Archive for January, 2011

A Healthy Match at Mall of America

January 31, 2011

If you’ve been shopping at Mall of America the past few months, you may have seen the “Healthy Match” game from Mayo Clinic — interactive health information spanning the façade of a storefront on the first level next to Bloomingdale’s. The signage invites passersby to participate in a touch-screen memory game featuring photos and tips on how to stay healthy. It also allows Mall visitors to enter their e-mail addresses to receive additional Mayo Clinic health information.

More than 11,000 people have played the game since it went up in late November, and one lucky winner will receive a $200 mall gift card. Check out the game this week for a final chance to play and win!

The “Health Match” game is just one of the ways Mayo Clinic is promoting healthy living at Mall of America. For more information about Mayo Clinic activities at Mall of America, visit

Guided Video Tours of Mayo Clinic

January 28, 2011

Mayo Clinic’s new Center for Social Media has produced a Patient Video Guide series to help new patients and their families better know what to expect when they arrive and to make the most of their visit.

Each year more than 500,000 patients travel to Mayo Clinic for care from every U.S. state and about 150 countries. The new tour series provides these patients with orientation videos from all three sites: Arizona, Florida and Minnesota.

Vivien Williams, producer of our Mayo Clinic Medical Edge television series, hosts the guided tours. Here’s her introduction to the Minnesota tour:

These videos are being offered on our Mayo Clinic YouTube Channel, here on Sharing Mayo Clinic (see the right column) and on the new mobile-friendly blog entitled: Mayo Clinic Patient Video Guides.

If you have suggestions for elements you would like to see included in future segments, please add them in the comments below.

Mayo and the Telephone

January 24, 2011

Mayo has been committed to using the latest communication technology in service to patients since the earliest days of practice.

According to family tradition, young Charlie Mayo – 14 years old at the time – set up the first telephone link in Rochester in 1879. It connected his father’s downtown office with the Mayo family’s farm in southeast Rochester. A natural mechanic, Charlie worked without plans, simply following photos and descriptions he had seen in various publications. The telephone itself was a novelty. Barely three years before, Alexander Graham Bell filed a patent to develop “an apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically.”

Charlie’s father, Dr. William Worrall Mayo, quickly realized how the innovative technology could improve patient care. He became the first physician in town to install a telephone. Still, it was a challenge to get the public to accept this unusual means of communication. The Rochester Record and Union offered a helpful explanation on Dec. 12, 1879:

“The telephone line between Dr. Mayo’s office and his residence is now set up, the machines, or instruments, whichever they are, in position, and everything working splendidly. Conversation can be carried on just as rapidly and accurately as though the persons talking were only separated by a few feet instead of a mile, and familiar voices can be recognized as easily. Parties wishing to summon the Dr. between 6 in the morning and 9 in the evening can do so by making their wants known as Messrs. Geisinger and Newton’s drug store. After 9 p.m. and before 6 a.m., it will be necessary to find Mr. George Tilsbury, the night watch, who will operate the instrument between the hours named when occasion demands. This will prove not only a convenience but a positive benefit for the Dr. and his patients.”

The Mayo brothers were innovators in all areas of medical practice, finding the best way to serve patients more effectively, including use of the latest communications technology.

That’s why we see formation of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media as very much in keeping with the Mayo legacy. And it’s why we’re passing on the Mayo brothers’ wisdom through a social medium we believe they would have used if it were available in their day.

Check out the “What would Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie Tweet?” initiative, with new wisdom from our founders every working day in 2011.

If Charlie Mayo installed a telephone system at age 14, how could he not tweet today?

Sister Generose & Intern Jena Rose

January 21, 2011

I was 9 years old and had arrived in Rochester for a minor, surgical procedure. While navigating our way around Saint Marys Hospital, my family and I ran across several portraits of the Sisters of St. Francis hanging in the hallway. Being raised Lutheran, I had never seen a nun before, and my parents patiently explained that these women were former administrators of the hospital. A few moments later my dad added, “And, Jena, I know it’s not spelled the same, but the sister on the end—that’s Sister Generose.” My first thought? “That’s my name!”

To clarify, the combination of my first name, Jena, and my middle name, Rose, sounds exactly like the name Generose. As a 9-year-old, I was ecstatic that I had a phonetically-shared name with a woman of such strong devotion and prestige. Learning of the existence of the Generose Building only added to my excitement because that had to mean she was a big deal! It was this joy I carried with me and that provided me with a sense of peace and comfort throughout my impending surgery.

Fast forward 11 years: I find myself spending my college J-term as an intern in the Department of Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic. The first couple days in the office were mainly spent becoming familiar with my surroundings and expectations of the position. Little did I know that I would be presented with the opportunity for my “Mayo experience” to come full circle.

