In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 19, 2015

More Than a ‘Twinge of Pain’

By In the Loop

BarnardKelly805At first, Kelly Barnard just thought she had a bad stomach ache. She’d felt “little twinges of pain” in her stomach before, she tells the Duluth Tribune, but it was nothing like the pain she’d felt just four days before Valentine’s Day 2013. “It was horrendous,” she tells the paper. “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t move.” She called her mom, Beth LaVigne, who whisked Kelly from her dorm room at the College of St. Scholastica and drove her to a local emergency room. There, doctors told her something she didn’t expect to hear. “They said it looked like my ovary had basically exploded,” she tells the paper. Kelly underwent emergency surgery to remove a cyst from her ovary.

On Valentine’s Day, Kelly’s phone rang. Her doctors wanted her to come back to the hospital and had more unexpected news for the then 19-year-old: She had colon cancer, and it was “metastatic,” spreading from her colon to her ovary. “So, not the best Valentine’s Day, to say the least,” she tells the Tribune.

After her diagnosis, Kelly tells us that she and her family met with a surgeon who suggested they “take some time” to decide “whether to implant a stent and start chemo immediately or surgically remove the tumor from my descending colon,” she says. She and her family decided time wasn’t exactly something they could spare, so Kelly’s mom called Mayo Clinic to seek a second opinion. “They told us to come immediately,” Kelly says.

At Mayo, Kelly met with colon and rectal surgeon Robert Cima, M.D., who the Tribune reports decided that immediate surgery would be her best chance for survival, especially given her young age. “She’s a young, healthy person otherwise,” Dr. Cima tells the paper. “So the opportunity ... to know that she’ll tolerate it was there.” Not only did Kelly tolerate the aggressive surgery, which removed “all visible signs” of her tumor, but she’s kept her cancer at bay for two years, which Dr. Cima tells the Tribune is good news. “What we do know is 85 percent of all recurrences occur within the first two years,” he says. “She’s two years out with no clinical evidence of recurrence. Each day is a win.”

And those wins, Kelly says, couldn’t have happened without her care team at Mayo. “Everyone was so friendly and made sure I knew what was going on at all times,” she tells us. “I felt like I was in the best care possible and the needs of myself and my family were exceeded. I am so eternally grateful to Dr. Cima and his team. They saved my life.”

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Tags: colon cancer, Dr. Robert Cima, Patient Stories

OMG – I had these same symptoms in January 2015. I could not walk (felt like groin/hip joint was ‘stuck’) and could feel everything that passed through my colon and near my left ovary. Diagnosis: ovarian cyst and liver cysts. No colonoscopy done, but I’m still experiencing stomach pain/bloating. Would you suggest a colonoscopy to check things out?


So glad you got the care you needed! My son was 12 when the doctors found that he has several pre -cancerous polyps in his colon. He had experienced several stomach aches also


Wow. I have been feeling really down because I have been having troubles with my j-pouch. I started feeling sorry for myself today after having over a month of running to the bathroom several times a night and what feels like every hour during the day. My cancer did not spread like this and I have to remember there are people who are struggling so much than I am. You are in my thoughts and prayers!!!


Sharon, we can’t provide second opinions, diagnose conditions or make specific treatment recommendations through this website. If you would like to seek help from Mayo Clinic, please call one of our appointment offices (Arizona: 480-301-1735 Florida: 904-953-0853 Minnesota: 507-284-2511).


Ok this is alarming. Last Monday Upper left quadrant abdominal pain came on out of nowhere. I have been having intermittent left hip painful for months, but chalked it up to weight, lack of exercise and getting old. By Wednesday the pain was unbearable and doc ordered a ct scan ASAP. I got it Thursday morning and by Thursday evening I got a call saying go to the ER, you have a Bowel intersussesptcion (spelling). I go to the ER and surgeon says ‘you don’t have all the signs… Vomitting, etc. But your ct scan also shows a 28mm cyst on your left ovary.

Here’s some pain meds…take these and rest. I’m not crazy to assume my ovary is not up near my lower left rib cage right? I mean, I’m no expert in anatomy but ovaries are much lower. I have a consult with a GI doc but this story now has me concerned that the “take these pain pills and rest” may not have been the best advice. For reference.. I had RNY, open, in April 2002. Other than iron deficiency anemia….no other post operative issues.


I had stage 4 breast cancer, diagnosed in 2005. Because my treatment was aggressive, I’m not only still here, I’ve had no evidence of recurrence. I’m lucky to live in a big city, where teaching hospitals abound. But as grateful as I am for the hospitals that have seen me through this process, there is no place like Mayo. I refer people to Mayo consistently, especially when they haven’t had any luck with their treatment thus far. Mayo gives us the best chance to find out what’s wrong and get the best possible treatment.

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