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Alumna Janet Mayer to appear on Dr. Oz Show this week
Sunday, December 06, 2009

Janet Mayer on Dr. Oz
Alumna Janet Mayer undergoes make-up and hair styling prior to appearing on the set of “The Dr. Oz Show” to share her story of being misdiagnosed for a stroke.

 “The Dr. Oz Show” airs daily, WIVB, Channel 4 WNLO, CW 23. Mayer will appear on the show aired nationally Dec. 14 (check local schedules).


Janet Mayer, 1991 graduate of SUNY Fredonia who is currently ITS project manager, will soon be seen on television nationwide recounting her story of suffering a stroke at a relatively young age, how it was misdiagnosed and, just as important, the road to recovery.

Mayer, wife of retired SUNY Fredonia professor Dr. Joseph Chilberg and mother of a 10-year-old son, Jackson, was one of three guests invited to appear on “The Dr. Oz Show” in a segment that examined medical misdiagnoses. The program airs nationally on Dec. 14 (check local schedules).

Joining her in the taping, done Nov. 18 in New York City, were two other women, one afflicted with hypothyroidism and the other a dissected aorta. They, too, were misdiagnosed during an initial medical examination.

“I’m happy to tell people about it, and help them recognize the symptoms because they may not be that clear. Symptoms of a stroke are likely to be things that we experience every day, although not that severe,” Mayer explained. “We may have felt dizzy before, but not like this; we may have been numb before, but not like this.”

As the brain is deprived of oxygen, stroke symptoms begin to develop in succession. “If you experience a series of severe symptoms, it’s a good idea to get checked out,” she advised.

Back in June 2007, Mayer was thought to be suffering from labrynthitis, an inflammatory disorder of the inner ear, so she was sent home with a prescription to treat nausea and a four-to-six week timetable for the condition to be resolved. But her symptoms – lack of balance, dizziness and poor vision – persisted for much longer, prompting an appointment with a neurologist. It wasn’t until an MRI, performed nearly two months after the onset of the symptoms, revealed the presence of a 2-millimeter blood clot and resulting brain stem stroke in an otherwise healthy and very active 37-year-old woman.

The research staff of Dr. Oz’s program learned of Mayer’s near-tragedy through her first-hand account of the misdiagnosis and her unyielding dedication to recover that appeared in “Stroke Connection Magazine.” Mayer was asked to write the two-page article, “Not Feeling Like a Survivor,” by the magazine’s editor, who told her that there are not many young stroke victims who are determined to “get better.”

Mayer’s response to the Dr. Oz invitation was, well, a no-brainer. “It was kind of funny. They called and said they were doing a show on misdiagnosed strokes, and I go, ‘You’ve got the right person.’”

During the taping, Mayer, now 40, recounted to a studio audience of about 200 people the events that happened to her that day and mounting symptoms. The audience gasped when the disclosure of the stroke was made by Mayer herself. Also included in the segment were a multimedia explanation of what happens to the brain during a stroke, identification of four areas of the brain where strokes can occur, and an explanation by another doctor who addressed why strokes, such as the one suffered by Mayer, can be so difficult to identify.

Appearing on a nationally syndicated program was a “big deal” for Mayer. The show furnished all travel arrangements, including limousine service between the airport, hotel and the studio. The program is taped at Studio 6A, across from the studio where “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” is staged, at NBC’s legendary 30 Rockefeller Center.

Mayer found Mehmet Oz, M.D., who is also co-author “You: On a Diet” and other medical advice books, to be “very nice, warm and nurturing, a genuine guy.” In addition to television hosting duties, he serves as vice-chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University and directs the Cardiovascular and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

“The Dr. Oz Show” airs daily, WIVB, Channel 4 WNLO, CW 23.

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