Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Celebrating a 5-year milestone after breast cancer diagnosis

October 12, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our organizational heart is our competitive advantage

February 1, 2010

In late 2009, Mayo Clinic was named an America’s Best Hospital by U.S. News & World Report. Patients who were surveyed said Mayo’s nursing staff in Phoenix, Arizona, “always listen carefully, give clear explanations and are courteous.”

Barbara, a registered nurse at Mayo’s hospital in Phoenix, shares her perspective on our competitive advantage below:

Following a recent Phoenix Coyotes game, my husband and I were waiting in line for a table at a restaurant close to the hockey arena. An elderly couple, Bill and Elaine, sat down next to us at the bar. During our conversation, we learned that they were from Winnipeg and have spent each winter in Phoenix for more than a decade. When I asked why they chose Arizona, Bill quickly responded, “Mayo Clinic.” Elaine smiled and added, “… and the hockey.” And ever since their team relocated to Phoenix, they’ve made it a point to never miss a “home game.”

It was during the winter of 1999 that Elaine began having chest discomfort during the games. It turns out that she, like myself, is a loyal fan who takes her hockey seriously.

A friend told them about a local Mayo Clinic primary care office and Elaine made an appointment since the “discomfort had become more bothersome.” After an EKG was done, the doctor called an ambulance and sent her immediately to the emergency department — she was having a heart attack.

They both expressed gratitude for Mayo Clinic and the care provided there. Bill remembered, “those were some of the smartest, kindest people I’ve ever met … they saved my bride. We’ll never go anywhere else.” At that moment my husband got a page – our table was ready. We said our good-byes and shared good wishes for our hockey team that brought us together that evening.

Fan loyalty. Not easy to earn and even harder to sustain. Yet once your heart is engaged, loyalty will propel you thousands of miles outside your comfort zone. Your priorities shift and you keep coming back for more. Bill and Elaine are only two of Mayo Clinic’s loyal fans among millions across the globe.

Recently, through a satisfaction survey, patients named Mayo Clinic, the top hospital for nursing care in U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Hospitals ranking. Mayo Clinic Hospital shines and carries on the tradition founded by the Mayo family over a century ago: the needs of the patient are the only needs to be considered. A cornerstone that guides our decision-making is “business as usual.” Among the many honors and accolades received by our organization by peers or colleagues, this distinction demonstrates that patients feel that they are our priority.

It is often a smile, a hand on the shoulder or the shared tears of our compassionate staff members that patients and their loved ones remember long after they have left us. In our inherently stressful, emotionally charged environment, often it’s not what patients hear us say, but how they feel when they’re in our presence. They can sense our dedication and caring as we support them on their healing journey. In my opinion, it’s our “organizational heart” that sets us apart from our counterparts.

As patients of Mayo Clinic, my husband and I have consistently received quality care delivered by professionals who serve as exceptional ambassadors of the Mayo Clinic name. We’re grateful to each staff member who has cared for us over the years. And we agree with Bill and Elaine – “we’ll never go anywhere else.” In the same way, I’ve worked in several hospitals during my 25-year R.N. career and realize that work relationships are crucial to job satisfaction and retention. I feel privileged to be part of a team of professionals — a family, who offers our patients innovative, evidence-based health care while always keeping in mind the art and heart, of healing.

To learn more about the rankings of our Arizona, Minnesota and Florida locations, visit the U.S. News & World Report web site.

This post was submitted by Phyllis Y. (Yvette) Martin, a recruitment strategist in human resources, Mayo Clinic, Arizona.

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RWETHEREYET is Living Well in Arizona

July 28, 2009

Approximately two to three times each year, Mayo Clinic employees are given the opportunity to participate in “Walk to Wellness,” a walking campaign designed to encourage employees to dedicate time to fitness walking and to improve their overall health.

This past spring, I decided to join the Arizona Employment Team’s walking group, RWETHEREYET, to put my walking to the test. I am proud to say that I met my goal of 400 minutes in just seven days and by May 4, I’d logged 1,020 minutes of walking! Who knew I had 1,020 minutes in four weeks to dedicate to walking? I sure didn’t.

I know what you are thinking, “I definitely don’t have 1,020 minutes in four weeks to walk … she’s crazy!” but it really is fairly easy. Our group leader, Yvette Martin, sent us fitness/walking tips each day. Yvette’s tips were so simple to follow that they made walking easy and fun. For example, “walk your dog and if you don’t have one, rescue one from a local shelter” or “take the stairs to your next meeting instead of the elevator.”

Yvette also organized a scavenger hunt for our group. The scavenger hunt included items such as, “how many tables are on the patio outside the cafeteria” and “what is the license plate number of the red Mercedes in the employee parking lot.” Many of our group members completed the entire scavenger hunt by using their lunch and break times to find each item. By simply walking on one 10-minute break each weekday for a month, you can walk a total of 200 minutes per month! It really is that simple.

Our group’s goal was 400,000 steps in a month, but we were able to log 597,974 steps! If we can do it, you can do it. I challenge you to see how many minutes, or steps, you can walk in a month. Good luck!

Bethany M. Rattray works in Human Resources on the Phoenix campus in Arizona

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Date Night

June 26, 2009

‘Date Night’ Takes on New Meaning for Heart Patient at Mayo Clinic in Arizona

It would be hard to ignore the elephant in the room.

This “elephant” happens to be the 400-pound artificial heart machine that is keeping alive a very special patient at Mayo Clinic in Arizona — a 41-year-old husband and father of three whose heart was so damaged it had to be totally removed. The heart machine, called the Total Artificial Heart, then took over. It replaces the human heart and pumps up to 9.5 liters of blood per minute to save the lives of patients experiencing end-stage heart failure.

