In January 2004, Jule Erdie was having trouble breathing. As a former smoker, this was nothing new. But something was different this time. He saw his local doctors in New Jersey, who suspected he might have lung cancer.
As the former Assistant Commissioner of Health Administration for the New Jersey Department of Health, Jule was "well aware of the area's best hospitals - including Fox Chase." When he heard lung cancer might be a possibility, he brought his wife along to meet the lung cancer team at Fox Chase Cancer Center, where a CAT Scan confirmed their suspicion. Jule did in fact have non-small cell lung cancer.
Jule's team of physicians included Michael Unger, MD, a pulmonologist, and Melvyn Goldberg, MD, a thoracic surgeon (now retired).
Deciding to Enroll in a Clinical Trial
Jule's evaluation determined that he was a candidate to enroll in a Fox Chase clinical trial that was evaluating "trimodality" treatment (the tri- or 3 modalities being chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery) for patients with locally advanced, but still potentially operable non-small cell lung cancer.
"I considered myself to be very lucky to have the doctors at Fox Chase on my case."
As an academic teaching hospital, Fox Chase is able to offer treatment through clinical trials that may not be available elsewhere in the region. "My diagnosis of lung cancer was terrifying," admitted Jule. "I considered myself to be very lucky to have the doctors at Fox Chase on my case."
The following month, Jule began a course of chemotherapy and radiation therapy designed to shrink the tumor in his right lung, so that he could undergo surgery. The treatment shrank the tumor nicely and in May 2004 Jule underwent surgery at Fox Chase to remove the tumor and lymph nodes. His right lung was preserved thanks to Dr. Unger's careful placement of a bronchial stent to relieve airway obstruction and help Jule breathe easier.
Following his recovery, Jule began a second course of chemotherapy to eliminate any cancerous cells that might have been left behind in order to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
"Everything turned out as I had hoped it would!"
That was 5 years ago. Jule is now 79 years old and feeling great. "Dr. Unger tells me that I look good and sound good. He is pleased with my progress," he shared. "I'm extremely happy with the way everything went. The staff at Fox Chase is terrific. Everything turned out as I had hoped it would!"
"I don't know if I would be here without the fantastic doctors at Fox Chase."
Jule and his wife Patricia have been married for 52 years. They enjoy spending time with their 5 grandchildren. In addition to work, Jule was actively involved with the Police Athletic League in Trenton for over 30 years. "Although I don't run around as much as I used to, we still enjoy traveling and spending time with family," he said. "I don't know if I would be here without the fantastic doctors at Fox Chase. To them I am grateful."