Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

Mayo Clinic Pathologists Go Bald for Breast Cancer

October 1, 2010

Would you go bald for breast cancer? That was a question that Carol Reynolds, M.D., and Dan Visscher, M.D., Mayo Clinic pathologists, were happy to answer. And answering affirmatively allowed them to send a message of empathy to patients, colleagues, friends and family members who “bear the consequences” of a battle with cancer and encourage their colleagues to contribute to the cause. 

By going bald for breast cancer on Monday, Sept. 14, Drs. Reynolds and Visscher joined a movement among pathologists across the nation determined to raise awareness and research funds for breast cancer awareness month in October. 

The Mayo duo jumped on the bandwagon a month early because they were part of a team who participated in the Join the Journey walk for breast cancer awareness in Rochester, Minn., Sunday, Sept. 19. 

The fundraising clipper fest really took off when Gary Keeney, M.D., chair of Mayo Clinic’s Division of Anatomic Pathology, issued the following challenge: Top the $10,000 mark, and he’d go under the razor, too.

More than 60 colleagues piled into the conference room to see the news-making clips and show their friends some of their finer forms of empathy, which included shout outs, shared laughter and, considering Dr. Keeney’s temporary Mohawk as a result of raising $12,390, some very generous compliments.

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Irma Poznecki – Far from an “ordinary” mom

August 24, 2010

Inspiration comes in many forms – for Irma Poznecki, a 45-year-old mother of three from Anthem, Ariz., it was brownies and cupcakes.

In late 2009, Irma was diagnosed with breast cancer. The news came as an obvious shock to Irma who says she has always been active and healthy. And while she may describe herself as an “ordinary mom,” what she discovered over the next several months was something extraordinary.

The Brownies
Irma is a high energy, busy mom. She works as a substitute teacher and spends a good deal of her time shuttling her own kids from sporting and school events. She is also active in school activities and is president of a group which raises funds to buy school library books. If that isn’t enough, Irma is a leader of her daughter’s Brownie troop. In fact, it was during a Brownie meeting last fall when Irma received some unsettling news.

Following a mammogram and other tests, Irma was anxious to have her pathology results as soon as possible, and asked her doctor to call her with the results as soon as they came in. Her primary care doctor called her from home late that night to make sure she received her results.

“I happened to take my doctor’s call during our Brownie’s Christmas meeting and party,” Irma said. “I walked out of the room, was told I had cancer, and then had to return to the meeting with nine jolly eight-year old girls and most of their moms. I made it through without breaking down.”

After the meeting, Irma talked again at length on the phone with her doctor who thoroughly explained the diagnosis. The news was that she had a slow-growing form of breast cancer called infiltrating ductal carcinoma – the most common type of breast cancer which forms in the lining of a milk duct within the breast.

The doctors at Mayo scheduled a lumpectomy a short time later. Irma said she wasn’t worried because of the trust she had in her doctors, the support of her family and the fact that she is almost constantly in the company of kids.

“It’s amazing how kids feed the positive spirit,” Irma said. “I have to be there for my kids, the Brownies, my students … and it’s reciprocal with kids, they really kept me going and kept me from negative thoughts. I never had those kinds of emotions.”

The Cupcakes
Even though her life is extremely hectic and her dedication to her family is obvious, Irma has been able to do something she feels has helped ease her recovery – create some time for herself. She has always enjoyed athletics and early in 2009 she became involved in a local running club called The Cupcake Runners. The group – recognized on the streets of Anthem by their signature pink T-shirts – was formed by other moms who wanted the camaraderie of exercise. Irma certainly found that with the other “Cupcakes” and much more.

“Saturday morning, the time we run, is my time – just me – I don’t worry about anything else,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be as positive as I am if I didn’t have the Cupcakes.”

Irma says her time with the Cupcakes and having the balance has helped ease her recovery. At the time she was diagnosed, Irma had been training with several other Cupcakes to run an upcoming half marathon. While her surgery was scheduled just a few short weeks before the race, she was determined to run if she could.

Irma’s surgeon at Mayo Clinic, Richard Gray, M.D., says that with this type of procedure, most women can return to normal activities within a few days.
“Although I wouldn’t call training for a half marathon a normal activity,” he said

But Dr. Gray told Irma that if she felt up to it she could do it because exercise has an extremely positive effect on recovery. “…and it was remarkable how quickly she jumped back into it,” he added. “I didn’t think of this as something that would stop me,” Irma said, “it wasn’t even a thought.”

Two weeks after her surgery, Irma crossed the finish line at the P.F. Chang Half Marathon in Phoenix. With her fellow Cupcakes cheering her on during the race, and her kids, students and Brownies inspiring her run, she discovered something extraordinary. “I never knew I had this in me,” Irma said. “And it’s good to know it’s there when I need it.”

Not bad for an “ordinary” mom.

A note about mammograms
Doctors discovered Irma’s cancer during a routine mammogram – one she almost didn’t have.

“During an appointment with Dr. Anne-Marie Warner, she noticed I didn’t have a mammogram on file,” Irma said. “She asked me to have a mammogram but stubborn me told her I’d do it when I turned 46 since I know that statistically my chance of getting breast cancer was minuscule. Plus, I thought about what an inconvenience it would be and how disruptive it would to my busy schedule.

“Thank God, she gently persisted and eventually convinced me to go for the mammogram last year. I will forever be grateful to her!”

