, “Sharon, this is your Aunt Betty, and I am calling you to tell you that God loves you, and that He has never forsaken you. I have no idea what is going on in your life, but I have been on my knees in prayer for two hours about you. And I am awake and calling you at 3:45 in the morning to tell you that God loves you.” Rick, I don’t know what will happen in your life to make anything change. But I do know for a fact that God has never forsaken you, and that He loves you enough to allow His only Son to die on your behalf. Go to Him in prayer and tell Him everything. Forget everything you have been taught, or have told yourself about religion or faith, open your heart in prayer and give God all your frustration, fear, anger, and doubt, then listen to God as He speaks to you. Look for ways He will help and comfort you, trust Him and rely on His help. Leap into faith. He will either catch you or teach you to fly. You are in my prayers day and night my friend and fellow traveler. Love in Christ, Sharon Turner

  3. Linda sue french-Parker Says:

    My name is Linda,Iam 61years old,and feel hopeless,I need a complete
    jaw replacement,and live on disability,I live in Riverton Wy.and the mayo
    clinic would of been my only hope,since my own bone cant be used for the
    jaw replacement,but the mayo clinic doesnt except my title 19 waiver
    medicade.I live in such pain,and dont believe in pain killers,when the pain wont go away,and dont want to become addicted to them,Ive been going to the huntsman cancer institute in salt lake,but they dont do
    this surgery except by useing your own bone.Iam glad those who have been helped by the mayo clinic,and can now have a better life ahead of them,you have been truely blessed.thanks for your stories.Linda

  4. Five Stars in Any Language « Sharing Mayo Clinic Says:

    […] original duet, which was captured by another patient, posted to YouTube by her daughter and posted to Sharing Mayo Clinic a year ago Wednesday, led to […]

  5. Carol Says:

    I am an employee of over 30 years at Mayo Clinic. I think one of the absolute best things that Mayo has done over the years is to have that piano in the Gonda Building atruim for all to enjoy. I frequently walk through there and it ALWAYS puts a smile on my face to see everyone sitting around, playing, singing, dancing and just enjoying themselves. There is an email circulating around today at Mayo that the Cowan’s will be in the Gonda lobby today at noon for a revisit. I am sure to be down there to enjoy since I didn’t get to witness their original performance. I hope someone brings their camera so that we may have more YouTube videos to enjoy!!!

  6. Susan J Swanson Says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you…

    I am grateful for your Mom’s determination as well as the wonderful outcome. The couple who played the piano was certainly a gift to all who were there. God blesses us in so many ways…

    Reading your story makes me realize that perhaps I should make a trip to Mayo’s… I have had much improvement as I am a survivor of West Nile Virus, but am having other problems which complicate further advancement. Maybe they can help me too.

    The wonderful doctors were able to help my daughter when another doctor accidentally severed a nerve while removing a tumor many many years ago… They also were able to help my ex-husband with his leg many years ago.

    May the Lord continue to bless you, and may you be mindful of those blessings.

  7. Gwen Manis Says:

    This was so much fun. I would like to try playing this in senior centers to make other people happy but I have been unable to locate the sheet music. Please let me know where I can find the piano duet-Old Grey Bonnet. Thank you so much.

  8. Christie Brasco Says:

    Thank you so much for putting this awesome story on this site. I am leaving for my 1st trip to Mayo tomorrow morning at 8am. I have an appt to see Dr. Keller. Ever since I got accepted to have an appt I have been very excited but very very nervous. This is a problem that has been going on for 13 yrs and I have endured so SO much pain every single day. Hearing you talk about how wonderful and how talented Dr. Keller is makes me feel more at ease. I am have been so scared that whatever Dr. I saw would say that there was nothing wrong and that he couldn’t help me…just like all of the other dr’s I have seen for the past 13 yrs. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong and why there was so much infection in my maxilla that they just gave up and told me that they don’t know and that it must be a neuralgia. But it isn’t a neuralgia b/c neuralgia’s don’t create infection & they certainly don’t kill other teeth as this has. Anyway, I am very nervous b/c I want so bad to close this chapter in my life. Thank you so much for putting my apprehensiveness to rest on this Sat. night…the night before I leave for my long awaited world renowned Mayo Clinic visit.

    • Megan Says:

      I am interested in hearing your story. I have struggled with a number of Jaw and teeth issues over the last 5 or 6 years. Most people have just dismissed the problem, but I have this gutt feeling that something isn’t right. It sounds like you have been experiencing some of the issues that I have. And maybe you may have some more experiences than me, that might point me in the right direction to see if I need to seek out more answers. Would you be interested in talking?