On Thursday, January 6, I was fortunate enough to attend “The Values Thread at Mayo Clinic: A Conversation with Sister Generose Gervais and John H. Noseworthy, M.D.” This event was facilitated in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sponsorship.

As moderator Matt Dacy explained, the Sponsorship Board was formed in 1986, when Saint Marys Hospital, Rochester Methodist Hospital and Mayo Clinic formally integrated.  Its mission is to promote the Mayo Clinic values, and to maintain and reinforce the Catholic identity of Saint Marys Hospital.

As I was told, this event was a rare chance for employees to hear both of these notable figures speak—a chance I’m glad I did not miss. Both individuals were asked to share their journeys to Mayo and their experiences along the way.

As I’m confident many attendees would agree, while Dr. Noseworthy, Mayo Clinic’s president and CEO, is indeed a brilliant, passionate man, it was Sr. Generose who truly stole the show (even Dr. Noseworthy good-naturedly said it was difficult to offer his thoughts following her answers to the audience questions). Her wisdom and faith were evident in her confident, straightforward delivery peppered with witty stories and one-liners as well as valuable pieces of advice for the audience. I left the auditorium that day amazed and feeling as if I had traveled back in time to being a young child anxiously awaiting surgery at Saint Marys.

It has been over a decade since my first experience at Mayo, but my positive feelings toward the institution remain constant. I never dreamed I would land an internship with one of the world’s leaders in healthcare—ultimately creating a definite connection between my past and present. As an intern spending time with the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, this connection forms a parallel specifically with regard to the newly-formed “What would Dr. Will and Dr. Charlie Tweet?” project. A fusion of 20th century insight and 21st century technology, this project chronicles a Mayo brothers’ quote for each business day of 2011 via the Mayo Clinic Twitter account.

Similarly, Sr. Generose, a representative of Mayo Clinic’s rich history, possesses stores of wisdom applicable to today’s society. This became even more apparent in meeting her, when Sister discussed Scripture in relation to current events, education of today’s young people, and the plans God has in store for each of us.

This story represents what I like to call my personal “Mayo effect.” However, I now know there is much more to “Generose” than just the name of a building: she’s an icon, a living symbol, of the strength of Saint Marys and the blessing of caring compassion bestowed upon each patient.

Mayo: My Best Hope for Treating My Rare Cancer

January 20, 2011

Mayo Clinic had already been a source of invaluable consultations for my long-time autoimmune Sjogren’s Syndrome and for genetic counseling to ascertain potential genetic predisposition for the autoimmune conditions, cardiomyopathy and cancer that populated my family tree.

But late in 2008, skilled staff at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., greatly increased the odds that I’d be alive to write this blog entry at the beginning of 2011. I’ll be forever grateful to the surgical, oncology, gynecology, digestive health and complementary/integrative medicine staff that have provided medical treatments and ongoing consultations for my metastatic appendiceal adenocarcinoma.

Dianne Rhein

Light vaginal bleeding in the setting of a prior total abdominal hysterectomy began late in September 2008 while I was at the University of California in San Francisco participating in an international genetic study of Sjogen’s Syndrome. A biopsy at Luther Midelfort – Mayo Health System in my hometown of Eau Claire, Wisc., in late October revealed adenocarcinoma consistent with a colorectal primary. While my diagnostic colonoscopy revealed no signs of colon cancer, the staging CT scans revealed an appendiceal mass and a vaginal cuff mass. Surgical consultations were set to begin November 18 at Mayo.

Pulsating lower right quadrant pain landed me in Luther Midelfort’s Emergency Room on the afternoon of November 5th. The Emergency Room doctor treated my pain, and once my condition was stabilized, sent me off to Mayo Clinic in the middle of the night with plans to see Dr. Donald Jenkins, a critical care surgeon stationed at St. Marys Hospital, to serve as the lead for my medical team.

A wide range of consulting white-coated professionals were in and out of my hospital room in the following days. Appendix cancer is very rare. I had confidence that my medical team was well-prepared for all possible scenarios. Surgery took place on November 11 and an intact appendix, 14 lymph nodes, 12 inches of my colon, the tumor embedded in my vaginal cuff and enough tissue to assure clean margins were all removed. A smiling Dr. Jenkins announced to my anxious siblings that the surgery had gone “better than textbook.”

