In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 9, 2016

‘Coming to Work for Mayo Clinic Saved My Life’

By In the Loop

Kristin Alcott’s decision to work for Mayo Clinic likely saved her life.

Although Kristin Alcott grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, she never really envisioned herself working for Mayo Clinic. "Being around Mayo all the time as a kid, I always wondered what else was out there in the world," she tells us.

In 2010, however, Kristin found herself accepting a position as a clinical assistant in the neurophysiology department at Mayo's Florida campus. "That's what I went to school for, so I thought it would be a good way to get my foot in the door," she says. By that point in her life, Kristin, now a neurophysiology tech in Jacksonville, tells us she had "worked for enough other companies" to realize that Mayo Clinic, after all, "was the place for me."

One of the first things Kristin did as a new Mayo employee was find a primary care physician. "Coming from Minnesota, I thought I should get myself established as a new patient," she says. During that initial consult, Family Medicine physician Robert Shannon, M.D., immediately took note of "the number of freckles and moles" on Kristin. "I'd never been to a dermatologist before, and so he said, 'Let's start by getting a baseline on you since you're a new patient,'" she tells us. "One of the first places he sent me was Dermatology."

Kristin had a punch biopsy on one of the moles on her arm, expecting the results to be anything other than what they ultimately revealed: malignant melanoma. It was a reality, Kristin says, that didn't sink in at first. "When the dermatologist called, I didn't realize I'd just been told I had cancer," she tells us. "He matter-of-factly said the biopsy came back malignant for melanoma, and then told me they were going to take care of it." Kristin’s dermatologist, along with Dr. Shannon, plastic surgeon James Waldorf, M.D., and the rest of her care team, held true to those words. "A week later, I was in an operating room," she says.

Though she's been told she'll "likely never be cancer-free," Kristin knows things could be much worse. "I have well over a dozen biopsy scars, and I'm sure I'll accumulate more," she says. "But I've never had to have radiation. I've never had to have chemotherapy. I just have the scars," she tells us. She also believes that the melanoma likely would not have been caught when it was had she taken a job elsewhere. "Coming to work for Mayo Clinic, I believe, saved my life."

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Tags: Dermatology, Dr. Robert Shannon, Florida Campus, Melanoma, Patient Stories

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