Kaeleen Mayo

Kaeleen Mayo near her home in Cantwell.

Friends and neighbors are helping Kaeleen Mayo on her road to recovery. 

A special fundraising walk on the Denali Highway will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 25 to help pay for the Cantwell woman to fly Outside for an important medical appointment.

Everyone is invited to collect pledges and hike/bike or ride an all-terrain vehicle on the Denali Highway, from the end of the pavement to Twin Lakes and back, a distance of five miles each way. Participants can choose the distance. To sign up, contact Marge Nord at 907 987-8264 or Cynthia Brian at 907 354-2533.

Kaeleen Mayo suffers from Cushing’s disease and it has been a long journey to get to this point. It was years before she was diagnosed correctly.

“It’s been tough,” she said, in an online post, after she had surgery last spring to remove a pituitary tumor. The steroids she takes cause extreme fatigue, muscle weakness and joint pain. 

“My head is still fuzzy, amongst many more unpleasant side effects,” she said. “There are so many changes going on inside my body right now.”

“I stay hopeful,” she added. “I want to get well enough to do all the things that I love.”

She is due for a mid-July visit to take a hormone stimulation test, to determine whether Cushing’s disease is in remission, an MRI visit with the neurosurgeon to check status of the removed tumor, and a visit with yet another medical expert to clean the area where the tumor was removed.

Unfortunately, she can’t afford cost of the trip. That’s where her community comes in, organizing this walk to help raise the money.

Kaeleen Mayo was sick for years but it wasn’t until 2019 that she was finally diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease. This is a rare and serious condition, affecting 10-15 million people every year, most commonly adults between the ages of 20 and 50. Women account for more than 70% of the cases. It is an excess of the steroid hormone cortisol in the blood level, caused by a pituitary tumor.

Symptoms include fullness and rounding of the face; added fat on the back of the neck; easy bruising of the skin; excess weight, especially in the abdominal area, while legs and arms remain thin; weakness and fatigue; wasting way of muscles; high blood pressure; vision loss and more.

The delay in her diagnosis was due to the fact that  her symptoms were not textbook symptoms. But she never stopped looking for answers and felt vindicated once she was finally diagnosed.

Surgery was scheduled for 2020 to remove the tumor. But surgeons had to abort when her lung collapsed in the operating room. She rescheduled and the surgery was successfully completed this past spring.

At that time, she posted that she was feeling “wonderful, accomplished, hopeful, relaxed and can’t believe we are on the other side of thing.”

“As we all know, things can change in a heartbeat, but we are hoping that things will stay on track,” she said.

Now, she needs that final check-up to make sure her heath is on track. The Cantwell community is going to make sure she gets there.

“I want to thank all of you for your love and support,” she said.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.