St. Joseph's Cancer Patient Pain Free After Four Hours of Care

Mike and Beth Rungo with Drs Tobias and Savvides

A few years before his 70th birthday, Mike Rungo went on an exercise kick, working out every day. He lost 50 pounds and says he was feeling pretty good about himself, just as he and his wife of 43 years, Beth, were gearing up for the “golden age” of life.

Although he’d retired from a long career in bookstore management, Mike remained very active—working part time at his local Trader Joe’s in Phoenix, playing guitar at First Fridays and transforming cigar boxes into mini works of art. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, he encountered a sense of fatigue that slowed his whole world down.

Mike was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer that had spread to his ribs and liver. It was a shocking diagnosis at first, but his attitude remains positive. Having watched both his brother and father battle cancers and survive has inspired him and given him hope that he too could survive. He is also extremely grateful to have found the compassionate care he was looking for at the UA Cancer Center at St. Joseph’s with radiation oncologist Dr. Nitika Thawani, Dr. Panos Savvides, Thoracic Cancer Leader, and Dr. Kerry Tobias, Director of Supportive Care and Survivorship.

“These are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” he says. “The cancer center is an oasis for people facing cancer. It’s a light, beautiful building … with four floors of everything you need in the most devastating of times in your life.”

Prior to coming to St. Joseph’s, Mike had endured significant pain from the cancer, but within four hours of a visit with Dr. Tobias, he said he was pain-free. He is currently undergoing immunotherapy, returning every few weeks to St. Joseph’s for checkups with Dr. Savvides and infusion treatments.

“I actually look forward to my treatments, because the medical staff in infusion are always so upbeat,” he says.

The cancer may have slowed him down for bit, but now that he has a working treatment plan and a solid team of experts around him, Mike is hoping this is just a bump in the road. “I’ve told myself I have to deal with the cancer for a while, but then it has to go,” he concludes. “I look forward to putting it in my rearview mirror with the help of the St. Joseph’s cancer team.”

Read more about cancer care at St. Joseph's.