danasparks

Dana Sparks @danasparks

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Dana Sparks

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mayoclinic.com

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Activity by Dana Sparks @danasparks

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20 hours ago by @danasparks · View  

In the Loop: Transplant Patient Takes Home Gold

HiggonsCurtis805The 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are over and Mayo Clinic lung transplant patient Curtis Higgons is back home in Jacksonville polishing his medals. But he didn't get them in Rio. He earned them during a competition that’s also a pretty big deal: The 2016 Transplant Games of America. "They're set up similar to the Olympic Games," says Curtis, who competed in three events: bowling, darts and Texas Hold-Em poker.

Saying he "competed" might be understating things a bit. "I actually took home four medals," Curtis tells us. "I won gold in Texas Hold-Em and three silvers in bowling — one for individuals, another for doubles, and a third for mixed doubles. It was pretty awesome." We couldn't agree more, especially considering everything Curtis has overcome in his life. Read the rest of  Curtis' story.
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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.

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23 hours ago by @danasparks · View  

Discovery's Edge: Using regenerative medicine to heal open wounds

medical illustration of stem cellsNew research at Mayo Clinic is bringing hope to hundreds of thousands of Crohn’s disease patients. Their extreme pain from complications is both physical and emotional and, for many, incurable. But, an innovation using the patient’s own stem cells seems to work well in early testing.

Watch: Another promising application for stem cells
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3 days ago by @danasparks · View  

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Simultaneous surgeries for heart transplant recipients

transplant patients Michael Tyler and William Tiger shaking handsMichael Tyler and William Tiger didn’t know one another before the summer of 2016. But they now share a unique life event. Both 55-year-olds underwent heart transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus on the same day, at the same time. Completing the simultaneous procedures was a milestone for the Transplant Center team in Arizona, who had not previously been called on to perform more than one heart transplant at a time.

“It was truly remarkable how the team came together,” says transplant coordinator Allison Smith, who said the offers for both hearts came in on a Friday afternoon. Extensive coordination and precise timing were crucial to providing the best possible outcomes for the patients.

“When we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,” she says. Read the rest of their story.
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This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

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5 days ago by @danasparks · View  

Making Mayo's Recipes: Pita Pizza

close up of pita pizza for healthy snack
Are you searching for healthy recipes? Seeking something new for the home menu?

Mayo Clinic is launching a series of easy, healthy recipes created by the executive wellness chef and registered dietitians at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.

Each Thursday one of the 100+ tasty video recipes will be featured on the Mayo Clinic News Network, just in time for you to try at the weekend. You can also have the recipes delivered via the Mayo Clinic App.

It only takes 30 minutes to make this whole-wheat pita pizza, topped with mushrooms, pineapple, bell peppers, feta cheese and bacon bits. You can double the batch and place uncooked prepared pizzas in the freezer.

Watch: Pita Pizza

Journalists: The broadcast-quality video (:58) is in the downloads.

Created by the executive wellness chef and registered dietitians at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. Find more recipes and other healthy-living insights on the Mayo Clinic App.

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6 days ago by @danasparks · View  

Something to Think About: Telling sweet from sour

close up of a freshly sliced mango fruit

How to deal with difficult people.

Dear friend,

I have had a very long love affair with mangoes. Yet I can’t always tell the sweet ones from the sour. Color isn’t always a good guide. Some mangoes are perfectly ripe when green; others turn yellow, orange, or red by the time their mealy starches turn into simple sugars. Fragrance and consistency are a bit more reliable. A perfectly ripe one often has an appetizing, sweet fragrance, particularly near the stem end. A mango turning from firm to soft also provides a helpful hint. Of all the tests, however, the most definitive is the obvious one—eat a slice. I either taste heaven or regret the loss of a dollar.

My most common response to a sour mango is to escort it to the garbage can, wash my mouth, and try the next one, hoping it will be lush with fructose. I keep trying until I find one that is willing to pamper my palate.

I wonder if our relationships are also like that. Many of your colleagues, friends, and loved ones are sweet, but some are definitely sour. You can’t spot the sour ones ahead of time. When you face such people, you minimize the time you spend with them, try your best so they don’t linger in your mind, and as soon as the opportunity presents itself, move on to someone sweeter.

But what to do with those sour ones you cannot avoid? They may be close family members or neighbors. If you are hungry and have nothing but sour mangoes to eat, what are you going to do? Here is what I do.

I sprinkle the slices with sugar or honey. I know the sour taste won’t go away, but I’ll feel less of it. The slices become more palatable. Most manufacturers of syrupy preparations for children know this trick very well.

On sour people you sprinkle the honey of gratitude, compassion, acceptance, and forgiveness, recognizing and knowing fully well that their inherent nature is unlikely to change.

I wish the world was perfect and every mango was fully ripe. But the world isn’t perfect, and none of us will escape facing sour specimens. With over four hundred varieties of mangoes on the market, I will run into the unpleasant ones once in a while. My only option is to avoid the sour mangoes best I can, savor the sweet, ripe ones, and if I’m faced with a sour one that I can’t avoid, sprinkle some sugar or honey on it.

May you have few or no difficult people in your life; may the difficult people not usurp your hope or lower your values.

Take care.
Amit

Dr. Sood 2

Read Sweet Mangoes and previous blog posts.

Also, follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.

Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.
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Wed, Aug 17 at 1:00pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Sports Fitness: Tuning Up the Human Machine

Infographic for Tuning Up the Human Machine

Learn more about sports fitness.
Other health tip infographics:
mayohealthhighlights.startribune.com 

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Tue, Aug 16 at 5:31pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

In the Loop: Let Them Eat Dirt (or At least play in It)

a little girl playing on a dirt road in the mudCleanliness is next to godliness. Just ask any parent kneeling before a new baby. Suddenly, the world and all its filthy surfaces — not to mention its filthy humans — seem teeming with danger. To protect their precious progeny, many parents discover a clean gene they didn't know they had. A baby arrives, and the guy who used to live by the five-second rule begins offering hand-washing tutorials and doling out hand sanitizer. But according to an article in the Chicago Tribune, a little dirt never hurts. And it turns out, it just may help — especially those five and under.

"Early exposure to their environment full of germs, bacteria and viruses is not a bad thing," Angela Mattke, M.D., tells the paper. Dr. Mattke, a pediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, notes that parents "are very concerned, almost preoccupied, with their child touching a surface that is not clean." But it turns out that early exposure to the dirtier stuff in life — things like "bacteria and other microbes" — can actually be "crucial to our health." That's because "beneficial microbiota helps build immunity in babies and children, and has a role in preventing allergies, asthma, obesity and other noninfectious conditions," according to the paper. Read the rest of the article.
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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.

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Tue, Aug 16 at 3:00pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Discovery's Edge: Just-in-Time Technology Saves Patients

Discovery's Edge medical illustrations of aortic-aneurysmArthur Poll was visiting family in Tucson, Ariz., when he felt a sharp pain in his left kidney one evening. The next day he saw a doctor, who scanned his abdomen.

“He said I’ve got good news and bad news for you,” recalls Poll. “The good news is you don’t have kidney stones. The bad news is you’ve got worse than that. You have something we cannot fix.”Discovery's Edge patient Arthur PollThe 88-year-old had an aortic aneurysm, a balloon-like bulge in the largest artery in the body, which carries oxygenated blood to most of the body’s organs. The aorta normally measures 2 to 3 centimeters across. An aneurysm measuring 5 centimeters in women, 5.5 centimeters in men, is a candidate for surgery. Poll’s measured 12 centimeters —nearly 5 inches.Discovery's Edge medical illustration of aortic-aneurysm“He said it’s the biggest he’s ever seen,” says Poll. The doctor called it “Inoperable, terminal, at risk of rupturing at any time.” He told Poll he should enter hospice. “He said I can’t help you any,” says Poll. “They wrote me off.” Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.
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Mon, Aug 15 at 12:11pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Safe Sleeping Space for Babies

baby sleeping on his back in a crib with blue sheets

Many parents and caregivers are placing babies in unsafe sleeping environments associated with increased risks of death. That's according to a new report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mayo Clinic pediatrician Dr. Robert Jacobson says, "This study points out what many of us fear. Parents are failing to take the necessary steps to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS." While Dr. Jacobson was not involved with the study, he says he supports its recommendations. "Babies need to be placed on the back for every nap and every night until the baby is 1 year old. No blankets, no bumpers, no pillows, no stuffy animals, but always on a firm, authentic baby crib mattress!"

Read more about SIDS prevention.

Other studies have relied on self-reported surveys or police reports after an infant's death but this report incorporated video recordings which provide a window into parental behavior during the night.


For the study, “Nocturnal Video Assessment of Infant Sleep Environments,” in the September 2016 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 15), researchers video-recorded infants at ages 1, 3 and 6 months within family homes. Most parents, even when aware of being recorded, placed the infants in environments with established risk factors for sleep-related infant deaths, including positioning the children on their sides or stomachs; soft sleep surface; loose bedding; or bed-sharing. - American Academy of Pediatrics.


 

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Sun, Aug 14 at 6:14pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Double Lung Transplant Recipient Beats Cystic Fibrosis

BolerjackTammy

When Tammy Bolerjack was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 18, she found herself frequently in and out of hospitals for treatments to help her breathe. Running 5K races and half-marathons certainly wasn’t something she envisioned in her future. Little did she know then that eventually a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic'sFlorida campus would not only allow her to breath normally, but would motivate her to become a fitness enthusiast and a competitive runner.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs and digestive system. It affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive secretions. Normally thin and slippery, those secretions serve as lubricants in the body. In people with cystic fibrosis, however, the secretions are thick and sticky, clogging airways, tubes and passageways in the lungs and pancreas.

In more than 75 percent of patients diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, the disease is identified by age two. As the condition progresses, trips to the hospital usually become more frequent because the secretions need to be cleared to allow normal breathing. When the disease gets to a critical point, a lung transplant often is the only treatment option. Read the rest of Tammy's story.
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This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

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Thu, Aug 11 at 4:39pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Making Mayo's Recipes: Strawberry Mockarita

fresh strawberries on a table with sprinkled sugar
Are you searching for healthy recipes? Seeking something new for the home menu?

Mayo Clinic is launching a series of easy, healthy recipes created by the executive wellness chef and registered dietitians at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.

Each Thursday one of the 100 tasty video recipes will be featured on the Mayo Clinic News Network, just in time for you to try at the weekend. You can also have the recipes delivered via the Mayo Clinic App.

Today's recipe is a nonalcoholic cocktail that could be a festive way to start or end your meal.

Watch: Strawberry Mockarita

Journalists: The broadcast-quality video (:36) is in the downloads.

Created by the executive wellness chef and registered dietitians at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. Find more recipes and other healthy-living insights on the Mayo Clinic App.

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Thu, Aug 11 at 1:17pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Something to Think About: Do Not Hurt Yourself

a young girl sitting on a couch sad, upset about being left out friends in background talking
Do not let hatred, envy, revenge, or anger (HERA) stay in any corner of your being.

Dear friend,

Hera was the wife and sister of Zeus, the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion. Hera was known for her jealousy and vengeance, which came partly as a reaction to Zeus’s infidelity. The difficulties Hera faced weren’t unique to her life or her times. Many of us face difficult interpersonal situations that awaken a different Hera within us—the Hera of Hatred, Envy, Revenge, and Anger (the anger that produces violent rage). Research shows this HERA predisposes us to a multitude of medical conditions.

Just as a physical body fighting an external infectious agent becomes inflamed and injured, and a country at war finds it difficult to keep its citizens peaceful, when we intend to hurt others—either because they hurt us or because we feel hatred or envy—we hurt ourselves. Research shows a mind fighting itself or others predisposes the physical body to cardiovascular disease, cancer, infections, inflammation, dementia, and even premature death. In one of my workshops on forgiveness, a participant got up in the middle and said, “I can’t give my ex the power to increase my risk of dementia. That’s a good enough reason to forgive him, as much as I hate to do that.”

The other reason HERA damages our system is that once we are mired in the habit of getting angry, feeling hatred, harboring envy, or seeking revenge with one person, we deploy these missiles to the rest of the world. We paint the world with our negativity and seek out reasons to validate our inner negative feelings. These feelings start defining our life’s course. Locked in the HERA prison, we start despising the world, jeopardizing our peace and even our very existence.

HERA often sneaks in from an unguarded corner of the mind, when you aren’t watching. It then multiplies, like a newly hatched virus against which you have no immunity. Carefully guard your mind—not just its living room, but also its attic, basement, and backyard—from any elements of HERA and sweep it clean when you find these hatching. Crowd your space with the antidotes—gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness. Transform your negative thoughts so they surrender to these higher values.

When you convert your hatred into compassion, envy into inspiration, revenge into forgiveness, and anger into acceptance, you’ll save yourself and the people you love from much suffering.

May you create a beautiful day by sweeping your mind clean of any hatred, envy, revenge, and anger.

Take care.
Amit

Dr. Sood 2

Read Do Not Hurt Yourself and previous blog posts.

Also, follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.

Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.
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Wed, Aug 10 at 1:15pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Time to Burn: Get Moving for a More Active Lifestyle

Hour-Weight_TimeToBurn_ReRun_6.9.2016_nosponsor

Other health tip infographics:
mayohealthhighlights.startribune.com 

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Tue, Aug 9 at 5:32pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Discovery's Edge: New Stents for Complex Aortic Aneurysms

medial illustration of stent procedure175,000 deaths are reported each year around the world, due to aortic aneurysms. When the largest blood vessel in the body, the aorta, dilates like an overstretched balloon it can be life-threatening.

Mayo Clinic vascular surgeon Gustavo Oderich, M.D., and his team are helping to develop new stents for complex aortic aneurysms and recently used it to treat the first patient in the United States.

Find more research news on Discovery's Edge.

Journalists: Broadcast quality video is in the downloads.

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Tue, Aug 9 at 2:00pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

In the Loop: Andrew Yori, Mayo's Own K-9 Ninja!

Mayo Clinic employee Andrew Yori on Ninja TV showAndrew Yori doesn't strike us as a gambling man. But if he were, we're guessing he might have bet against himself making it to the American Ninja Warrior finals in Las Vegas. As we've reported, Andrew, a lab technician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, was thrilled just to make it to the Indianapolis qualifier. "This was my rookie year on the show, and so nobody really knew who I was," he tells us. "I felt like I needed to prove myself." And prove himself he did. He crushed the course, launching himself into the Indianapolis city finals.

That episode aired last week. And for Andrew's fans, it was a nail biter. Fifteen contestants would move on to the finals in Las Vegas. And with one contestant yet to run the course, Andrew was in 15th place. Standing between him and a ticket to Sin City was Lorin Ball, a five-time finalist who has posted some of the fastest course times on the show. "I was fully expecting to watch Lorin beat me and to be sent home," Andrew tells us. Instead, Lorin fell on the second obstacle of the course — guaranteeing Andrew a spot in the Vegas finals. As his reaction in this clip suggests, he was "shocked" by the turn of events. "It wasn't really the way that I wanted to advance, but falls are part of the show, so I'll take it," he tells us. Read the rest of Andrew's story.
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This story originally appeared on the In the Loop blog.

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Sun, Aug 7 at 4:51pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Palliative Care and Farmer’s Outdoor Passion

Roger and Sally Conklin standing by a tractor in a farm field
Roger Conklin has a passion for being outdoors. A tree farmer for more than 50 years, Roger looks forward to the changing seasons and experiencing the cycle of planting, growing and harvesting.

Over the last two decades, however, health concerns have made his outdoor activities more challenging. During that time, Roger has undergone hip and knee replacement, been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and faced additional health issues related to his heart and lungs.

Medical care from his team at Mayo Clinic Health System, along with support from a large circle of family and friends, have seen him through each of these obstacles. And in October 2014, a new feature was added to the mix when Mayo Clinic Health System Palliative and Supportive Care Service became part of Roger’s care team, too.

Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with a serious illness. It focuses on providing relief from symptoms and stress. The mission of the palliative care team is to support patients and their families, so patients are able to live as well as possible. It was just the right fit for Roger's needs.

Read the rest of Roger's story.
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This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

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Thu, Aug 4 at 7:21pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Advancing the Science on #Kiliclimb2016

long distance photo of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa

The core group of Mayo Clinic researchers that moved their lab to the base camp at Mount Everest to study heart disease and aging are at it again, this time in Africa. Along with a party of nearly 35, they will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, obtaining scientific data from the climbers along the way.

Led by Mayo physiologist Bruce Johnson, Ph.D. and joined by Amine Issa, Ph.D., Courtney Wheatley, Ph.D., and Jan Stepanek, M.D., among others, the group will monitor climbers’ heart rates, oxygen saturation, movement, energy expenditure, skin temperature and the quality of their sleep. They’ll also conduct ultrasound scanning to determine differences in younger and older climbers as they react to the altitude.

“It’s about comparing heart and lung function in this natural laboratory,” says Dr. Issa, who was part of the group on Everest. “We want to check on limitations to their functioning and whether or not a vitamin B3 supplement can help them.” Read: "Mayo Clinic Takes Medical Research to Kilimanjaro" on Advancing the Science blog.

Follow #Kiliclimb2016

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Thu, Aug 4 at 6:30pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

It's The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival in Eau Claire

half moon

Mayo Clinic Health System to host second annual Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival 

  • What: Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival by Mayo Clinic Health System
  • Where: Half Moon Beach in Eau Claire
  • When: Saturday, Aug. 6
    • 9 a.m. — Qualifying races
    • 11:15 a.m. — Opening ceremony and parade
    • 12 p.m. — Semifinal races
    • 2:15 p.m. — Remembrance ceremony
    • 2:45 p.m. — Final races
    • 5 p.m. — Team medals and awards presentation
  • Cost: The free event will feature music and kid’s activities. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase.
  • Supporting: The event will raise awareness of hospice care.
  • Details:
    • Fifty-two teams, comprised of more than 1,300 members are competing, many with a personal connection to hospice.
    • Each team has 21 participants, including 20 paddlers and one drummer. A steersperson also is provided for each team.
    • Race course is 250 meters, and each race lasts less than two minutes.