      • Christie Says:

        Yes Megan, I would. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to this. I just happen to be back on this site or I wouldn’t have ever seen that you’d left this post to me. I’m sorry. I don’t even really know for sure if you will see this. I don’t have your email address…hopefully you will see this post.

  9. La simple y cruda verdad sobre los “virales”. Says:

    […] vídeo fue subido espontáneameante a YouTube por su autora (aquí teneis la historia completa), y solo logró poco más de 1000 visitas en los seis primeros meses. Lee contactó vía twitter […]

  10. Cindy Koffler Says:

    Thank you Jodi for sharing that video with the rest of us! My Grandaddy was the love of my life and I lost him in 2004! He always use to “bang” on my piano and I remember swelling up with love and pride and joy at the knowing that I was watching my grandaddy play my piano! I miss him so much and when I saw this video I was taken out of my everyday life and able to spend a little time with my grandaddy!!! Thank you so much and I am so happy for your mom!! You and her are in my prayers always!!

  11. Faol-Inc.Com - Education Guide » How to Use Social Media: An Interview with Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic Says:

    […] to YouTube by her daughter, Jodi Hume. You can read the story of how that video came to be in a Sharing Mayo Clinic post Jodi wrote. By the way, I connected with Jodi through […]

  12. OPEN Forum by American Express OPEN | | How to Use Social Media: An Interview with Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic Says:

    […] to YouTube by her daughter, Jodi Hume. You can read the story of how that video came to be in a Sharing Mayo Clinic post Jodi wrote. By the way, I connected with Jodi through […]

  13. Brenda Filippi Says:

    The old people on U Tube playing the piano brought me back to my childhood,when I watched my grandfather play the Harmonica and his sister,Pearl play the piano,their brother played with the Benney Goodman Band. He played the Trumpet.
    It gave me such a amazing feeling to be reminded of those days and also how much I miss my granddfather.
    I understand how those people pull together as my husband had lung cancer four and a half years ago and felt the support from all who were in the same positiion. We were lucky,that was four and a half years ago and so far all is well.
    Thank You for shareing this bit of film with us.

  14. Nick Says:

    This is the most amazing video I have ever seen. It exemplifys the true foundation of what America is…No matter the political and/or economic clime…good times or bad….we move on….we survive and we LIVE…

  15. Angel Says:

    Listening to Marlow and Frances’ Mayo Clinic story was heartwarming; it evoked both laughter and tears. If each person in the World would share their talents as do this precious couple, the World would be a better place to live. They, definitely, “Make a joyful noise” !!

  16. Gene Deck Says:

    I am so grateful that you have shared this story with me. I had surgeries and treatment for throat cancer and suffered for more than 2 years and could not eat any solid food for 9 months. I lost 155 lbs in the process and only made it through all of the suffering with my faith in God and the love and support I received from my family. As I took my first bite of solid food in 9 months the big tears welled up in my eyes and my heart throbbed with excitement. Your story brought those same tears to me. And, made me realize how God through the skills he gave the surgeons and doctors helped me to endure. Your video and story will remain on my computer so that I can recall it from time-to-time and give prayer of thankfulness to God for his love and healing power.

  17. Mayo Clinic Music Fun | Church Debate Humor Says:

    […] For more background on how this video came to be, see the touching story of the patient, Sharon, who captured it, told from the perspective of her daughter, Jodi, who accompanied Sharon to Mayo Clinic for the […]

  18. Suzanne, Zimbabwe Says:

    Oh how I would love for my Mum to be attending such a clinic as she is going through her own struggle with Leukaemia, and clinics and hospitals in Zimbabwe are worlds apart from those such as the Mayo Clinic. However I know that she will find great inspiration in this truly heartwarming story which I will share with her. Thank you Sharon, Jodi, Fran & Marlow, and the Mayo Clinic for their great idea of having a piano there to share.

    • Pat Donahue Says:

      Dear Suzanne,
      Best wishes to you and your mother – my husband and I just returned from Zimbabwe and saw evidence of the recent economic struggles. I hope better times will be yours. I am a Medical Social Worker at a hospital in the USA and we also have a piano for patients and visitors to play. I love to hear the sound of the music when I enter and leave the hospital.

  19. Christie Seymour Says:

    My family up here in Calgary, Canada happened upon your beautiful story by receiving an e-mail about the Mayo Pianos which we had never known even existed before…and then following some links to find out more information about them.
    You were indeed designed and created with a purpose and a vision and with meaning and beauty in mind by a God who loves you indescribably and beyond comprehension!! Be blessed!!

  20. Mayo Clinic “Octogenarian Idols” Scheduled to Appear on Good Morning America « Sharing Mayo Clinic Says:

    […] the original post that includes their piano duet here, and click here to see the story of Sharon Turner, the Mayo Clinic patient who shot that video, as told by her daughter Jodi Hume, who uploaded the […]

  21. Simon Says:

    I’m very grateful that my good friend John sent me a link to this site. The story of the daughter’s devotion and the mother’s strength of character is trully inspirational together with the enormous support that the clinic seems to give. I’m not a Christian, I’m a Buddhist but I have every admiration for any organisation that fosters neither fear nor favour and exists for charitable benefit to its grateful users.

  22. Norma Riegel Says:

    God is so good. The video was awesome, and the healing through God’s hands make it all worth it.

  23. Gary Stonehouse Says:

    That is totally awesome. I wept when I read the story. May God bless you Sharon. Thank you for sharing this story

  24. kathy kail Says:

    May God bless everyone that was priviledged to read this story. I feel blessed, that Jodi shared this with us.

  25. Amanda Johnson Says:

    Woops! I almost forgot: By the way, my step daughter, Rachel Johnson, is a first year pediatric nurse for Mayo Clinic. We live in Michigan, but she interviewed at Mayo and loved it so much, she took the job and moved away from us in Michigan to Mayo Clinic to be a pediatric nurse there. She LOVES it!

  26. Amanda Johnson Says:

    I am a MUSIC TEACHER for elementary kids in a very tough school district. Your story brought tears to my eyes for your wonderful, strong and courageous mom and also cemented the fact for me, that my career choice has been well worth the struggle and hard work, especially with kids like mine who are from “tought” home situations. MUSIC CAN BE VERY VERY HEALING 🙂

  27. Julie Says:

    I have been bringing my husband to Mayo for just over 20 years. He has had 3 surgeries and numerous other treatments for brain tumors. The last surgery was performed on January 5, 2009 and has left him with many deficits. He has severe balance issues, memory loss, many moments of confusion and is unable to work. He also has a trach because he cannot protect his airway and has a feeding tube because he cannot eat or drink anything by mouth. Over the years, Mayo, St. Mary’s Hospital and Rochester in general, have come to represent horrible times in our lives, and we hate going there. I just want you to know, that I know EXACTLY where this piano is. We’ve walked by it, literally hundreds of times. I also want you to know that from now on, every time we walk by it, it will now bring a smile to a face that is usually been frowning while there. Thank you for that gift.

  28. Kimberlee Aliapoulios Says:

    Thank you for the JOY you shared with me. I have tears of JOY! May God bless you. I see that he has….but may your life continue to bless others. II Corinthians 1:3-11 With a great appreciation for the healing of music for the soul, mind and spirit.
    Serving others through Christ,

  29. sammye foster Says:

    Enjoyed your story, which I received from friends who are now part of the Mayo “family.” Bless you and congratulations on your success!!

  30. Social Media Case Study – Mayo Clinic Video Goes Viral « Social Media Snippets Says:

    […] Heartwarming. In digging deeper into the backstory behind this video, we come to learn about Sharon, her reconstructed jaw and extremely positive experience as a patient at Mayo. Sharon was on cloud […]

  31. In Case You Missed It: Healing Music | Swine Flu Daily Update Says:

    […] her mother after her mother’s jaw surgery. Her mother laughed, and later that day, took a bite out of a sandwich for the first time in 25 […]

  32. Charlie Patin Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the video and your mom’s story. I’m thankful because I was luckier then she was. In Oct. 1997 I had minor surgery in a Oral Surgeon’s office for a tumor in my lower left jaw. He repeated it again in Apr. ’98. We thought all was well so my wife and I left to work in a campground in Vermont. By May I was having problems so we went to Dartmouth Med. School in N.H. about 30 min. from the campground where I met a great surgeon who’s name escapes me. He pulled put me under and and pulled 3 teeth so he could go try to get all the “daughter cells” out of my jaw. Two months later he had to go in again for the same reason. This time I came out of surgery with my jaw wired together because the bone was not much more than egg shell thick. I was lucky because apparently that did it. In 6 weeks the wires were removed and in another 3 or 4 the braces came off. I’m OK now but your mom’s story tells me how lucky I was. She looks great. I’m glad that she’s OK now.

  33. jayedized Says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful story. Oh…. how the sounds of that piano starting up and then watching the Cowens play those ivories together so beautifully and with such spirit, so full of life, filled with such happiness and zest for life – it filled my heart with such joy! My sister and I both play the piano. I’m 50; she’s 55. We recently lost our mom, and since one her very favorite things in life was to hear my sister and I play duets on the piano for her, this story not only made me smile and laugh and want to get up and go play the piano, and it also brought a few tears, too …. I was able to see that sparkle in mom’s eyes when she would ask “why don’t you two go play the piano – just a few songs!”

