Immunotherapy Gives Former Olympian the Edge Over Lung Cancer
Advocacy One decorated athlete, a blindsiding diagnosis, an innovative method of eradicating lung cancer — this is Jeff Julian’s remarkable story of survival.
Almost a year ago, a former Olympic contender announced via Facebook that he was battling stage 4 lung cancer. Today, thanks to a supportive community and the help of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Jeff Julian is now nearly cancer free and the newly-appointed assistant swim coach for the USC Trojans, his alma mater.
Jeff was just 39 years old when he was first diagnosed, and never smoked a day in his life. During his time at USC, Julian was a member of the U.S. National Team, a silver medalist at the World University Games, a PAC-10 champion, a NCAA Silver Medalist, eight-time All American and an Olympic Trials finalist.
“Jeff was given just 6 to 12 months to live.”
Despite these athletic achievements, he received the news from his doctor last January that he had stage 4 lung cancer, and it had spread to 27 places in his body. Jeff was given just 6 to 12 months to live.
The clinical trial
Now, nearly two year later, thanks to a supportive community and resources like the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Jeff was able to enroll in a specialized clinical trial a month after being diagnosed, an opportunity that he now credits for ultimately saving his life.
The trial was testing a combination of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company’s cancer immunotherapy drugs, which work by removing the masks that shield cancer cells from detection by the immune system, and allow the body to extinguish the cancer like it would any other disease. This immunotherapy treatment allowed Jeff to extend his life expectancy, and now successfully begin the road back to being fully cancer-free.
Jeff knows how difficult it was to get help. That is why he now serves on the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Creates Patient Care Advisory Board, a patient-led movement to drive better outcomes for lung cancer patients through awareness, education and shared experiences.