Julie Swedberg

julie-swedbergBack in November of 2015, I felt a lump in my breast. I immediately panicked and went to the doctor right away. I was praised about how proactive I was being for being so attentive to my health and the symptoms that were presenting. The biopsy came back as benign, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Little did I know that the true enemy was lurking directly behind what I thought was my main risk for cancer.

Fast forward to April 2016. I started developing a cough in late March, and by mid April, I finally decided I needed to get it checked out. Although I felt completely fine (no fever, no malaise, just the cough), I knew that something wasn’t right for me to be coughing that much. The doctors took x-rays and diagnosed it as pneumonia. After my first round of antibiotics, the cough still persisted, so they put me on prednisone. Still no relief. I felt foolish repeatedly going back to the doctor. I was told “it takes up to 8 weeks for pneumonia to clear up, give it time.” Finally, after my third x-ray and my third doctors visit, I asked for a CT scan. The CT scan showed a large nodule in my right lung. I immediately was scheduled for a biopsy, PET scan and an MRI.

It was official: I had stage IV adenocarcinoma, with cancer in both lungs, mets to my breast bone, and cancer in my lymph nodes near my esophagus (which was causing my cough). My biopsy was sent for molecular profiling and came back as EGFR positive, so I am on Tarceva, a targeted chemotherapy that I take daily. My last scans in September showed no cancer in my left lung, my breast bone has healed, the lymph nodes are clear, and there is a significant reduction in the tumors in my right lung.

As a trained CPA, I’ve always been influenced by numbers and the story they tell. Imagine my surprise when I learned of all the “numbers/statistics” of lung cancer. How can lung cancer be the deadliest cancer, yet receive so little funding? How can so many women be dying of this disease, yet so many are unaware? This is a true injustice. So now the lung cancer world has a new advocate. I want to be part of the movement that helps change these “numbers”. I won’t be just a statistic. I will be an advocate, an educator, and an activist, and I’m so thankful that ABOHLF is showing me the way