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! I am a registered nurse; I retired from my “real job” a few years ago so that I could care for my aging parents who were unable to care for themselves any longer. In my career, I used to play the piano every Sunday afternoon for the residents of the long-term, skilled facility I worked. I’ve seen the miracles that happen when the sounds of music fills the air. In the case of your mom, to see what the Cowen’s performance did for her and how she would then take her first 1/2 circle bite from the chicken sandwich ….. it doesn’t get any better (this, you know!)

    What an inspiring, beautiful story. It’s helped heal my heartache, too! Thank you! Best wishes and good health to you and your family!

  34. Trudy Deal Says:

    smiling through my tears! God bless you all as you have blessed me with your stories.

  35. Sharon Says:

    My husband has been going to Mayo since 1949 for a WWII injury and he got me to Minnesota in 1974 where I had surgery for cancer. We have been going to Mayo in Jacksonville for years and they have kept our old bodies going great guns. The video of the Cowans was wonderful. I both laughed and cried. My parents played and sang in the Number 10 saloon in Deadwood in the 1930’s and I was reminded of them. Thank you Sharon’s daughter for capturing it for us all.

  36. Mary Lou Says:

    Two wonderful stories and proof that you should take piano lessons. I never heard anyone say, “I regret learning to play the piano.” Music has healing properties!

  37. Janice Butler Says:

    I know of the miracles of Mayo Clinic; I had heart valve replacement in June ’07, followed by liver and colon resect in August ’07. I am so grateful to the team of doctors who oversaw my medical problems and continue to do so. I find myself returning twice a year for check-ups and know I am in the best of hands.

  38. Kathy Jevas Says:

    An absolutely incredible story, one which is uplifting and encouraging. Thanks for sharing your story with the world! God bless you all!

  39. cheryl Says:

    Thank you Cowans and what an amazing story that Sharon and her daughter tell. Mayo clinic keep up the (not only life saving but also face saving) work.

  40. Debbie Says:

    What a uplifting story!!! Gives hope to anyone no matter the problem.
    God bless you all!!!

  41. Brad Simpson Says:

    I can’t tell you how much that story meant to me. For 3 years, 1965, 1966, and 1967, I was a member of the YMCA Boys Chorus and Bell Ringers. I was fortunate enough to travel to the New York World’s Fair, perform at Disneyland in California and take many more trips with the Chorus.

    Marlow and Frances were a joy to work with, strict in trying to keep 40+ boys in line on those trips and the basis of hundreds of wonderful childhood memories.

    Now, as a retired Police Lieutenant from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, I know that my childhood was shaped and formed by my parents and my association with Marlow and Frances Cowan. Thanks for reminding me of what made my life so wonderful.

    • Elaine Says:

      Isn’t it wonderful to once again see the people who were so inspirational in your life as a youth! Bless your heart for taking the time to write about it. I enjoyed reading your response. I find the internet positively facinating as it has connected so many people together. You would think by my answer that I am relatively new to using the world wide web, on the contrary, I’ve been using the internet for at least 15 years and still find wonderment in all its possibilites.

      With regard to how you spent your youth, your parents were indeed wise. It is far better to invest in the high chair than later to have to invest in an electric chair!

  42. Sharon Says:

    What a blessing it is to read all your comments to my daughter, Jodi, and to me! All these years I have felt so isolated in my troubles, (I, too, had a giant cell granuloma) and now to be flooded with all the love and kind words is just amazing! I hated putting my children through all of this when it was happening, and now I believe that is why Jodi is so good at coaching, because of the compassion she learned at my suffering. My other daughter is just as strong and wise and I am blessed as a Mother to have such wonderful and strong women in my life. All those years of my thinking I was hurting my girls… but God turned it all around as He has all the troubles in my life. “But we know that all things work together for good for those who love God…”

    • Patricia Henderson Says:

      Sharon, I was so inspired and moved when I viewed the video clip. I too have had challenges which I thought might have impacted on my children but because of those challenges we have a much richer, deeper relationship than ever and they too are amazingly strong and wise. My two children – a boy and a girl or maybe I should say a man and a woman! – are your girls’ age and a little older and I think are just amazing. This doesn’t demean your suffering; you’ve obviously endured so much over so many years but, yes, God turns things around and, yes again, “All things work together for good to those who love God…”.