"Big  Blue," the artificial heart

"Big Blue," the artificial heart

The human heart may have been replaced, but not the human spirit.

Mayo patient Charles Okeke is setting records. He has been on the Total Artificial Heart for nearly 250 days and courageously goes about life as best he can while being an inpatient at Mayo Clinic Hospital all that time. His is a complex case in that his body produces antibodies that make it challenging to be a good match for a donor heart. Still, he works out at physical therapy, using the treadmill, stationary bike and lifting weights. He is in remarkably good shape. He is as mobile as he can be, tethered to the machine and often can be seen having lunch or dinner in the hospital cafeteria, with staff at his side.

It is no small task to move the machine from point A to point B.

The “room” this time was the back cafeteria at the hospital, a place that on a recent Saturday evening was transformed into a serene respite from the 24-hour daily reality faced by Charles, who relies on the machine to function and to keep in close touch with his wife of 11 years, Natalie, and their three children, Cecilia, 8; Jacqueline, 5 and Dominick, 3.

Natalie and Charles dressed for the special occasion; Natalie in a lovely white sun dress and Charles in a blue and white tropical shirt.

Mayo patient, Charles Okeke and wife, natalie, enjoy a respite from health challenges

Mayo patient, Charles Okeke and wife, Natalie, enjoy a respite from health challenges

That night was set aside to be a “dinner and a movie” date night for Charles and Natalie, the brainchild of Francisco Arabia, M.D., Mayo’s Chair, Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. Many others were delighted to participate in making the night a special one for the couple, from the hors d’oeuvres served on the cafeteria patio to the flowers on the beautifully set table, to “candles,” to, yes, even a beverage of their choice. The Food and Nutrition Services staff went all out and their pride was obvious as they prepared and served the elegant meal for the couple.

The special menu? Lobster quesadillas with cilantro cream and a side of tropical fruit avocado salsa. Sonoma coast salad with pears, walnuts, cranberries and gorgonzola cheese, topped with champagne vinaigrette. Pork tenderloin medallions with wild mushroom sauce. Three-cheese potato gratin and a side of roasted baby carrots and asparagus. And, specially requested by Charles,
7-up pound cake for dessert, festooned with mixed berries.

Not exactly your standard-issue cafeteria food.

At last, Charles and Natalie had some welcomed privacy. They laughed, talked and shared stories. After dinner, they took their place on a comfortable leather sofa in the same room to watch the movie. They chose “Yes Man,” starring Jim Carrey. In front of them was a bowl of popcorn and all the requisite movie theater treats — boxes of Dots, Junior Mints and the like.

Charles was asked, point-blank, what it was like to be a patient for that many days at Mayo Clinic Hospital — was it like a prison sentence? His response was candid. He described it as “like being in prison, but with very nice guards.”

Charles remains introspective about his challenges, noting he takes his situation day by day, “just enjoying the people around me — just enjoying the ride.” Should that day come in the near future when a portable version of the Total Artificial Heart becomes available, it may well be possible for him to go home, something Natalie looks forward to. “I want my husband to be around my kids, raising them. We want some laughing moments,” she says.

Lynn Closway is a communications consultant in Public Affairs, Mayo Clinic Arizona

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Sinatra guy

June 19, 2009

This particular morning, as I made my rounds, I knew I had to hold up my end of the deal as I approached the door of my last patient of the morning. I had not seen him for a few days, and the last day I had with him he was not feeling well at all. “Next time we meet, I will take you out to see the daylight, I promise.” He pointed a tired, but determined finger at me “you better keep your word!”

Today was the day I would take him downstairs to see the morning sky, to hear the birds chirping, to smell the early morning air. But, first things first. Clothes. Real clothes. No hospital gown for my favorite patient whom I had dubbed “Sinatra Guy.” He had the eyes, attitude, and personality of the beloved star and one could not help to see a little Sinatra “spark” in those mischievous eyes. He had been with us for quite some time, and now, as he recovered from the last leg of his journey in the hospital he wanted so badly to be in real clothes and to go outside for the first time in a long time. (more…)

License Plates

June 8, 2009

It’s 5:04 p.m. on a normal Tuesday afternoon. The parking lot is starting to empty and the exits on the Mayo Clinic Arizona campus are busy. I am anxious to get home after a long work day, but while waiting in line to turn right onto 56th Street, I am reminded of the pride we all take in working here.

Directly in front of me are two cars with personalized license plates that say “I SCRUB” and “HAPPYRN.” Even when hurrying home, you can see the pride our Mayo Clinic employees have for the work that they do!

Submitted by: Jacqueline Thesling, Arizona Human Resources

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Mayo Clinic Scores Top Wins in 6th Annual Dragon Boat Festival

April 7, 2009

Lynn Closway works in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Public Affairs, and wrote this post as a spectator. For an account from one of Synchronicity’s rowers, see Yvette Martin’s related post below.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If you happen to be one of the 76 teams that DIDN’T score the coveted first place in three of the top categories at the 6th Arizona Annual Dragon Boat Festival March 28 and 29, that is.

Seeing Red! Mayo paddlers prepare to give it their all!

Seeing Red! Mayo paddlers prepare to give it their all!

Be afraid for what next year may hold!

Team Mayo Clinic in Arizona easily reclaimed the corporate championship by placing number one (gold) in the 500-meter race and was the hands-down first-place winner in both the “Cheer” and “Team Spirit” categories. Mayo also took a third-place (bronze) win in the “Mixed Team – Division C” category, comprising both men and women paddlers.