Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

Robotic Head and Neck Surgery

February 4, 2011

Surgeons at Mayo Clinic have developed a new robotic procedure performed through the mouth (transorally) to treat cancers of the tongue base and tonsils. Mayo Clinic is one of the few medical centers in the United States offering this surgery, and Mayo physicians have extensive experience in the procedure.

In this video, Doctors Kerry Olsen, M.D. and Steven Olsen, M.D. discuss the use of robotics for head and neck surgery. A patient also shares her experience.

MaryEllen’s Journey: Hope Returns (Final Episode)

February 1, 2011

The moment finally came. 

But it was an uneasy one at first.

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

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

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

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

Missed an episode?:

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

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Dr Northfelt on Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center team

MaryEllen on why she enrolled in a clinical trial

MaryEllen reacts to genetic counseling session

Bonus: Dr Northfelt on the importance of nutrition and fitness

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

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.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

A Mayo Moment with a “Woman Cut in Half”

December 20, 2010

A big part of the reason for Sharing Mayo Clinic is to give Mayo patients the opportunity to share their stories of how Mayo has changed their lives. It’s inspiring for employees to hear about the difference we make together as an organization and in teams, and how each of us individually contribute.

At this morning’s Surgical Quality Conference, a quarterly meeting of all of the departments involved in surgery at Mayo Clinic, staff heard the story of Janis Ollson, who had a first-of-its kind pelvic spine reconstruction after cancer surgery three years ago. Thanks to a surgical team led by Dr. Michael Yaszemski, she not only survived but has returned to an active lifestyle with her husband and two children.

Here is the original Mayo Clinic Medical Edge television story we produced about Janis:

Then in September of this year, the Winnipeg Free Press did a feature on Janis, which they gave a somewhat provocative headline: Miracle mom: Mayo surgeons cut her in half, cleared out her cancer. The story was then picked up throughout Canada, including The Vancouver Sun, and also in the U.S. with Fox News and others.

Janis is now 32 years old, and this morning she joined the Surgical Quality Conference via Skype videoconference, live from her home in Canada. The staff got to watch the video from her live studio appearance on NBC’s Today show. (You really need to watch that story!)

Here is a recording of the Skype conversation Dr. Yaszemski had with Janis after the Today segment was shown:

Thanks to Janis for sharing her story, and to the care team members who did such a good job with her.

Jacob Harpel’s Thanksgiving Story

November 25, 2010

Eight-year-old Jacob Harpel from Glencoe, Minn., was diagnosed with a plum-sized brain tumor the day before Thanksgiving last year. He had aggressive brain surgery at Mayo Clinic in August to remove the tumor; with the surgery he had a 50% chance of losing his peripheral vision on one side and a 50% chance of speech and comprehension deficits. Within 24 hours of the surgery, Jacob was playing the piano at Saint Marys Hospital, and just three days later he went home tumor-free.

This week, exactly a year from the initial diagnosis, Jacob had follow-up appointments at Mayo Clinic — he’s still tumor-free, his vision is 20/20 including peripheral vision, he has no speech or comprehension deficits and he’s seizure-free. It’s quite a different Thanksgiving for the whole Harpel family.

View the videos below to hear the Harpel family tell their story, including their description of playing “Just Dance” on the Wii during Jacob’s video EEG, Jacob saying that the surgery was easy, “I just slept the whole time,” and the support of their family and friends. And as for their Mayo Clinic physicians? Jacob says about Dr. Nicholas Wetjen, his pediatric neurosurgeon – “I LOVE that man!”

MaryEllen’s Journey: Searching For Genetic Clues (Episode 4)

November 24, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missed an episode?

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

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Dr Northfelt on Mayo Clinic’s Cancer Center team

MaryEllen on why she enrolled in a clinical trial

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

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Emma’s gift

November 11, 2010

When offered a choice between a trip to the doctor or a shopping day at the American Girl Store, eight-year-old Emma chose the doctor — hands down. An extraordinary choice, but then, Emma is an extraordinary girl.

Emma and Dr. Svetomir Markovic

This wasn’t to be a typical doctor’s visit. Emma came to Mayo Clinic to surprise Svetomir Markovic, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine, oncology, and Charles F. Mathy Professor in Melanoma. In her hand she held a check for more than $1,000. Money she’d raised for Mayo Clinic melanoma research in his honor.

Emma’s reason for the gift is simple. “It’s because he takes good care of people,” she says. She knows first hand the care of Dr. Markovic. He was her father’s oncologist. Sadly, Emma’s father, David, lost his battle to melanoma on August 28, 2009.

So this year, as Emma’s family of Langdon, North Dakota was preparing to participate in their local American Cancer Society’s 2010 Relay for Life, it was Emma’s job to design t-shirts for their team — Team Scrappy. Emma’s mother explains that her husband, David earned the nickname “Scrappy” in high school when he wrestled.

“He was a fighter,” she says, “And I watched how hard he fought melanoma, so it was an appropriate nickname for him and the perfect name for our team.”

Although Emma says that she never quite “got” the Scrappy team name, it really didn’t matter because it didn’t interfere with the t-shirt design: a red star for Dad, and #1, “because Dad was #1,” she smiles, and the word BELIEVE across the front.

As she designed the t-shirt, Emma got the idea of selling them to raise money for melanoma research at Mayo Clinic, “to help find some answers for people with melanoma,” she says.

Emma wrote a thank you letter that accompanied each t-shirt explaining the project and where she was donating the money. “I miss my daddy very much and think about him all the time,” she wrote. “All the money I raise is going to be given to the Mayo Clinic in honor of my daddy’s doctor, Dr. Markovic.”

Her initial goal was to raise $500, and she more than doubled it.

“This entire story brought tears to my eyes,” says Dr. Markovic. “This is a wonderful family who has had to deal with so much. Some months it seemed they spent more time in Rochester than at home. I’ve known them for a long time.”

“Our favorite topic, once we ‘dealt with cancer,’ was to talk about our children,” says Dr. Markovic. “Our children are of similar age and they always had good parenting tips for me, and so I was overwhelmed when I heard that little Emma had done such a wonderful thing and raised money to help me fix cancer. With help like that, how could we ever lose?”

Even at this young age Emma seems to grasp the importance of caring even if cure is not always possible. She’s honored the caring at Mayo through her gift. More importantly, she’s taken up the torch to support the care of people with the disease and its study. She never misses an opportunity to inform others about melanoma and the dangers of the sun. “Learn to wear a hat,” is one of her mantras.

Her enthusiasm is contagious and her salesmanship . . . well, let me put it this way, she dropped off a check for Dr. Markovic and picked up a t-shirt order from him with sleight of hand a magician would envy.

Having accomplished that, Emma and her cousin, Grace set off to summer camp. With a skip in her step and a smile on her face, she left Dr. Markovic saying she’d be back next year with double the proceedings of this year.

Emma’s story was written by Dianne M. Axen, communications consultant in the Department of Develoment, Mayo Clinic in Minnesota

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine