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Most of us have known someone with cancer, either in our family or with a friend or an acquaintance. But cancer can be particularly cruel when it seems to target a specific family over and over again. For the Zepeda family of Miami, cancer has stricken a mother, her daughter, a number of other family members, and even the family dog. Yadira Zepeda, a 67-year-old mother of four adult children, was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1991 and was told by her physician in Miami that she probably had two to four months to live. Not satisfied with what she heard and unwilling to give up after receiving that devastating news, at a friend’s recommendation she came to Mayo Clinic's Florida campus for the second opinion that has given her life and hope for the past 24 years. “My Mayo physician for many years, Gerardo Colon-Otero, M.D., said at the time that while my condition was serious and that he couldn’t promise me a miracle, we would fight my disease with every available option, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and eventually with a bone marrow transplant which I received in 1994,” Yadira says. “While it’s been a long battle, including visits to Mayo every three months for many years, my condition has stabilized, and I’m still living my life, and I am able to enjoy my family long after I wasn’t supposed to be here.” Yadira’s own battle with cancer took a back seat when in June 2008 her daughter Valeria was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia after unexplained bruises began appearing on her legs and arms. Based on her mother’s experience, Valeria went to Mayo Clinic and began receiving targeted chemotherapy for her disease.
Marla Burkhart's story dates back to 2009, when she underwent an emergency cesarean section at Mayo Clinic eight weeks before her due date. Before the surgery took place, doctors discovered that Marla had a condition called peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition that occurs in about 1 in 3,000 deliveries and causes inefficient blood circulation. Despite the complications, however, Marla delivered a healthy baby boy named Noah.
Michael Slag holds in his hands a tumor – or rather a 3-D print of the actual tumor that is growing at the top of his right lung. Doctors are using the 3-D printed model to aid them in planning the complex surgery to remove Michael’s tumor. Mayo Clinic doctors diagnosed Michael with a rare form of lung cancer known as Pancoast tumor, a condition so rare that Mayo Clinic has only seen 60 cases in the past 20 years.
Scott Gunderson is a typical working father of three young children. His days typically are full of meetings, play dates, golf games and helping manage his busy family’s calendar. You likely wouldn't guess that the 38-year-old from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is a stroke survivor and heart valve patient.
Andrea Liptac describes her journey to Mayo Clinic as a "winding road." She first learned about Mayo in the early 1990s, when she was living in Montana with her family. At that time, her mother, Kelli Liptac, was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, and was referred to a specialist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. Her chronic conditions would warrant multiple trips to Rochester over the years. She would ultimately land on the heart transplant list. As Andrea approached college graduation in 2004 and began to consider where to apply her education as a laboratory technologist, she recalled her mother's visits to Rochester. "My mom's treatment at Mayo Clinic indirectly influenced my decision to work here," Andrea recalls. She applied to work as a laboratory technician in the Protein Immunology Laboratory at Mayo and has remained in that role ever since. Unfortunately, Andrea's Mayo Clinic experience went beyond her employment. She would learn she and her mother shared more in common than she knew, leading her on a a surprising and difficult journey she says gave her a different perspective on Mayo Clinic and a new understanding of the patient experience.
When 29-year-old Cameron Mullis of Jacksonville, Florida, was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy and told he’d need a kidney transplant, he was facing the likelihood of ...
It's tempting to describe Sonya "Sunny" Johnson, a retired Mayo Clinic nurse, as a poster child for successful weight loss surgery. Cliché or not, she readily accepts the moniker as a point of pride. In fact, these days, when Sunny passes a mirror, she asks herself, "Who is that?" Her ambitious journey to weight loss began in December 2010. This time, she vowed, she was ready. Like many dieters, Sunny had endured her share of stops and starts with popular weight loss plans. "My weight went up and down, and again up and down," she says. "But when I retired, my excuses were used up. I thought, okay, this is my turn to take care of me." At that point, she says, the scale read 254 pounds.