By the time she came to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in 2011, Jonica Lincoln had a case of ulcerative colitis so bad that it was not only affecting her quality of life, but also who she was as a person. "I would put on a brave face and smile and do all of the things that I needed to do as a mom and as a person, but on the inside, I was suffering daily," she tells us.
Jonica says that while she was familiar with Mayo Clinic, she'd never seriously considered making an appointment, because her symptoms "weren’t that bad." But after seven years of living with the condition, that started to change. Jonica asked her local physician for a referral. Three weeks and a seven-hour drive later, she was in Rochester for the first of three surgeries that would give her a "new and improved digestive system."
Though it's been about four years since her last procedure, Jonica recently sent a heart-felt letter to her surgeon, David Larson, M.D. She wanted to let him know that she's still healthy, and using her newfound health to make a difference in her local community. "I want to thank you and your nurses and the rest of your staff for giving me my life back," she writes. "I have been so healthy and happy since my surgeries. I have done things I never dreamed I could. I have shared my Mayo story with so many people, and I am getting ready to have my big chance to give back to the medical community."
Jonica's "big chance" came on Jan. 4, 2016, when she passed her National Council Licensure Examination, officially marking the beginning of her new career as a licensed nurse. And she did it, she tells us, because she was "so inspired" by the nurses who cared for her at Mayo Clinic. "My nurses were so amazing and thorough and compassionate," she says. "I had one nurse named Kathy whose bedside manner was so peaceful and positive. She always had a very calming effect on me as a patient, regardless of what I was going through at the time. I was very inspired to be like her."
Jonica closed her letter to Dr. Larson by thanking him and "everyone else at Mayo Clinic" for their "dedication" to helping patients like her. "Your commitment to excellence in gastroenterology not only restored my health, it also inspired me to become a GI nurse," she writes. "I would imagine as a doctor, you are accustomed to seeing patients when they are sick and then expecting them to disappear when they are well. So, please know I am doing well. I am doing great things with my life, and I am very grateful for the work you did to help me."
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