My post-surgical consults a few weeks later included Dr. Jenkins, medical oncologist Dr. Axel Grothey and internal medicine physician Dr. Amit Sood, with Mayo’s Complementary and Integrative Medicine program that I’d read about months ago in a Mayo Clinic newsletter. Dr. Grothey has consulted closely with my Midelfort Clinic oncologist Dr. Sandeep Basu to guide my chemotherapy regime. Twelve rounds were provided at Luther Midelfort’s Cancer Center from late December 2008 to mid-June 2009, with quarterly CT scans, blood work and Dr. Grothey consults at Mayo. I have found the office visits I’ve continued with Dr. Sood particularly valuable, in addition to his paced breathing DVD (also available as an IPhone app) and his Log On book detailing his many recommendations for mind-body healing.

Unfortunately vaginal bleeding in mid-February 2010 followed by a biopsy confirming vaginal wall invasive grade 3 adenocarcinoma of the appendix had metastasized. PET/CT scans also identified multiple peritoneal nodular regions suspicious for tumor recurrence. I started back on chemotherapy the end of March 2010, this time of a palliative nature. Surgery was deemed not an option. The cancer is now considered advanced, incurable and eventually terminal. I just completed chemotherapy treatment 27 at Luther Midelfort.

While in surgery at Mayo Clinic way back in November 2008, my sisters started a Caringbridge page for me. I’ve now have over 15,000 visits. This venue serves as a vehicle for me to share my
experiences and feelings and to gather up love and support from all over the country. Good friends here in Eau Claire helped me organize a “Share the Care” Morning Glories Circle of Care network to lend practical assistance and encouragement. My many years as a social worker with older adults and disabled persons continues to be an asset for me at this juncture, particularly my years with Hospice.

I’ve arranged for my body to be donated to Mayo Clinic for medical research, continuing the family traditions of my father Jim who died of cardiomyopathy and my sister Mary who died of ovarian cancer. I continue to value my quarterly visits to Mayo, where I always stop by for a few quiet moments in the life-affirming meditation chapel. Staff at the Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Family Education Center has kept me apprised of any up-to-date research articles on appendix cancer. I was thankfully able to participate in a brown-bag session on Intensions for Healing which connected me with other cancer patients intent on living a full life.

I look forward to receiving chemotherapy in the new cancer center at Luther Midelfort. I remain thankful that the close collaborations between my Mayo Clinic and Luther Midelfort medical teams have given me many days of living, with a hope of many more. And we are all rooting that I shall be in the audience at the University of Chicago in June 2012 to see my youngest daughter graduate. My “Dianne’s Future Amazing Life Adventures List,” that I started while awaiting surgery at Mayo Clinic, has served me well since my cancer diagnosis. I’m hard at work adding new dreams for 2011.

My most important life goal right now is to create fun, lasting memories with my two delightful young adult daughters Emma and Sally O’Brien. Together, we crossed out one of my “Amazing Life Adventures” list dreams by enjoying the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Fla., this past September. To keep me hopeful that my continuing chemotherapy treatments will garner me many more months of quality living, we are scheming to tour southern England in late August on the trail of writer Agatha Christie, whom we all relish. Hope is a very powerful thing. It could happen!

In the video below, Dianne shares some of her story.

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“New Year, New Skin, New Leg”

January 19, 2011

When Brenda M. woke up with flu-like symptoms in August 2007, she had no idea just how grave her condition was. Later in the day she noticed discoloration and severe pain in her right leg. By that afternoon, Brenda entered the emergency room where her health continued to decline. Doctors at Mayo Clinic worked incessantly to keep her alive through the night. She was diagnosed with an extremely rare blood infection and was given a 5 percent chance of survival.


Brenda began to improve with the help of medication. However, the infection had caused a great deal of damage to her right leg, and several months later, it was amputated below the knee. Though her road to recovery has been a long one, Brenda remains optimistic and eager to face the future. She is hoping to complete her skin graft treatments and begin the process of receiving a prosthetic in the upcoming year. Referring to this process, Brenda has adopted a motto for 2011: “New year, new skin, new leg.”

C.A.N. Do Anything

January 13, 2011

On October 16, 2010, Chris Norton, a freshman at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, was playing in a varsity football game when a special teams play left him with a fractured neck and compressed spinal cord. The incident resulted in him having no feeling below the area. After surgery, the physicians at Mayo Clinic informed him of his grim prognosis: Chris was expected to have a mere 3 percent chance of regaining movement below the injury site. Three months later, after weeks of intensive therapy and Chris’ sheer determination to walk again, he has overcome the odds and now has partial mobility in all four limbs. Each day yields promising results, as he continues to improve and rebuild his strength.

Backed by a powerful, compassionate network of family, friends and even strangers, Chris has gained not only regional but national attention as well. He has been mentioned on ESPN and has received an outpouring of support from college and professional-level coaches and athletes around the country. His story is an inspiration to many, and the acronym of Chris’ initials—C.A.N.—has served as a reminder to those around him that this young man certainly can do anything.