Better than Normal

Young woman runs her first marathon 3 years after colectomy

David and Paula Mattis sent the following letter to Delos M. Cosgrove, MD, CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic, in appreciation of the care their daughter received from the healthcare professionals in the Digestive Disease Institute’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Department of Colorectal Surgery.

Our daughter, Kelly Mattis Adrine, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2000, during her senior year at John Carroll University. While the diagnosis explained many things experienced during her youth, the disease was, as a practical matter, dormant until October 2004. It was then, while she was honeymooning in Aruba, that Crohn’s flared up in a big way. Upon her return, Kelly was hospitalized and treated, but with little positive effect. We became alarmed over the rapid deterioration of our daughter, who had been a vibrant young woman just a short time before this flare-up.

As her condition continued to deteriorate, we were able to make an appointment with Victor Fazio, MD (holder of the Rupert B. Turnbull, MD, Chair in Colorectal Surgery). Kelly was then admitted to Cleveland Clinic on an emergency basis under the supervision of Dr. Fazio, with Jean-Paul Achkar, MD (holder of the Kenneth Rainin Endowed Chair in IBD Research in the Digestive Disease Institute’s Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology), and Feza Remzi, MD (Department Chair, Colorectal Surgery, and holder of the Ed and Joey Story Endowed Chair in Colorectal Surgery).

While her doctors made every effort to save her diseased colon, our daughter’s condition continued to worsen, leading in August 2005 to another emergency admission. Her pulse exceeded 160, she was totally dehydrated and required four units of blood. It was then that Dr. Remzi told her that she had no alternative but to have her colon removed.

He explained the entire procedure to Kelly and to us and answered all our questions. Two days later, in a laparoscopic procedure, Dr. Remzi removed Kelly’s colon and performed an ileostomy.

The confidence, compassion and competence displayed by Dr. Remzi throughout the entire process put us, and Kelly, as at ease as possible, considering the seriousness of her condition. His bedside manner and accessibility made us very comfortable. He even gave Kelly his home phone number. Indeed, Dr. Remzi, along with Dr. Achkar and their respective staffs, are certainly a testimony to the excellence for which Cleveland Clinic has come to be recognized.

Kelly continued (and continues) under the care of Drs. Remzi and Achkar. In February 2006, Dr. Remzi performed J-Pouch surgery, which returned basic normalcy to Kelly’s life. By then, she was in her late 20s.

Between the two surgeries, Kelly took part in a Digestive Disease Institute video [see Patient Stories, Winning the Race] called “Gut Decision: Choosing Minimally Invasive Surgery.” In it, Kelly speaks of her experience and to looking forward to returning to a normal life.

Since that time, with periodic visits to Drs. Remzi and Achkar, Kelly has led a “normal” life – normal if you consider running 26.2 miles to be normal. With long-distance training guidance from her brother, Bill Mattis of Portland, Oregon, a sub three-hour marathoner, and with the concurrence of both doctors, she prepared for and ran the Cleveland Rite Aid half-marathon in May 2008, finishing in one hour, 40 minutes and placing 233 out of 1,600-plus runners overall. She came in 37th among females and ninth in her age group.

With the running bug well entrenched, she immediately began training for a full marathon. In early October of that year, paced by her brother, she ran the Portland marathon in three hours, 31 minutes, placing 721 out of 7,900 runners overall. Among 4,200 females, she came in 113th and, in her age group, placed 27th out of 268. The real prize, however, came in the form of qualifying to run the famous Boston Marathon.

In April 2009, Kelly ran Boston in three hours, 35 minutes at a pace of eight minutes, 14 seconds per mile over the very challenging course. She placed 8,991 out of 23,000 runners; she came in 1,908th of 9,400 females and 1,472 of 5,100 in her age group.

Since then, she has run two more marathons, returning to Portland in October 2009 and the Cleveland Rite Aid marathon in May 2010. She is currently preparing for a return to the Boston marathon in April of 2011.

Who, a short five years ago, would have predicted a physical recovery sufficient to run marathons with very credible times? Five years ago, we prayed simply that she win the medical battle. Anything further was beyond reasonable expectations. It was Cleveland Clinic and its exceptional staff that gave us our daughter back.

To make an online gift supporting the Digestive Disease Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.

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