Ask the Experts Panel / Questions and Answers

Midwest Lung Cancer Patient Summit Presentation:

Paul Thurmes, MD, Minnesota Oncology; Manish Patel, OD, University of Minnesota; Julie Swedberg, Lung Cancer Survivor. 


Paul Thurmes, MD:

Dr. Paul Thurmes is a medical oncologist and hematologist with Minnesota Oncology, where he also serves as Medical Director. Dr. Thurmes is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, and Hematology. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. He is active in providing patients access to clinical trials and has a primary interest in lung cancer.



Manish Patel, OD:

Dr. Patel is a medical oncologist at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. He is a lung cancer specialist caring for patients and doing research on new therapies for lung cancer. Dr. Patel was the proud recipient of the first A Breath of Hope Research Fellowship in 2014. His research is focused on immune therapy for lung cancer and he is testing novel forms of immune therapy in the laboratory and in clinical trials. He has remained active at A Breath of Hope over the years speaking at numerous events and currently serving on the Board of Directors and Research Committee.

Dr. Patel is dedicated to advancing the treatment of lung cancer –finding better and safer forms of treatment that result in better survival and, ultimately, cure of patients with this disease. Dr. Patel and his wife, Sheetal juggle busy medical careers while raising three lively boys. He is an avid lifelong tennis player and enjoys taking the family on hikes and camping.


Julie Swedberg, Lung Cancer Survivor:

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.

Fast forward to spring of 2016 when Julie developed a cough in late March. By mid-April, she decided to get it checked out. Other than the cough and a little shortness of breath, she felt completely fine. The doctors immediately suspected pneumonia and took an x-ray. Seeing a spot on the x-ray, they confirmed the pneumonia diagnosis and sent her on her way with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the cough persisted and after another visit to the doctor, she was put on a steroid. She still felt no relief. Julie felt foolish repeatedly going back to the doctor but she was told that it takes up to eight weeks for pneumonia to clear up. The doctor said, “Just give it time.”

At the end of May, coughing non-stop at this point, Julie asked for a CT scan of her lungs. After the doctor ordered another x-ray and noticed the spot had enlarged, he finally ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a large nodule in her right lung. She was immediately scheduled for a biopsy, PET scan and an MRI.

Julie was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma, with cancer in both lungs, lymph nodes and metastases to her breast bone. Julie’s biopsy was sent for genetic sequencing and came back as the EGFR, deletion 19 mutation. Because of the mutation, Julie was able to take a targeted therapy as her first line treatment.

After about 20 months on her first line of treatment, she started to experience pain in her lower left femur. After going to urgent care to check it out, she was diagnosed with a 6 cm tumor in her femur. Julie was quickly scheduled for surgery in which they curetted the tumor and installed a metal plate from her knee to her hip to stabilize the leg and prevent breakage. After several months of recovery, Julie then underwent two weeks of radiation to her left leg in the hopes of eliminating any microscopic cancer cells.

At the same time, Julie switched from her first line of treatment to her second line of treatment. Her PET scan in September of 2018 showed some additional progression in her lymph nodes, so her dose was doubled, but the nodes kept increasing. A bronchoscopy to test for possible resistance mutations revealed a resistance mechanism known as MET amplification within the lymph nodes. Doctors then introduced a third targeted treatment, crizotinib, to be used in combination with osimertinib.

She is now on her fourth line of treatment, a Phase I (first-in-human) clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic.

See Julie’s story here: