Cancer Patient gets Valuable Second Opinion at No Extra Cost


David Rankin thought he was pretty healthy for a 71-year-old. Almost every day, he enjoyed taking walks throughout his Erlanger neighborhood, where he lives with his wife Bonnie.

One day, after routine bloodwork, David was stunned when his primary care doctor told him that his red blood cell count was too low.

“I didn’t even know I had an illness,” says David, “but I did notice that my walking pace slowed down a bit. I was out of breath but just thought I was getting old.”

To seek answers and treatment, David started seeing Dr. Douglas Flora, a hematologist and oncologist with St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

A bone marrow biopsy confirmed that David has Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), a type of cancer that occurs when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are damaged.
Symptoms include:

  • Excessive tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fever.
  • Serious infections.

“Naturally, you think the worst at first,” remembers David. “But Dr. Flora told me that it was treatable. Not curable, but treatable.”

David began chemotherapy treatments – five days in a row, for one week each month. Initially, he tolerated the treatments pretty well.

Later, his condition got complicated. Another bone marrow biopsy revealed that David also showed signs of another type of cancer – lymphoma.

“It was very unusual, but I did it,” says David. So doctors treated his lymphoma with yet another medication.

“It seemed to work well. I was feeling good.” says David.

However, when doctors resumed treatment for his original illness, MDS, David started feeling bad again.

“My blood count numbers went way low,” says David. “I could hardly walk up the steps I was feeling so out of breath.”

Seeking a second opinion – through Mayo Clinic collaboration
At this point, Dr. Flora consulted about David’s condition with specialists at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. Since St. Elizabeth is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, physicians can seek second opinions and access Mayo Clinic’s wide body of knowledge and expertise.

“I was thrilled,” says David. “Dr. Flora told me it was like I had an appointment with the head doctor at Mayo Clinic, but I didn’t have to travel.”

“We felt confident with the management of David’s care here at St. Elizabeth, but it often provides an extra level of reassurance for both the patient and the clinician that we are pursuing the best possible course of care with the ready availability of Mayo expert opinions for our patients,” shared Dr. Flora.

The Mayo specialists agreed with Dr. Flora that David should take a break from chemotherapy treatment now, while his MDS and lymphoma continue to be monitored closely.

“I’m having no problems right now,” says David.

David said the Mayo Clinic consultation gave him great peace of mind, at no extra cost.

“I had people say – you need to get a second opinion. Well, now I have a second opinion,” says David. “I didn’t want to give up on Dr. Flora, because I really trust him.”

“It’s nice to know that when we encounter rare or challenging cases like this one, we have a means to pursue an added layer of protection and expert guidance,” says Dr. Flora. “It’s an assurance that every patient we treat can still receive world class care right in their own backyard.”

St. Elizabeth Healthcare is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its affiliation with the prestigious Mayo Clinic. As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, physicians and clinicians can consult with Mayo specialists, giving patients extra peace of mind, at no additional expense.