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Look at Carl White today and you see a busy, content family man. A husband and father of two, Carl recently completed his bachelor's degree and now is pursuing a master's in social work. When he's not in school or studying, you'll likely find him either at his job as a health unit coordinator at Mayo Clinic Hopsital, Saint Marys Campus, in Rochester, Minnesota, or spending time with his family. At first glance, Carl may seem like any typical, hardworking dad. Rewind a few years, though, and you'll understand just how far Carl has come and the enormous struggles he has had to overcome. Back in 2009, Carl was consumed with chronic pain — the result of two serious accidents. He attempted to cope by taking steady doses of strong pain medication, along with a significant amount of alcohol. But it provided little relief. "I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do," Carl says. "Time seemed to go so slowly while waiting for a magic bullet, a new medical breakthrough that would take all the pain away. I believed that all I needed was to have the right surgery or find the right pill, and I would be cured." "I was in constant pain. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. My family was falling apart. I didn't know what to do." Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Angry and discouraged after several years of dealing with the pain, he was not receptive when a doctor at Mayo Clinic referred him to Mayo's Pain Rehabilitation Center.
Josh Russell spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps. But he says his toughest battle took place years after he left the military. In early 2011, Josh noticed a bump in his stomach around his navel. He thought the bump was a hernia, and his doctor initially agreed. Josh was scheduled for surgery, but pre-op blood work revealed surprising news. Russell’s “hernia” was actually a tumor. He had testicular cancer. “I was in shock,” says the Benton, Wisconsin, resident. But he didn’t have time to dwell on that. “I got the news on a Friday and started chemotherapy on Monday.” Four months of treatment did little to slow the cancer. In fact, it was spreading. “I had tumors from my groin to the lower part of my throat,” says Josh, whose prognosis looked grim. “After I finished chemo, they gave me six months to live. They wanted me to go home and start hospice.” But that wasn’t a prognosis that Josh, then just 30 years old, or his family were willing to accept.
A second opinion at Mayo Clinic helped Harold Magy return to the active schedule he loves For years, Harold Magy was familiar with the inner workings of Mayo Clinic. As a mechanical engineer for more than two decades with a company that frequently worked with Mayo, he knew the ins and outs of many of the clinic’s complex mechanical systems in Rochester, Minnesota. But during that time, he was never a patient at Mayo, and he never thought he would be. "I have had heart problems for a long time," says Harold. "I always took care of it with my local doctors. I didn't think about going anywhere else." That changed in the summer of 2013. Harold's health had slowly deteriorated to a point that he had very little energy and spent most of his time at home. His wife, Judy, ultimately insisted he seek another opinion about the best treatment for his heart condition. Today, Harold is extremely grateful for his wife's persistence. Thanks to a revamped treatment plan developed by his physicians at Mayo Clinic, now at age 88, Harold has returned to working and teaching on a regular basis. "Since I went to Mayo Clinic, I've gotten better and better," he says. "I feel mentally sharp, and I'm back to doing what I love."