  43. Nancy Fear Says:

    This was a more wonderful story for me than you could have ever guessed. That man WAS (just like) my Dad! The only reason my Mom wasn’t the other part of the duet was that she couldn’t play the piano…….she would have been sitting there clapping for him (and getting her bottom patted on his way by!) I also had a tumor in my lower left jaw (giant cell granuloma) and lost 6 teeth…and had the implants into the remaining bone for the prosthesis. Until reading the story of your Mom, I didn’t realize how very lucky I was to have had only a couple of surgeries from it. I have put the video into “my favorites” so I can replay watching “Dad” in the future. He and Mom were married 54 years when he died in 1984.
    It is wonderful that your Mom has been returned to almost normal function after all these years…and that she has such a loving and supportive daughter.

  44. Emmett Kessinger Says:

    WOW What a wonderful story and sharing your family with families all across this good old USA…..Blessings to you and to all who read great stories like this one.
    So many times we give up….As Mark Twain stated,
    “I can live for two months on a good compliment”
    Lets say “HATS OFF TO MAYO CLINIC” and remember in our
    daily thoughts and prayers those who are less fortunate as

  45. Margie McCain Says:

    What a great, uplifting story. Thank God for miracles and for the Mayo Clinic for all the great work they do for so many. Congratulations to Sharon for her miracle. We take eating for granted until something devastating happens to prevent us from doing so. Thanks to Jodi for such a touching story about her mom. The couple in the video that were playing the video provided the highlight of her leaving the clinic. What an inspiration they are to so many! May you have many blessed years ahead of you, Sharon!

  46. Judy Myles Says:

    What an inspirational story, especially reading it on Mother’s Day. I live in Coquitlam, BC, Canada and only have heard about how wonderful the Mayo Clinic is.

    Since 2003, I have had three right hip replacements during five operations. My femur was broken during the first operation which lead to the next four. Unfortunately I’m very suseptable to infection, having four major ones and almost every complication a patient can go through.

    My Dear Sister Diane, sent me this e-mail yesterday and the uplifting story has reduced my self-pity and set me on my way to a healthy recovery.

    God Bless you Sharon. The story of the ‘orange circle’ made me laugh thinking of all the stress, worry and trouble I’ve put my dear, loving husband, Doug through. He has been an excellent caregiver and husband this past 37 years.

    Jodi, you are a very loving daughter and I want to thank you so much for sharing your’s and your Mom’s story with ‘me’.

    Happy Mother’s Day to your Dear Mother, Sharon and thank you for helping me.

    O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.
    . . . Psalm 30.2

  47. Jo Watlington Says:

    What a wonderful story and video. It helps us to remember that God is still in the Miracle Business. We never know when the Miracle will be ours. God Bless all who are touched by this e-mail.

  48. Reyhan, Dehra Dun, India Says:

    What a very inspiring story of faith and courage. May God bless you both.

  49. Viv Says:

    The tears in my eyes are making a mess of my typing. As I struggle to keep my own mother healthy and my friends mother is closs to dieing. This story reminds me why we love our moms so much. When I had my son, I felt calm take over my body when a nurse told me that my mom, who after driving cross country from New Mexico to North Carolina to be with me, had arrived at the hospital safe and sound. Just before I was to be wheeled in to the operating room for my C-section.

  50. Mary E. Farrell Says:

    Thank you for sharing this story with me. It is truly one of inspiration, faith in God and in prayers, hope. Such a wonderful ending.

  51. Glady Says:

    I live in Canada so I have not even seen the Mayo Clinic but I go to their Wed Site for information all the time. I often think about all the trails and tribulations of the lives inside that healing place of wonders.
    I am so gratetul that you have shared your experience of those 25 years of endurance with the tumors and the surgeries and disappointments. I pray this story will encourage people to “never give up”. Your Mom is “beautiful”. It is a very happy story.
    The couple playing the piano melt my heart and I wish I could give them a hug! They should be getting “fan email” or something. Blessings to you and your family.

  52. Shoshana Says:

    Wow. Your story is precious with the inspiring perserverance factor, as well as the way you illustrated your family’s acts of love. I hope you’ve published this beyond the blog. It would help many to keep on going in the face of chronic trouble as it already is doing by the comments on the blog

  53. Sharon Says:

    I have spent countless hours with my parents at Mayo, including much time in the Gonda Bldg. I will think of this clip everytime I walk through! The song they are playing (Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet …) is one my parents love, too. They have been married 60+ yrs, and Dad is now living in a nsg home. This brings happy tears to my eyes!

  54. Nana Louie Says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful story.
    The medical profession today consists of miracle workers.
    We are so blessed to live in these times.

