Patient Stories

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 Rick, Deadly Aortic Aneurysm Averted

Fate works in funny ways. Just ask Rick, who learned he had a life-threatening aortic aneurysm after a chance meeting with a cardiologist from the University of Minnesota. Aneurysms are known as a 'silent killer' because they don’t cause any patient symptoms. But if an aortic aneurysm bursts, the patient’s chance of survival falls to roughly 50 percent. [Read Rick's Full Story]



UMP - image - Rocky patient story smallRocky, inventive treatment brings him back from the brink

James, better known by his friends as "Rocky", was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer after care providers at the University of Minnesota found a large tumor attached to his kidney. Hoping to reduce the tumor before surgery, Rocky's specialist put him on an uncommon treatment regimen. The innovative treatment led to some surprising results. [Read Rocky's Full Story]


Heidi, surgery ends epileptic seizures

UMP - image - Heidi patient story smallUnexplained and unpredictable seizures were taking a toll on Heidi’s busy life. After a University of Minnesota physician diagnosed her with epilepsy, Heidi underwent brain surgery to treat her epileptic episodes. 10 years later, she is completing half-triathlons and living seizure free. [Read Heidi's Full Story]


Matt, transplant survivor wants to say 'thank you'

UMP - image - Matt Snyder patient story-smallMatt only remembers snippets from the stem cell transplant that saved his life. But in many ways that operation has defined his life. It fuels his faith. It serves as a touchstone when he comes face-to-face with difficult challenges. And—above all—it drives him to give back. Now Matt, 23, is applying for medical school at the University of Minnesota. [Read Matt's Full Story]



David, doctors treating cancer make troublesome discovery

UMP - image - David Beck patient story smallWhen David’s voice got hoarse, he didn’t think too much of it – he coaches softball so a hoarse voice isn’t that unusual. University of Minnesota Physicians care providers diagnosed him with throat cancer, but then a PET scan revealed another potentially life-threatening medical issue. Doctors were forced to choose which to treat first: The cancer or an aneurysm that could cause David to bleed out at any time. [Read David's Full Story]




 Elizabeth, seeking sexual orientation guidance

UMP - image - Elizabeth patient story smallFor most of her life, Elizabeth struggled with confusion over her attraction to people of both genders. Messages from her church and society made her doubt herself. Her sessions with a University of Minnesota Physicians psychologist have helped her realize that it’s perfectly normal to be attracted to both women and men, and that it’s the person that matters, not the gender. [Read Elizabeth's Full Story]




Ann, close call with meningitis

UMP - image - Ann Cirelli patient story smallAnn's husband rushed her to the hospital after she woke up one morning unable to speak. Over the next several months, Ann fought tooth-and-nail against bacterial meningitis—a disease that left her in a coma for 17 days. Twice during her treatment, Ann died and was revived by her medical team. After a long and difficult recovery, Ann faces new challenges and ongoing health issues. To ensure her ongoing health, Ann works closely with a care team from the University of Minnesota Physicians Phalen Village Clinic. [Read Ann's Full Story]  



Makeda, stage four cancer survivor

UMP - image - Makeda patient story web smallFor more than six weeks, Makeda was a walking, talking medical mystery.

An active, engaged community organizer, wife, and mother of two in Minneapolis, Makeda was troubled by a chronic cough and fatigue that eventually left her unable to climb a single set of stairs—or cross a parking lot—without resting. Makeda's physician, Dr. Barbara Leone, read between the symptoms—and caught a life-altering illness before it was too late. [Read Makeda's Full Story]


Bill, writing new stories with each sunrise

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When colon surgery brought Bill to the University of Minnesota, he found a skilled team of doctors and nurses dedicated to his recovery – and to bringing him apple pie! Now this former CNN news reporter and author is back on his feet and taking better care of his health. Bill has written a book loosely based on his childhood and every sunrise brings him closer to realizing his dream of adapting it into a movie. [Read Bill's Full Story]




Ray, seeking a solution for severe nosebleeds

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Ray’s chronic, debilitating nosebleeds would happen suddenly and without warning – an embarrassing problem that affected his social life and professional career. But when University of Minnesota Physicians Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Dr. Holly Bohler found a solution by putting an uncommon twist on a common procedure. [Read Ray's Full Story]




David, ankle replacement surgery

The arthritis in David’s ankle made everyday activities very painful. Thanks to an innovative procedure developed by Fernando Pena, MD, that involves transplanting ankle bone and cartilage, David is back to his normal routine and doing the things he loves – like riding his motorcycle. [Read David's Full Story]

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Brad, treated for vocal loss

As a trained vocal performer, Brad understands the importance of his voice. But, when severe hoarseness made it difficult to speak, let alone sing, it was more challenging than he’d expected. As efforts to rest his voice didn’t help, he became distressed and began to think “What would I do if I couldn’t talk?” [Read Brad's Full Story]

Queenie, receiving chemotherapy close to home

Receiving the palliative chemotherapy treatment she needs at Ridges Cancer Clinic in Burnsville has made a significant difference for Queenie and her daughter, Julie. Taking the frequent commute to Minneapolis out of the equation has saved them time and energy, allowing them to focus on more important things—like spending quality time together. [Read Queenie's Full Story]


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James, treated for hearing loss

