• Sharing Mayo Clinic

    Runner travels “cross-country” for experienced tumor-removal team

Amy Haberman and Dr. Leibovich
Amy Haberman and Dr. Bradley Leibovich after the Twin Cities Marathon

Amy Haberman was diagnosed with a noncancerous tumor the size of a small football, lodged near her left kidney and colon. Her local physicians advised her to look for a medical center that specializes in teams of surgeons who can remove large tumors that have nerve involvement and a significant blood supply. While the tumor was slow growing, it was fatal if not removed.

Amy traveled from her home in California to Minnesota to meet with a team of Mayo Clinic doctors, including urologist Bradley Leibovich, M.D.

"We'd performed similar surgery before. We were optimistic we could remove Amy's tumor," says Dr. Leibovich. "Mayo Clinic has a large, collaborative surgical practice, and we are experienced at handling difficult cases referred from around the world."

The tumor, a giant schwannoma, was successfully removed. Five days later, Amy went for a walk. Becoming physically active again was important to Amy, a lifelong runner and volunteer running coach.

"I thrive on being physically active," says Amy. "Before my surgery, my partner, Steve Palazzo, walked with me around the block at home, carrying a folding chair so I could sit down to rest after every 100 yards.

"After surgery, I encouraged myself to do a little more here and a little more there — the same encouragement you use when you struggle to finish the last miles of a marathon. Mayo Clinic provides a similar opportunity for patients — to fight the battle with phenomenal medical support and tenacity and hope. A fitting metaphor for marathon runners and others who are determined to regain their quality of life."

During Amy's treatment at Mayo Clinic, she and Dr. Leibovich discovered a mutual love of running and learned they were both training for the Twin Cities Marathon.

Amy completed the marathon with Dr. Leibovich fast on her heels at the finish line.

"That I was able to run at all is possible because of my Mayo Clinic medical team," says Amy. "At the end of the marathon, I was happy to feel so good and know that Dr. Leibovich finished in a great time. It was a very sweet, profound moment. I'm blessed to be a Mayo Clinic patient."