Bob Thompson: My name is Bob Thompson and I'm a chartered accountant living in Canada. I was a partner with an international accounting firm and left there in the early '80s to go into business for myself.
As a businessman, I appreciate the value of time. In the busy world I live, there never seems to be enough of it and I'm always looking to find a little bit more time to accomplish the things that I've set out to do, not just in business, but more importantly enjoying life itself. And what's most important — my family.
I've been a runner all my life. And in about 2008/2009, I started to notice my right leg was becoming weaker and my foot was turning in and out. My leg continued to progress to the point where I really couldn't run anymore and I was never without back pain.
So we started the process in Canada of going through all kinds of neurological testing. Over the course of two years, I had various diagnosis, anywhere from ALS to, I think it's Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's. But they never could get to really what the definite diagnosis was, so we kind of moved from one diagnosis to the other.
In the interim, my daughter — she said the Mayo probably have the best neurologists in the world. Why don't we explore that?
Steven W. Ressler, M.D., Division Chair, General Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic Arizona: So we got to work right away. We did some diagnostic tests. And in short order had determined that this really didn't fit a picture for Lou Gehrig's or ALS, which was a great relief to him obviously.
And one of the things that happened during this — and sometimes they say invention favors the prepared mind, I suppose. We found a growth on his spine. And in short course it became clear that while his problem in his right leg was a more minor disorder that's treatable, what we found in his spine turned out to be a very serious problem.
Bob Thompson: Someone had spotted on one of my MRIs that I had done in Canada in 2009 a spot on my back. And when they had re-looked at tests that they had just did, they said it doesn't seem to have grown, but it's probably something we should have a look at because it's unusual that it would be there. And they had asked me if anybody had ever commented on it before, and I said, no. That was the first I had heard of it.
So they had booked the surgery to do that. And when I woke up, they said we have very bad news for you. It's cancer.
Dr. Ressler: Now once we confirmed that diagnosis for him, he had a couple of options here. Now in this situation, Bob decided to go home to pursue radiation therapy for this. And so that's something that we're really able to facilitate. In this situation, we were able to get a diagnosis, something that if it were not treated could've left him paralyzed. But instead, he was able to head home and over the next few months was able to receive definitive radiation therapy at home.
Bob Thompson: So we did the radiation treatment in Canada. But, coincidentally, while they were looking at that, they spotted another thing in my thyroid, and it turned out I had thyroid cancer as well. And I couldn't get a timely surgery in Canada because they rank the types of cancer that you have by priority. And thyroid cancer is not one that they think is an aggressive cancer. So they were not able to do the surgery for at least three to four months. And I mean, mentally, it's almost impossible to imagine for three or four months waiting to have that done.
So I phoned back down to Dr. Ressler and he said, well, we can do it at the Mayo. And 10 days later I had that surgery done.
Dr. Ressler: So here, by having this unhurried approach, taking time, not rushing through our initial visit, not having to rush through our follow-up visit, and having radiologists and other members of the team that also have time to be very intentional, we picked up a very subtle issue again. And we were able to avoid a lot of headaches down the road for him.
Bob Thompson: For whatever reason, I always felt I was going to be OK. Still difficult to talk about.
The Mayo Clinic has given me a new lease on life. I think the future is that I get to participate with my grandkids, my daughters, my son in the community. And just the thought of being able to continue to do that for another 20 years or 30 years is just an experience that I can't imagine not being able to be part of.