  55. Robynn's Ravings Says:

    What a miracle to find a CURE after all these years. And the thing that warmed my heart the most was your beautiful daughter caring SO MUCH about your lifelong struggles and being so joyful at your healing! It is obvious that all you have in your famly runs much deeper than any health issue could ever touch.

    And our family shares a similar philosophy on stories – we’ll put up with almost anything for a good story! I will NEVER run out of material on my blog where I write “mostly” humorous posts. (Not all of life is funny and sometimes I do have to rant a bit. 🙂 )

    Anyway, thanks for sharing and go take a BIG BITE out of life!

  56. Linda Says:

    Jodi’s mom and the young musical couple are shining examples of the divine in our humanity. Don’t you know this is why Adam and Eve were created 🙂 so that the Father could enjoy His children’s gratitude.

  57. Joann Thompson Says:

    I was having my first post-surgery “liquid meal” when I read this story. I don’t have cancer, and the liquids are only temporary, so I can no longer feel sorry for myself after reading your mother’s story. May God be with you, and I hope you have many more years with your precious mother.

  58. Betty D Says:

    Dear Sharon,
    No one but no one will ever understand the pain you have gone through. I am so happy for you. and can sense that you are doing well. As a patient of the Mayo Hosp in Phoenix, AZ The only reason I could tolerate as many visits as I did was because of the caring staff. I received a kidney from my cousins new husband of 8 months, a man I had only met twice for a total of a half an hour at the most. when he called one morning to say he wanted to give me a kidney after being on Dialysis for 2 years I could hardly believe that someone would do this for me, his name is Lou Trammell and he is my HERO! There are a million interesting stories the Mayo has played a huge roll in. God Bless You and your family

  59. Linda Lynch Says:

    God bless your family! What an uplifting story to read and hear. I too am a cancer survivor and know it brings struggles, but the joy in your faces shows that you rose above it.

  60. Janet Marquart Says:

    Oh, how I remember the piano and the Gonda Building at Mayo in Rochester from many trips there in the aggressive treatment of my Breast Cancer. I owe my life to Mayo! The place is magic, and the piano music flowing from the Gonda Building is just as inspirational!

  61. Diana Fruge Says:

    This story has made my day. I cried through the whole thing. What a brave woman. It takes so much courage and preserverance to go through what she and her family went through. I believe God steps in and gives us strength. This kind of thing can happen to anyone at any age. This story should be read by all who are going through long term illness. Bless this family.

  62. OMG SO CUTE! « my heart and my song Says:

    […] more info on the place and the couple here http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2009/04/23/a-bite-of-life/ […]

  63. Bz Says:

    What a FAntastic story. I love the stain on the ceiling part… though sad, it’s happy. Ohhhh what we take for granted!
    Thank you SO for sharing.

  64. Susan Langdon Says:

    What a fabulous story – thank you so much for sharing it! I received the link from a wonderful family member who is so much more and i can’t tell you how touching it is. Your story is what makes people continue to hope – to persevere through all that is challenging in life because miracles do happen and prayers are answered. I am so happy that you had this opportunity to share a life-changing moment and so many thanks to all of those who spent countless hours learning and researching to make medical miracles happen.

  65. Top Posts « WordPress.com Says:

    […] A Bite of Life… When I think about my family’s history with the Mayo Clinic, I immediately think of the kitchen ceiling in my […] […]

  66. Diane Yarrington Says:

    What a wonderful story. It brought laughter and tears!

    • Mary Lou Says:

      Diane, I recognized your name from when I lived in Norman, OK and John was the music minister at McFarlin Methodist. I sang in the choir and am now a choir director in my home town. I use some of John’s compositions regularly as service music. God bless you and your family.

  67. Neas Nuttiness Says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  68. William D. Tomany Says:

    Great story and video

  69. Paula Beasley Says:

    For years I have heard wonderful stories about the healing that takes place at The Mayo Clinic. One of our dearest friends, Dr. Harold Calhoon received his medical training in urology at The Mayo and over the years he has referred countless people to this facility for diagnosis and treatment. I can see why he feels so stongly about the wonderful medical advances that continue to substantiate The Mayo’s reputation. Thank you for this uplifting story.
    Paula Beasley
    Tulsa, Oklahoma

  70. Charles Says:

    Truly a moment to remember. And it fits with my own Motto.

    ‘Treasure every moment because after you are dead, life isn’t worth living’.

  71. Social Media Smile — creative blog solutions Says:

    […] To read more about Jodi (a fellow coach) and her mom, visit the Mayo Clinic Blog, Bite of Life. […]

    • Kristin Says:

      What a great story…thanks for sharing! My niece’s husband was given a kidney by my niece about 6 years ago at Mayo at Rochester. After spending several days, several times, at Mayo, I determined I would tell everyone I knew that they should visit the facility whether they needed help or not. If visiting in that area, make Mayo Clinic one of your goals. The care was warm, true, organized, precise, safe, vigilent, and sincere. How wonderful to add THE PIANO…and those who stop and play it. How much warmer and safer can one feel? Thank you Sharon and Jodi for letting us in on your miracle and sharing the love you found there.

  72. Sheryl Says:

    God surely works in mysterious ways…what wonderful people all around!

  73. The Healing Power of Music « Memorable Moments from Masterworks Studio of Decatur, Georgia Says:

    […] To read Jodi’s post in its entirety, please visit the Mayo Blog here. […]

  74. glorea shor Says:

    Only at the Mayo Clinic can miracles happen. I am a former patient of the Mayo Clinic at Scottsdale, Az. The Drs., the staff and the patients are all a wonderful group of people. You only gain faith when you are there and are treated by one of their staff. The kindness that is shown is reciprocated by the patient and many a patient has had their life saved by the wonderful care and knowledge of the physicians and their staff. There is also a piano at Scottsdale and oftentimes somebody would sit down and play and people passing by would stop and watch.
    I am so happy for Sharon and the two piano players who made everybody’s day brighter!

  75. B. Enoch Says:

    This is an awesome story. Your mother is a real trooper. I have tears streaming down my cheeks. We are seniors and can identify with all that was going on. Thanks for sharing your story.

  76. Marti Farrington Says:

    This is such a powerful story of the healing that can take place at the Mayo Clinic, but also the perseverance of Sharon and her family and the doctors who treated her and God who guided all of them along the way. I was so moved to read how each time when it seemed that Sharon was just about to give up she found the strength to keep fighting almost as though she knew someone would find a cure for her disease. And sure enough Dr. Koka did. Now she can eat corn on the cob. I loved that because that is one of my favorite foods.

    Mayo Clinic has been a God send for so many people. Now I have a friend facing ALS and is awaiting her insurance approval to go there for a second opinion. I hope she gets it because I know after reading this incredible story of healing and renewal that she will be in the best of hands.

    And Fran and Marlow Cowan have their own form of healing in the way they make incredible music with the piano. They can heal so many with their music and make us smile in doing it.

    Thank you, Jodi, for your beautiful words and sharing your family’s story with all of us. It has brought such joy with all the bad news we hear every day. This is a good news day.

  77. pam white Says:

    What a wonderful display of talent by seniors! My 92 year old mother still dances, does high kicks, and ends with the splits. My father was a fantastic pianist. Mother appeared on the “Can You Impress Ed Asner” segment 2 years ago on the Jay Leno Show. She was a huge hit.
    I can only imagine that these two seniors would certainly impress Ed Asner. Get on the show!!!!
    So glad to know that Sharon is doing well. What an inspiration to all!

  78. Doris Conklin Says:

    What a beautiful video and accompanying story. Blessings to Sharon & Jodi for sharing their experience. We have found thru trials that God is awesome … usually when we are at our wits end a ‘rainbow’ shines forth to lift us up & remind us of God’s faithfulness. Thank you again for sharing this wonderful “piano duo” – they are fabulous !! I pray that my husband & I have that much energy in our later years. We have been married now for 52 yrs. I guess I will go back and play the video again. God blessyou Sharon.

  79. Ed Gripp Says:

    Thanks for sharing this beautifully uplifting story. And it is also well written. We had just come fom church so it was already a good day but you have made it even better. And the comments prove that we live in a Christian nation, despite the President saying otherwise. God Bless you and all who are touched by this experience.

  80. Bob Stockman Says:

    Isn’t it wonderful to hear “good news” for a change? Congratulations Sharon on your victory. Your blessings are many with such a wonderful and supportive family, having such skilled doctors, and finding a facility like Mayo that provides the medical staff the space and tools to do their work. And of course the greatest blessing is having a loving God who brought all of these things together. Of course the musical contribution by Fran and Marlow Cowan must be included and applauded as they bring such happiness to the world.

  81. Jane and Dick Mayer Says:

    We have just returned from the Mayo Clinic April 30th & May 1st

    I was there for tests for a lung disease. The reports were good

    everything is stable. YES, we know of the Piano. When you

    hear it you are just drawen to the beautiful music, it is very

    uplifting!!!! Thank you Mayo Clinic.

