Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.
JOHN: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect?
@travelgirl: I received two rare and unusual diagnoses one week apart as a patient of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. I was diagnosed with both stage 1 cecum cancer and a stage 3 follicular lymphoma. I seriously believe I went into shock the day I was told. I had no symptoms of either disease. They were found because I had caught H. pylori infection while traveling out of the country. Suriname, El Salvador, China, Mexico, Greece and Argentina were all recent destinations for me.
On Mayo Clinic Connect, I was hoping to find someone who been diagnosed with the same two diseases as me. I thought, “I can't be the only person in the world to be diagnosed with double primary cancers.”
JOHN: What motivates you to take part in the community?
@travelgirl: I love helping people. Reading their stories, I sometimes sense panic in a post. If it is something I can relate to from experience, I like to help ease their minds or just be the understanding stranger on the other end of the computer.
JOHN: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@travelgirl: I have found just about every person who is on Connect is looking for the same thing: a safe, understanding place to find answers, and comfort in a time of need. Having medical issues can be extremely frightening and very lonely at times. I think Connect has the ability to help patients overcome such fears. Sometimes hearing it from strangers sinks in better than hearing it from family.
JOHN: What groups do you participate in?
@travelgirl: I follow 13 groups on Connect. I am most active in the following groups:
JOHN: Who has been a special connection for you on Connect?
@travelgirl: There have been several people I have met on Connect who’ve helped me to calm down. In my first posts on Connect over 2 years ago, I was looking for guidance and answers. I did find the solace I was looking for from the many strangers who took the time to respond.
Teresa, @hopeful33250, is always following my posts and checking on me about whatever issue I have posted about. She does make you feel hopeful that everything is going to be fine.
There was a member named Lacey, @lacey, who had just finished her treatments for follicular lymphoma. She had the disease for many years. Lacey took the time to explain what night sweats were and that I didn't need to wake up every hour and check myself. (Yes, I really did. I was completely panicked when I was first diagnosed with cancer.) Lacey’s kind words reassured me I was fine.
There was also Sheryl, @smness, a former Mayo Clinic nurse educator, who came on to explain to me about really healthy eating in this Connect discussion, Healthy Diets for Cancer Patients. She helped to ease my mind about the food I was eating.
JOHN: What surprised you the most about Connect?
@travelgirl: Sincere and genuine people. I have been to other sites. You felt like you were talking to yourself, or your posts had gotten lost in cyberspace. At Connect, there always seems to be an understanding, compassionate person reading and answering your posts.
JOHN: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@travelgirl: The gift of a wonderful husband of 33 years and two handsome sons, along with a beautiful daughter-in-law, gives me energy and balance in life. They can all drive me batty at times, but I love them to death. They are always wondering about me, “Where in the world is she going next?”
Many in the travel industry would say I am my mother’s daughter. My mom opened a travel agency back in the early 70s. She had a lust for travel. My mom and I traveled all over the world together. She passed away at 59 years old.
I try to keep her legacy going, and today I still carry on with giving travel advice to others. I am a consultant in the medical tourism industry. My biggest passion is making sure people with special medical conditions are able to travel the world in a seamless fashion. This is by far what keeps me energized: helping people with special needs and medical conditions safely travel the world.
I find balance when I am traveling the world, experiencing different cultures and seeing new sights. Traveling fuels my lust to live. I completely forget I am not feeling well when I am somewhere new in the world. The whole time I was feeling sick with H. pylori I was on the road, and the travel took away the constant stomach pain. Six weeks after my surgery to remove the cancerous flat polyp in my cecum, I went on a cruise. (Shh about that one — I was supposed to be home resting for 16 weeks.) Traveling gives me the drive to want to live forever, and it takes away all my aches and pains. Both mentally and physically, it somehow clears my mind.
JOHN: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@travelgirl: If I am not traveling the world, my husband and I like cooking, working out, bike riding, playing on the beach, walking, concerts, festivals and shopping.
JOHN: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?
@travelgirl: Never ever give up. Where there’s a will, there's a way!
JOHN: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?
@travelgirl: This is a hard one. LOL ... Julia Roberts: I tend to have a little bit of Erin Brockovich in me.
JOHN: What do you love about where you live or vacation?
@travelgirl: I live on an barrier Island off the coast of Florida, and I constantly feel like I am on a vacation. Since I love traveling, it is a perfect setting for my husband and I to live — it is like we are on a constant travel getaway.