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You never know how an experience – even a negative experience – can shape the rest of your life. Decades ago, when Jane Applen-Anderson came to Mayo Clinic Hospital, Methodist Campus, in Rochester with her leg swollen to three times its usual size, she wasn’t thinking about what good could come out of it. She would come to learn she’d been bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider. Mayo Clinic doctors treated her infection, removed the dead tissue, and worked to repair the damage done. They saved her leg, and they saved her life. That was just the first time. While in the hospital, Jane was informed that tests showed her type 1 diabetes needed to be regulated more closely. Otherwise, she could lose her kidney function and her vision within the next year. Refusing to let the condition bring her down, Jane carefully followed her diabetes self-care plan. “You have to be a responsible patient, and do your part to follow your care plan,” she says.
There are certain sounds that Scott Malmstrom had never known. He was born with hearing impairment, and it gradually got worse throughout his life. By fourth grade, he began experimenting with hearing aids. Over time, he became what he calls a “professional lip reader.” Hearing aids didn’t help much with the type of hearing loss Scott had. “Where he struggled was speech discrimination – being able to recognize and understand what's being said,” he says. “That's where they eyes take over. That's what I've done over many years and became very good at it.” But his diminished hearing did keep him from experiencing certain things, and he says it affected his communication with those he loved. Today, through the magic of cochlear implants, Scott is hearing new things and experiencing life in a way he hadn’t quite imagined.
Carly Edgar faced a mystery illness, the baffling effects of a rare autoimmune disease, and the prospect of reconstructive surgery, but she found hope and help at Mayo Clinic. In January 2013, Carly Edgar, an otherwise healthy 20-something, found herself in the hospital and in severe pain. The pain seemed to originate from near one of her ribs, but her local doctors couldn’t identify the source. She spent a week in the hospital without any answer. She was released, but it wasn’t long until she was back again. Carly rated her pain at 10 on a 10-point scale, but doctors started to doubt her symptoms. They gave her pain medicine, but they also recommended antidepressants. When her boyfriend noticed a bump forming on her nose, she was told it was likely just a pimple. After a second week in the hospital, with things only looking worse, Carly asked to be discharged, and she and her boyfriend traveled to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, in search of answers. Within a few days, Carly had her surprising answer – a rare autoimmune disease called relapsing polychondritis. The disease attacks cartilage, and it was affecting not only her ribs and her nose, but also her heart, where doctors at Mayo found inflammation. She admits that it was a difficult diagnosis, but it also gave her hope that treatment could control her symptoms.
Alvaro Gomez knows people in several continents and has access to health care in the U.S., Chile and Europe. When the Central Florida resident faced a prostate cancer diagnosis, he polled his acquaintances and doctors near and far and came up with one answer: Mayo Clinic. “I was fortunate that after taking into account the advice from friends and doctors, I came to the conclusion that the best place to go was Mayo Clinic, only an hour-and-a-half from my house,” Gomez says. Gomez leads a busy life as a violinist, music instructor and orchestra conductor in Florida, Chile, Brazil and Italy. Now, just outside busy Orlando, Fla., he directs his own music academy, conducts the Florida Young Artists Orchestra, and teaches music at Trinity Prep in Winter Park. Internationally, he leads the annual Luis Sigall Music Competition in Viña del Mar, in his native Chile. He also conducts a chamber orchestra at Festival Villa-Lobos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and each summer conducts at L’Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy. In part due to his busy schedule, Gomez took time for a routine health checkup. Although he felt fine at the time, a routine blood test at age 56 turned up high PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. His family doctor recommended a biopsy, which revealed cancer cells, and put him on a quest to find the best place to receive treatment.