Irma’s story was submitted by Jim McVeigh, a communications consultant in Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

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Cured – And Racing for One

May 6, 2010

In this short interview, Beth P., a two-time breast cancer survivor, talks about her battle with the dreaded disease, her experience at Mayo Clinic and her unique role with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure-Minnesota Affiliate.

On Sunday, May 9, Beth will volunteer for her 14th Race for the Cure event since 1996. For more information on the Race for the Cure, visit the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Web site or share your own story (and read a number of others) on the Together for the Cure blog.

Is that a lump? Now what?

October 21, 2009

When there is critical information that we don’t know, we run the risk of listening to hearsay, considering myths to be facts, not knowing the truth, and left to deal with the consequences. When it comes to breast cancer, Mayo Clinic wants you to know.

Please join Mayo Clinic and other Phoenix area community partners for the AZ Breast Cancer Summit, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mayo Clinic has partnered with Sigma Pi Phi to present vital information to increase awareness of breast cancer in African Americans during its Pacific Regional Conference. This free, public event is open to all who are interested in learning more about early detection & genetics in breast cancer, meet professional caregivers and talk with survivors of this disease.

Members of the medical community are coming together with community partners to share knowledge and encourage attendees to take steps toward early detection. Although minority women are less likely than Caucasian women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they tend to develop breast cancer earlier, have more aggressive tumors and too often are diagnosed in later stages. Although most breast changes are not cancerous, it’s important to have them evaluated promptly.

Listen to Aretha Rodger’s story of early detection and how she spends time educating others. (Source: Mayo Clinic Medical Edge, June 2009)

At the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic in Arizona, Mayo physicians diagnose and treat more than 1,300 new patients with breast cancer each year. Through innovative treatment strategies and supportive team care, patients receive effective care with the comfort and trust that they’re receiving the best care possible.

To learn more about the services and available treatment options at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus, and to read patient stories, visit

This story was submitted by Yvette Martin, Recruitment Strategist, Human Resources, Mayo Clinic in AZ

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Arizona Mom Recounts Battling Breast Cancer While Pregnant

October 19, 2009

Joan Dymand-Hintz was in her early 40’s when she became pregnant with her daughter. The happiness she and her husband Marc Hintz felt was short-lived. A week after learning she was pregnant, Joan, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based singer and mother of two sons, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Joan came to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion in hopes she would not have to terminate her pregnancy in order to treat the cancer.

Joan said her Mayo doctors, who included Dr. Donald Northfelt and Dr. Barbara Pockaj, gave her and her family hope. While pregnant, she had a mastectomy on her left breast and began chemotherapy. The Mayo Clinic team worked closely with Joan’s obstetrician from Scottsdale Healthcare.  Joan’s pregnancy was induced a month early so she could resume additional chemotherapy treatment.

The couple’s daughter , Elle Marie Faith, is now 17-months old and a happy and healthy child.

Joan still comes to the breast clinic at Mayo Clinic in Arizona for follow-up care and just started taking part in a clinical trial for a breast cancer vaccine.

Please click below to see Joan share her Mayo Clinic in Arizona experience.

This story was submitted by Julie Janovsky, Public Affairs communications consultant at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

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Surviving Thanks

August 3, 2009

This story was submitted by Nimaat Al Azzah, Breast Cancer Survivor and Mayo Clinic Patient

Life is full of surprises — some are happy and some can flip one’s world all around. In October, on my 37th wedding anniversary, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was looking forward to celebrating this day with my family but with a casual visit to the gynecologist, this dream was shattered. He felt something suspicious on my right breast and arranged for an immediate mammography appointment.

Nimaat AlAzzah

Nimaat AlAzzah

On the day of the mammogram I got dressed like any other day but the fear, anxiety, worrisome was not like any other day. Two of my daughters came along to the lab. After the mammogram, the specialist asked to meet with me and my daughters and told me that I had cancer in my right breast and that I could live for another five years. While she was talking, my eyes were on my daughters — one of them was crying and the other was in shock. As soon as she finished, my motherly instinct was to protect my daughters from the hurt and reassured them that people’s lives and destinies are all in God’s hands, and it is only for God to determine how long each of us will live. I thanked her and left the lab.

Rapid Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: Pam’s Story

April 3, 2009

Pam N from Michigan submitted her story via email this week, saying: “I am sharing my Mayo Clinic story with you in hopes that it will help other women who may be diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Inflammatory Breast Cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer. So a quick diagnosis and treatment is key to long term survival.”

Here is Pam’s story, as she sent it via email:

I had just turned 40 when I noticed slight edema in her left breast where the under wire from my bra was. I didn’t think much more about it that day. But the next day I noticed that it turned slightly red. It was then that I googled “Breast Edema.” Two possibilities came up, both appeared on http://www.MayoClinic.comInflammatory Breast Cancer and Mastitis. I had never heard of either one not ever having any children. But I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t know what it was. I hadn’t even had my 40th birthday mammogram yet!

So I immediately called Mayo Clinic for an appointment where I was promptly seen at the Breast Clinic in Rochester. It was there that I learned that I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer on the same day of my initial consult. This is the most aggressive form of breast cancer and does not present itself until it is in late stages of the disease. So a quick diagnosis and start of treatment is key to survival with this type of breast cancer. The timeframe from the 1st day that I noticed symptoms to my 1st day of chemo was just over a week. I am convinced that the immediate diagnosis and treatment by Mayo Clinic Physicians is the reason that I am alive today and living happily in Michigan with my husband and dog, Betty.

Thanks to Pam for sharing her story!

If you would like to tell yours, see the Share Your Mayo Clinic Story page for options.

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