Katherine Bensen was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer December 31, 2014. Her lung cancer was found after she reluctantly went to the doctor with a persistent cough. As a healthy and active, non-smoker, the thought of cancer never occurred to her. Tests revealed that Katherine had tumors throughout her lungs and in her lymph nodes, chest and spine. She was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer before she knew what hit her!
Julie Everling has worked as an ICU nurse at Hennepin County Medical Center for over 30 years. She has never smoked. In 2009, Julie began coughing whenever she used the hand sanitizer at work. She wondered if the alcohol fumes were causing a sensitivity. During a physical exam, she mentioned her concern about the cough. She was diagnosed with walking pneumonia.
Laurie Herje began noticing an annoying and persistent cough in April of 2016. She visited the doctor multiple times and was prescribed different medications throughout the summer. After months of treatments for a yet undiagnosed problem, she decided that she was done. She did not want to continue to be medicated. She felt worse than ever and was tired all the time.
In November of 2015, through her monthly self-examinations, Julie Swedberg found a lump in her breast. She immediately had it checked out and was praised by the doctors and nurses for being proactive and attentive to her health and symptoms. The biopsy came back as benign. She breathed a sigh of relief. Julie says, “Little did I know the true enemy was lurking directly behind what I thought was my main risk for cancer.”
Stuart Brown describes himself as a husband and proud father. It took only five months for Stuart to go from being a healthy jogger, to a man living with a stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis. “It was a shock,” reports Stuart. Cancer was found in both lungs and some lymph nodes. Despite having a degree in engineering and liking to know how things work, Stuart avoided research about survival statistics. He said, “Everyone was giving me bad news and I didn’t want to confirm any of it.” Eventually, Stuart did receive some good news. He was found to have the ROS1 mutation which made him eligible for new FDA approved drugs that have shown good results.
Steve Link, MD is a radiologist whose job includes screening for lung cancer. He is a healthy, active 58-year-old and was shocked last year with a lung cancer diagnosis. Steve had fractured several ribs while boogie boarding on vacation in Hawaii. As a radiologist, he knew there was no treatment for rib fractures, so he did not initially get an x-ray. However, when the family returned home, Steve’s wife encouraged him to get an x-ray to see how his ribs were healing.
Renee Vraa Marerro’s sister Julie was a completely healthy 47-year-old until she noticed pain in her neck and shoulder. Her doctor ordered a chest x-ray and soon after, Julie was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer.
Chelsi Podratz Terwey began having chest pain and shortness of breath Spring of 2015. As a normally healthy, 37-year-old wife and mother, she knew something was wrong. Chelsi went to urgent care and was diagnosed with pneumonia. She was prescribed antibiotics and asked to come back for a follow-up visit. Chelsi began feeling better and debated whether to go in for the re-check, but decided to be safe and returned to her doctor. Chelsi was told that since she was feeling better, it was not necessary to do a second x-ray. Chelsi was not comfortable with this decision and insisted that she be rechecked.
Jenni Schwanke developed significant pain in her hip that continued through the summer and fall of 2017. As the pain intensified, she found it difficult to walk. She visited the emergency room ten different times.
In December 2014, I had a bad cough. By March 2015 the persistent cough was wearing me down. I saw my primary doctor who did an x-ray and saw a spot on my lung, but rather than doing a scan he suggested a change in medication. I sought out multiple opinions and medications, eventually returning back to my primary doctor who suggested blood work and ordered a scan. On June 19, 2015, my wife Judy and I went to the scan appointment. My doctor called me to tell me it didn’t look good and that it showed a cancerous tumor.