Patient story

Meet Julie

She's an avid gardener, dog lover, and thyroid cancer warrior who found many similarities between her treatment journey and her love of gardening. Watch below to learn more about Julie's journey with RET+ advanced thyroid cancer, including her first symptoms, discovering biomarker test results, and beginning treatment with GAVRETO® (pralsetinib).

RET+=rearranged during transfection positive.

Watch Julie’s story here

I have hundreds and hundreds of different flowers, and bushes, and trees, and vegetables. I have over 55 hydrangeas out there right now. In the springtime, there’s about a thousand daffodils and tulips all over the property. It’s a place that I can go unwind, completely de-stress about anything that’s troubling me. But it also gives me a place to share. I can share food. I can share flowers. I can share comfort. The biggest compliment that I can have is knowing that somebody is out there enjoying it just as much as we are. My husband and I put a lot of love and work into the garden to make it flourish.

My name is Julie, and my journey with RET-positive advanced thyroid cancer started in March of 2020. I noticed that I was having a really difficult time walking up a hill without having to take breaks in between—something I would’ve expected somebody much older to be challenged with. And so I just noticed that the issues with the tightening in my neck and just being short of breath, that all three of those things led me to want to go get it examined.

So I went to just my regular doctor. I had some basic tests done. They did a chest X-ray. They did a basic blood panel, and everything came back fine. No worries. No concerns. And then a few months later, things hadn’t improved. And that’s when I found the lump on my neck. I went back to get an ultrasound and a CT scan, and the results are what sounded the alarm bells. My ENT surgeon found a very large mass in my mediastinum. He did a scope down my throat and said, “Yep, you’ve got thyroid cancer.”

And when we got home that night, it was like, we discussed it and I said, “I’m not leaving your side. I’m going to every single doctor’s appointment with you. And we’re gonna tackle this.”

After consulting with my doctors, I opted to have surgery to remove my thyroid and the mass in April of 2020. Eight days after the surgery, the doctor calls at two o’clock on a Friday afternoon. And I put him on speakerphone. I went into Tony’s office and I said, “Okay, we have the news.” And so he said, “You have a rare and aggressive cancer. It’s called poorly differentiated thyroid cancer.” And I just kept hearing “rare” and “aggressive.” And I didn’t really hear the name of it. And basically he said, “I’ll put a referral in for you to have radiation to your neck. You’ll be put in contact with an endocrinologist.” And basically, “have a nice weekend.” And we were stunned.

So I immediately found an oncologist. My post-surgery CT scan had showed two more nodes that were likely cancerous in my mediastinum. I had a PET scan and I found out the extent of disease and how it had spread.  So the PET scan result gave some really scary news. It told us that the cancer was in both of my lungs. It was on my spine. It was on my liver, and the cancer was not gone. That night that we got those results, when they hit my chart, we cried on the couch for some time. Yeah. It was a hard one. That was a tough night.

We became more appreciative of the little things: our family, the life we had built together. We made things fun, humorous. I think I treat her like she wasn’t sick, like normal. He is so strong. He is so strong. You know, I get bad news and I get scared and I start to worry and he just looks at me like, “We’re gettin’ through this.”

After that night, things changed. The first thing we did with the doctor was look at my biomarker test results—which showed a RET fusion that was driving my cancer. Then we went over the treatment options. I’d never heard of biomarker testing before any of this, but I learned that biomarkers are something that can help doctors determine the type of disease you have and how aggressive it is. Testing for biomarkers may help you and your doctor understand what’s driving your cancer, and allow you to find out if you may be eligible for treatments that target those drivers.

When I found out that I had choices and options because of the RET fusion that was driving my cancer—there were targeted therapies that I could try—that was awesome to know. My doctor shared the experiences that other patients had with a therapy that was approved for advanced RET+ thyroid cancer, called GAVRETO.

After we reviewed all of the information about GAVRETO, including the potential side effects, I was ready to give it a try. I have experienced side effects... some diarrhea and constipation. I have dry mouth. I have just basic overall fatigue. I’m able to still do the things that I enjoyed doing in the past, but I do tire easy.