James figures he’s had trouble hearing since he was a child. But, it took until he was 76 years old for him to find a cure that would alleviate his pain and allow him to hear clearly. Thanks to the focused attention from Dr. Tina Huang and her team at UMPhysicians, James can now really enjoy the classical music he loves for the first time. [Read James' Full Story]


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Regan, treated for heart failure

On Oct. 27, 2010, Nora delivered her third child, a baby girl named Regan. Prior to her birth, Regan was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a congenital heart condition that she also shares with her father TJ and oldest sister Reese. For the first five months, Regan progressed just as any healthy baby should. As the family prepared for Easter weekend, however, Regan’s appetite began to diminish and her fussiness increased. “I thought I was taking Regan in for something routine and never imagined that her heart was beginning to fail,” said Nora. [Read Regan's Full Story]

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June, treated for nasal and brain tumors

When June was suffering from persistent sinus issues, her doctor recommended routine surgery. But the situation turned anything but routine when the surgery revealed a new problem: she was diagnosed with esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare tumor of the sinus cavity, and a walnut-sized tumor in her brain. [Read June's Full Story]


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Rita, treated for hearing loss

Rita’s hearing loss as an adult didn’t keep her from enjoying life and exploring new things. As a wife, mother of four, employee and volunteer, she kept plenty busy. She even learned to salsa dance by following the beat of the music through the vibrations on the floor. Then she received cochlear implants at University of Minnesota Medical Center, and everything changed. [Read Rita's Full Story]

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Sherri, treated for a breast cancer

In the Spring of 2010, Sherri woke up with sore, achy feeling in her upper right arm. At first she thought she had pulled a muscle, but the soreness didn’t go away. Sherri’s best friend urged her to go to University of Minnesota Physicians, where she was diagnosed with the relatively uncommon Papillary Inflammatory breast cancer. The university assembled a medical team for her, including a primary oncologist who would oversee all phases of her treatment. [Read Sherri's Full Story]

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Chris, treated for a broken arm

To a 12-year-old, a broken arm is a major life event. It stops everything. For doctors at University of Minnesota Physicians, even the seemingly routine condition receives special attention. In the case of Chris, the still-developing bones in his broken catching arm kept shifting. After two surgeries, they still hadn’t settled correctly. The chances that Chris could continue playing baseball were not looking good. Thankfully, Chris came to the right place, at the right time. University of Minnesota Physicians had developed technology principles for a specialized fixed-angle surgical plate. [Read Chris's Full Story]

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Mike, bladder cancer patient

Mike is an active guy. When a cancer diagnosis in September of 2008 threatened to slow him down, he turned to the University of Minnesota Physicians. “Upon finding the tumor, I went to the University of Minnesota for more tests and advice. My original concerns included the chemo treatment and possible side effects. Then the colostomy bag really freaked me out, not to mention the 20% chance I’d also have a urostomy bag,” said Mike. [Read Mike's Full Story]

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Yvette, breast cancer patient

Yvette is a woman very much in tune with her mind and body. Meditation, tap dancing, even alternative medicine. So she sensed something was wrong when she found another lump in her breast after she was treated for cysts. That’s when Yvette turned to University of Minnesota Physicians for a second opinion. As she says, “I’ll never forget hearing I had cancer.” But what she says will stay with her long after her cancer is gone is the patient-focused approach of University of Minnesota Physicians. [Read Yvette's Full Story]

UMP - Image - Size 4 - GoeffreyGoffrey, heart transplant recipient

At age 5, Goffrey was treated at Fairview for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His cancer went into remission, but the stress of treatment took its toll on his heart. Years later as a Florida college student, he had an echocardiogram as part of his annual oncology appointment at Fairview. The test showed some disturbing results, and Goffrey was told his best chance for survival would be through a heart transplant. [Read Goffrey's Full Story]


UMP - Image - Size 4 - Scott SteppScott, treated for blastomycosis

Blastomycosis is a very rare fungus that’s specific to the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys. So at first, what was causing Scott’s incessant cough was a bit baffling. It wasn’t until Scott saw intensivists and infectious disease experts through University of Minnesota Physicians that the elusive answer was found. He had blastomycosis-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Teams would have to get to work. Fast. [Read Scott''s Full Story]


UMP - Image - Size 4 - AlijahAlijah, treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia

It wasn’t until Alijah’s family sought care through University of Minnesota Physicians that they uncovered the reason Alijah stopped walking. What was causing this once normal, bouncy little boy to suddenly revert to crawling was leukemia. [Read Alijah''s Full Story]

UMP - Image - Size 4 - LizLiz, double lung transplant recipient

While sitting in the lobby of the Transplant Center at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, in May 2010, Liz spotted one of her doctors as he prepared to leave the clinic. She quickly turned to her father, Dick: “Dad, there goes Dr. Kempainen. Go see if you can catch him. I want to show him my medal.” Around her neck hangs a participation medal that she had earned only a few days earlier for running a half marathon back home in Lincoln, Nebraska. [Read Liz's Full Story]

Shelly, treated for irregular heart rhythm

On a Saturday afternoon, making sandwiches in the kitchen with her two teenage daughters, Shelly felt her heart racing. She was sweaty, light-headed and nauseated. The symptoms were familiar. From her mid-20’s, Shelly had experienced worrisome episodes of sporadic heart racing. Anxious, she asked herself, “Is it the VT (ventricular tachycardia) again or is it a heart attack?” [Read Shelly's Full Story]




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