Patient stories

  1. "Hopeful life" after surgery to remove rare brain tumor

    When 7-year-old Jacob Harpel was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, doctors told his parents, Koreen and Paul, that it was most likely noncancerous (benign) and slow-growing and recommended a wait-and-see approach to treatment. But with the tumor causing seizures and dizzy spells, the Harpels decided to seek a second opinion. After extensive testing, a [...]

  2. Caleb Ragaller and his family

    Small Bump becomes Big Problem

    What began as a small, painless bump turned into a grueling 9.5-hour surgery for 3-year-old Caleb Ragaller (now 6). Caleb was born with a nasal dermoid cyst. Because superficial dermoid cysts are typically slow-growing and can be removed without complication, Caleb’s treatment plan appeared to be pretty straightforward. “We would go in for normal checkups [...]

  3. Diagnosing Nick's Mysterious Illness

    Melissa Shultz, a freelance writer living in Plano, Texas, wrote an article for Newsweek online about her son Nick's mysterious illness and his diagnosis and treatment at Mayo Clinic. Fatigue set in a day after Nick's dizziness started. Swollen glands followed close behind. Our general practitioner ordered blood work, including studies for mononucleosis and Lyme [...]

  4. College Student Overcomes Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

    In her early 20s, Erin Ayub has big plans. As a college student in El Paso, Texas, she is also a musician and aspiring writer. She had to put her plans on hold for a bit while in a medically induced coma at Mayo Clinic in Arizona due to a rare illness — anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. [...]

  5. Victoria Jackson

    From Mascara to Medicine: A Mom on a Mission

    When their daughter was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica (NMO) in June 2008, the world turned upside down for cosmetics entrepreneur Victoria Jackson and infomercial pioneer Bill Guthy. The diagnosing physician told them, "you know, if this were my child, I'd be going to Mayo Clinic." And that's exactly what they did. In the video below, [...]

  6. Mother and daughter bond over brain surgery

    Some mothers and daughters bond over shopping. Margie Hartmann and her daughter, Jessica McNeil, bonded over Gamma Knife surgery. Hartmann and McNeil had the treatment — a type of neurosurgery that doesn't require an incision — on the same day at Mayo Clinic, for different conditions. Hartmann had a recurrent meningioma, a slow-growing tumor. Although [...]

  7. Christina George's Mayo Clinic Story - How the Ketogenic Diet Stopped Her Seizures

    Larry and Paulette George had never seen a seizure before when their 7 month old daughter, Christina, began having more than 100 seizures a day. They tried medication after medication, but the seizures wouldn't stop. Paulette's sister had heard something about a diet for seizures and mentioned it to them, but when they asked their [...]

  8. Overcoming Epilepsy

    My name is Rachel Skaug, formerly Rachel Kaalberg, and I used to have epileptic seizures as a child. My seizures started at four months old, which was in 1988, and lasted until I was 10 years old, in 1998. I am from Madison, Wis. Much of my testing happened at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. I [...]

  9. Jacob Harpel's Thanksgiving Story

    Eight-year-old Jacob Harpel from Glencoe, Minn., was diagnosed with a plum-sized brain tumor the day before Thanksgiving last year. He had aggressive brain surgery at Mayo Clinic in August to remove the tumor; with the surgery he had a 50% chance of losing his peripheral vision on one side and a 50% chance of speech [...]

  10. Cynthia Amendt

    Forever a teacher

    Whether instructing art classes or modeling for students, Cynthia Amendt has always been a teacher. When she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma — a deadly brain tumor — Cynthia thought her teaching days might be over. Then she joined a clinical trial at Mayo Clinic and now realizes she's received her most important teaching assignment [...]

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