My care team and I have worked together to help manage these side effects. Thankfully, working from home has allowed me the space to manage these side effects and continue to work at my job. At this point in my treatment journey, I don’t worry as much as I did before. Since being on GAVRETO, I’ve kept my healthcare team informed about how I am feeling day to day. I also continue to get scans as directed by my doctor so that I can monitor my cancer. I’m glad I found my healthcare team and GAVRETO. They’ve given me hope and helped me feel prepared for what lies ahead.

When I first started this journey, I was worried that I would never see my garden grow. And, you know, when I’m out there in that garden, I’m not thinking about my cancer. I am thinking about why won’t my dahlias grow yet? I’m thinking, “Gosh, did I plant my carrot seeds too close to each other this year?”

My advice to anybody that’s going through the same thing as me? It’s the advice I would give to someone who asks about my garden: you’re allowed to start small, as long as you start somewhere. Advocate for yourself. Don’t give up. Knowing what to plant and making a plan can make a big difference. And the same thing can be said when you’re going through something as scary as cancer treatment. You’ll realize that little by little, you’ll be able to take on more than you think.

Julie is a real patient who was diagnosed with RET-positive advanced thyroid cancer. Her experiences may not be representative of all patients. She has been paid to share her story.

Thyroid Sign Up
Sign up to stay in touch

Receive helpful information and updates about GAVRETO, including financial assistance options, tips for taking GAVRETO, suggestions to help you manage common side effects, and more.

Thyroid Doctor Discussion Guide
Ready to talk with your doctor about GAVRETO?

The GAVRETO Doctor Discussion Guide helps you get the most out of your conversations with your doctor.

Important Safety Information & Indications

WHAT IS GAVRETO® (pralsetinib)?

GAVRETO is a prescription medicine used to treat certain cancers caused by abnormal rearranged during transfection (RET) genes in:

  • adults with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread
  • adults and children 12 years of age and older with advanced medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) or MTC that has spread who require a medicine by mouth or injection (systemic therapy)
  • adults and children 12 years of age and older with advanced thyroid cancer or thyroid cancer that has spread who require a medicine by mouth or injection (systemic therapy) and who have received radioactive iodine and it did not work or is no longer working

Your healthcare provider will perform a test to make sure that GAVRETO is right for you.

It is not known if GAVRETO is safe and effective in children younger than 12 years of age.

GAVRETO was approved based on the percentage of patients whose tumor size shrank or disappeared after treatment and how long that response lasted. There are ongoing studies to confirm the benefit of GAVRETO.


GAVRETO may cause serious side effects, including

Lung Problems: GAVRETO may cause severe or life-threatening inflammation of the lungs during treatment, that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new or worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough, or fever.

High blood pressure (hypertension): High blood pressure is common with GAVRETO and may sometimes be severe. You should check your blood pressure regularly during treatment with GAVRETO. Tell your healthcare provider if you have increased blood pressure readings or get any symptoms of high blood pressure, including confusion, dizziness, headaches, chest pain or shortness of breath.

Liver problems: Liver problems (increased liver function blood test results) can happen during treatment with GAVRETO and may sometimes be serious. Your healthcare provider will do blood tests before and during treatment with GAVRETO to check you for liver problems. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any signs or symptoms of liver problem during treatment, including yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes (jaundice), loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, dark “tea-colored” urine, pain on the upper right side of your stomach area, sleepiness, bleeding or bruising.

Bleeding problems: GAVRETO can cause bleeding which can be serious and cause death. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any signs or symptoms of bleeding during treatment, including vomiting blood or if your vomit looks like coffee-grounds, unusual vaginal bleeding, nose bleeds that happen often, pink or brown urine, drowsiness or difficulty being awakened, red or black (looks like tar) stools, confusion, coughing up blood or blood clots, headache, unusual bleeding or bruising of your skin, change in speech, or menstrual bleeding that is heavier than normal.

Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS): TLS is caused by a fast breakdown of cancer cells. TLS can cause you to have kidney failure and the need for dialysis treatment, an abnormal heartbeat, and may sometimes lead to hospitalization. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check you for TLS. You should stay well hydrated during treatment with GAVRETO. Call your healthcare provider or get emergency medical help right away if you develop any of these symptoms during treatment with GAVRETO: nausea, shortness of breath, vomiting, muscle cramps, weakness, seizures or swelling.

Risk of wound healing problems: Wounds may not heal properly during treatment with GAVRETO. Tell your healthcare provider if you plan to have any surgery before or during treatment with GAVRETO. You should not take GAVRETO for at least 5 days before surgery. Your healthcare provider should tell you when you may start taking GAVRETO again after surgery.

Before taking GAVRETO, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have lung or breathing problems other than lung cancer.
  • have high blood pressure
  • have bleeding problems
  • plan to have surgery
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. GAVRETO can harm your unborn baby.

    Females who are able to become pregnant:

    • Your healthcare provider will do a pregnancy test before you start GAVRETO.
    • Should use an effective form of non-hormonal birth control (contraception) during treatment with GAVRETO and for 2 weeks after the final dose of GAVRETO.
    • Birth control methods that contain hormones (such as birth control pills, injections or transdermal system patches) may not work as well during treatment with GAVRETO.
    • Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control methods that may be right for you during this time.
    • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you might be pregnant during treatment with GAVRETO.

    Males with female partners who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control (contraception) during treatment and for 1 week after your final dose of GAVRETO.

  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if GAVRETO passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment and for 1 week after your last dose of GAVRETO.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. GAVRETO may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how GAVRETO works.

The most common side effects of GAVRETO include: constipation, decreased levels of phosphate in the blood, high blood pressure, decreased levels of calcium in the blood, tiredness, decreased levels of body salt (sodium) in the blood, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea, abnormal liver function blood tests, and decreased white blood cell, red blood cell, and platelet counts.

GAVRETO may affect fertility in males and females, which may affect your ability to have children. Talk to your healthcare provider if this is a concern for you.

These are not all of the possible side effects of GAVRETO. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You are encouraged to report side effects to the FDA. Visit FDA MedWatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Please see the full Prescribing Information and Patient Information for GAVRETO.

  • A type of cancer treatment that targets specific types of cancer cells.

  • The most common type of lung cancer, named after the way cancer cells look under a microscope.

  • A type of cancer that forms in the thyroid and is a less common type of thyroid cancer.  

  • Thyroid cancer that has spread to nearby tissue or distant parts of the body.

  • A test performed by your healthcare provider to identify the gene(s) that may impact the way a tumor grows, spreads, or reacts to certain treatments.

  • RET stands for rearranged during transfection, and it’s a type of gene that everyone has within their cells. In specific types of cancer cells, the RET gene is abnormal.

  • The molecules inside cells that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next.

  • May be in the form of fusions or mutations; these genes drive the uncontrolled growth of cells, leading to cancer.

  • RET positive (RET+) stands for rearranged during transfection positive, and the term RET+ is used to describe cancer caused by abnormal RET genes.

  • A molecule or gene measured in tissue, blood, or other bodily fluids that can help determine the type of disease you have, how aggressive it is, and the best treatment.

  • Biomarker testing that is performed by your doctor that includes testing for all of the biomarkers recommended by current guidelines.

  • Standard chemotherapy aims to stop the growth of cancer cells by blocking all rapidly dividing cells. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, or infusion, or put directly on the skin. This depends on the type and stage of cancer being treated.

  • A type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer.

  • A type of lung cancer driven by abnormal RET genes that has spread to other parts of the body.

  • A butterfly-shaped organ that makes hormones to help regulate your heart rate, metabolism, blood pressure, and body temperature.

  • A substance produced by glands in the body that regulates the activities of different cells and organs.

  • A type of targeted therapy that targets multiple types of cancer cells.

  • A type of thyroid cancer driven by abnormal RET genes that has spread to nearby tissue or distant parts of the body.

  • A type of cancer that forms in the thyroid and is the most common type of thyroid cancer.

  • A treatment that shrinks or kills thyroid cells. It is used to treat certain types of thyroid cancer.

  • When cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

  • A piece of DNA that gives the cells in your body instructions to perform certain functions.

  • When a gene breaks off and reattaches to another gene.

  • Any change in a cell’s DNA sequence.

  • When cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

  • May be in the form of fusions or mutations; these genes drive the uncontrolled growth of cells that leads to cancer.

  • All tumors have responded to a treatment and completely disappeared. This does not mean the cancer has been cured.

  • Tumors have responded to a treatment and shrunk in size by at least 30%.