Read more about the activities.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dan Lea, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs,
507-284-5005, [email protected]

Mayo Clinic Health System graphic with patient pictures and logo

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Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in 60 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.

 

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Thu, Aug 4 at 2:25pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Something to Think About: Compassion and Suffering

a homeless man holding out his hands for help

Let suffering, personal or witnessed, evoke compassion, until you reach a point where your compassion is spontaneous without the need for suffering.

Dear friend,

Suffering, personal or witnessed, often leaves a residue. That residue could be a painful scar that invades many future conscious moments. This scar takes away hope, crushes trust, and makes you fearful and paranoid. An event of suffering thus can seed a lifetime of unhappiness. Different names capture this ongoing suffering—post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic stress, battle fatigue, burnout, and more.

The residue could also lead to a changed worldview. One engages with life in all its richness and becomes gentler and more patient. Relationships improve, priorities change, and newer possibilities emerge. This new perspective recognizes each moment without suffering as precious and transient. One becomes stronger and more resilient to future suffering. Such resilience doesn’t lead one back to just the baseline; it raises the baseline—one grows as a result of the tumble. No wonder some experts call this phenomenon post-traumatic growth.

It is important to recognize that trauma itself doesn’t lead to growth. Trauma wakes up the individual to recruit greater inner resources and develop a more mature viewpoint to start on the growth trajectory. Further, growth itself doesn’t guarantee an end to pain; growth and pain often coexist, although the pain amid growth feels more tolerable.

How can you “choose” the growth trajectory? The more intentional you are about how you look at your adversity, particularly in its early, delicate phase, the greater the likelihood of growth. Learning to find the right within the wrong, accepting that some adversities are part of life, and trying to find meaning in adversity are useful first steps. Having caring people around you who are willing to listen and provide a wise counsel greatly helps.

Adversity-stimulated growth preserves hope. Such growth doesn’t let adversity diminish the light of compassion within you. Adversity kindles stronger compassion.

Initially, such compassion extends only to those one knows are suffering. Gradually one breaks this barrier and recognizes that the list of suffering people includes everyone, even those who may have knowingly or unknowingly caused suffering.

That land is blessed where compassion thrives without the personal experience of suffering. Most places on earth, however, need suffering to evoke compassion.

Suffering that doesn’t evoke compassion may not fulfill its potential purpose. We should create a world where compassion sprouts without the need for suffering. Until we reach it, let suffering create, not a scar, but a mind that is willing to give and receive kindness.

May you never suffer; may your suffering make you stronger and kinder.

Take care.

Amit

Dr. Sood 2

Read Compassion and Suffering and previous blog posts.

Also, follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.

Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program on Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in Minnesota. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.
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Tue, Aug 2 at 5:22pm EDT by @danasparks · View  

Discovery's Edge: A Foundation of Cancer Research

Immune response in metastatic melanoma – The image shows three different levels of tumor infiltration or anti-cancer immune response in treatment. The first image shows an area with almost no infiltrating immune cells (blue). The second demonstrates moderate infiltration. The third shows an area of tumor with widespread immune infiltrationOn August 20, 2015, former president Jimmy Carter announced he was battling metastatic melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Doctors removed a one-inch mass from his liver, only to find the cancer had spread to four different spots in his brain. They treated him with surgery and radiation, plus a new drug designed to reinvigorate his immune system against the remaining cancer cells. Less than seven months later, doctors declared the 91 year-old cancer-free and stopped his treatment.

Dr. Dong was a recent guest of President Jimmy Carter. Photo by the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia

Dr. Dong was a recent guest of President Jimmy Carter. Photo by the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia

He credits his successful recovery to immunotherapy. This type of drug treatment prompts the body’s immune system to refocus itself on fighting cancer and while these advances are new, the idea of immunotherapy is not. Some of the foundational discoveries were made nearly two decades ago in a series of experiments performed by Mayo Clinic researchers, including Haidong Dong, Ph.D., under the direction of Lieping Chen, M.D., Ph.D., (now at Yale). Read the rest of the article on Discovery's Edge.
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