  82. Jeri Stockman Says:

    What a beautiful story of perseverance and the happy ending to years of misery. I loved the video that Sharon shared with us on the internet. The elderly couple looked very young at heart and showed the love they have for each other. Also, Sharon’s family was a wonderful supportive family through all her trip to Mayo. It sounds like the folks who go there receive wonderful care. I, too, hope that a National Health Plan does not go into effect….

  83. Marnie Hensel Says:

    MY husband’s health failed for five years and I looked after him. When I went to Mayo for my annual physical three months after Carl’s dath they duiscovered that I had lung cancer. In my opinion it was caused by the grief over my husbands demise.
    Because it was discovered so early (Stage 1 A) they removed the bottom lobe of my right lung. No chemo or radiation was necessary. I have just returned to Mayo for my five year check up and I passed with flying colors.
    Words cannot describe my appreciation for all the care and attention that I was given & continue to rceive at the Mayo Clinic !

  84. Suzie Litton-Wood Says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I have watched the video of the ‘Cowans’ several times now and it never ceases to make me laugh and feel the sense of fun which must have been generated and reverbarated around that atrium. Thank you for sharing that with the world, also your own story and your relationship with the Mayo Clinic. A truely wonderful ending to a very long struggle.
    Love and Light to you and your family
    Derbyshire, UK

  85. Sharon Says:

    Out of isolation and despair into the light of love and acceptance… Your comments have warmed my heart and added much joy to the end of this long journey. I can assure you that I never take a bite of food without being grateful for the Mayo Clinic, my daughters and husband and entire family, and my God and King who supports and sustains me in all I do. I am blessed beyond words by the tender thoughts left here in your touching messages to me, May God bless each and every one of you richly, Sharon

  86. Merilyn Wright Says:

    Thank you! Thank you! How sweet to be invited to share in your rejoicing, and receive a gift from the Cowens of music and laughter . . . Truly “A Place for Miracles to Happen” . . This world is hurgry for stories based on love…

  87. Shelia Says:

    We can always find someone else that has it worse than we do. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that we all carry crosses. Some small, some large. But God controls it all and we thank him for the blessing your mother received. The piano duet was just an added plus and was a lift to the spirit.

  88. Enchante Morgan Says:

    This is a most wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing it.
    This woman is very brave and a gentle hug and many prayers for her, her family and her physicians.

  89. judy stocker Says:

    What a heartwarming story

  90. judy stocker Says:

    God bless, what a great story of the human spirit

  91. cindy Says:

    This is such a wonderful story about the older couple and about Sharon’s Mother , What a true blessing to see , This gave me such joy to watch this and to laugh. So glad to know Sharon’s Mother is doing so well now. And yahoo she can eat!!!! God bless her.

  92. Jane Morgan-Hawman Says:

    What a wonderful story and the piano duet just added more to a very good day for your mother. You are a wonderful daughter and I know she is very proud of you.

  93. Carol Says:

    What a wonderful story of faith and perserverance. Thanks for sharing and God bless you all!

  94. liz martin Says:

    a reminder that what we take for granted is an amazing gift to some.. thanks for sharing in such a personal manner… blessings

  95. Μπράβο στον Δημήτρη Ιατρίδη, που όλα τα προλαβαίνει! « Τσουκνίδα Says:

    […]  A Bite of Life… When I think about my family’s history with the Mayo Clinic, I immediately think of the kitchen ceiling in my […] […]

  96. Colleen W Says:

    What a wonderful story. Reading it brings back memories of special times I had with my husband at Mayo Clinic. My heart gets all warm and fuzzy just thinking about the place. It’s magic.

  97. heidi Says:

    that story was very insprational and it brought tears to my eyes

  98. Janet Yontz Says:

    Again a beautiful Mayo story has touched my heart as I sat at my computer this evening being very concerned about the news of a National Health Plan headed our way next week. This story is a reminder about how wonderful the Mayo Clinic is and I pray that this plan will not adversely affect patient care (like mine), research , trials and the physicians autonomy. I look forward to more “SHARING MAYO CLINIC”

  99. Teresa Says:

    what a wonderful story, well, stories. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad we can all count the Mayo Clinic for being a great place to go.

  100. Mayo Clinic to Hold “Tweetcamp II” on Medical Use of Twitter « Mayo Clinic News Says:

    […] Jodi Hume, introduced briefly at the end of this section, has written a post about her experience at Mayo Clinic with her mom.  […]

  101. Mayo Clinic Music Fun « Sharing Mayo Clinic Says:

    […] For more background on how this video came to be, see the touching story of the patient, Sharon, who captured it, told from the perspective of her daughter, Jodi, who accompanied Sharon to Mayo Clinic for the […]

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