Cancer-free after three bouts
Young woman relies on Mayo teamwork
For Jenna Langer, Mayo Clinic is more than the place where her cancer was cured. It's the place that has cured her cancer — twice — and is now treating her for a third cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).
Osteosarcoma and thyroid cancer
Mayo Clinic pediatric oncologists diagnosed Jenna with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, when she was a senior in high school. After successful treatments including chemotherapy and radiation, she began her political science major at the University of Minnesota. Thyroid cancer struck at age 21, but a quick surgical treatment allowed her to graduate and land her dream job in public affairs in Washington, D.C.
After two years of working down the block from the White House, Jenna's health once again declined. Doctors in Washington D.C., diagnosed her with MDS, an unfortunate result of the life-saving chemotherapy and radiation she received as a teen. With the stress of another illness at hand, Jenna decided to return to her family in New Ulm, Minn., and to Mayo Clinic.
"Mayo knows me. I saw the same doctors this time around as when I had pediatric cancer because [Mayo] is all about continuity of care and teamwork," says Jenna.
"A whole team of people"
"There's no stress knowing that everything is streamlined and coordinated. There's always confidence that when I leave my case isn't over. There's a whole team of people discussing my case daily."
Although Jenna is now 25 years old, Carola A.S. Arndt, M.D., professor of pediatrics, and her team know Jenna well from treating her osteosarcoma in 2004. Dr. Arndt and her team performed a bone marrow transplant in May 2011.
Attitude makes the difference
Jenna recalls her decision to return to Mayo for care. "Dr. Arndt said to me, 'We all talked about it, and we would really like to treat you here, if you'll have us,'" says Jenna. "I couldn't say no to that."
For Jenna, that kind of attitude has made all the difference. Her frequent visits to the hospital are more pleasant because nurses, consultants and other providers know her name and stop by to wish her well during her appointments. Jenna attributes the success of the care she has received over her three bouts with cancer to one word, a core value for staff at Mayo — "teamwork."
Confidence, trust, gratitude
Dr. Arndt and her team coordinated with an adult bone marrow team to provide Jenna with continued care following her May transplant and stay in the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minn.
Today, Jenna is cancer-free, although she lives with the knowledge it could return at any time. She feels gratitude for the care she has received, and confidence and trust in her Mayo medical team: "I have the utmost faith in their care."
Jenna talks about her cancer and treatment on MPR news. Listen here: