Cancer Care and New Treatment Options With Oncologist Timothy Toonen - Transciption

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Our episode of the Optimal Health Podcast includes a transcript of the episode’s audio. The text is the output of AI based transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors and should not be treated as an authoritative record. Nothing that you read here constitutes advice, medical or otherwise. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making changes to a healthcare plan.


[00:00:00] Pete Waggoner: Welcome to the Optimal Health Podcast from Hudson Physicians, getting you back to optimal health when you're feeling sick, stressed, overwhelmed, or rundown. Today we have a great guest and we are excited to talk about this one. Dr. Timothy Toonen is here from Minnesota Oncology. They, by the way, will be opening up a clinic in Hudson, obviously in the new facility as services continue to expand. 

[00:00:26] So today we're gonna take a deep dive into Minnesota Oncology. We're gonna talk to Dr. Toonen. We'll learn all about him and his background and all of the great things that are gonna be available, especially from an outpatient perspective in the new Hudson facility. 

[00:00:41] Let's take a look at Dr. Toonen right now. His education and residency were at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In, of course, Madison, Wisconsin, home of Bucky. Internship at the University of W as well with hospitals and clinics in Wisconsin. Also has a fellowship in oncology in hematology at [00:01:00] Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. We're gonna get into that in a second. His areas of special interest are colon cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, coagulation disorders, hematology, leukemia, lymphoma, and, how do I say that word? 

[00:01:15] Timothy Toonen: Myelodysplasia. 

[00:01:16] Pete Waggoner: Thank you. There's Dr. Toonen, my way of bringing him in. Welcome to the show. Glad to have you here on Optimal Health. Dr. Toonen, obviously you like to stay active with your family. You enjoy warm weather travel destinations, and also you've completed several marathons.

[00:01:31] Timothy Toonen: Yeah. 

[00:01:31] Pete Waggoner: Including Boston. 

[00:01:32] Timothy Toonen: Yeah, that was a long time ago. 

[00:01:34] Pete Waggoner: Well, one time is good enough for this cat, so that's absolutely fantastic.

[00:01:39] So what warm weather destinations do you like to hit? 

[00:01:41] Timothy Toonen: We like to go to beaches, relax on, you know, in Mexico and Florida and you know, the pandemic kind of hampers that a little bit, but you know, we're back at it now, so that's good. 

[00:01:52] Pete Waggoner: kind of brought you back to earth a little bit, didn't it?

[00:01:54] Timothy Toonen: Absolutely. 

[00:01:55] Pete Waggoner: Well that's great. And so you've got a great balance of life and work and the things that have gone [00:02:00] on and, you know, you've been at this spot here at Minnesota Oncology now for 20 years, right out of residency, correct? 

[00:02:05] Timothy Toonen: Correct. Yeah. 

[00:02:06] Pete Waggoner: So let's talk a little bit about you and in your early life of trying to figure out what do I want to do when I grow up? What led you to medicine and was there a a time in your life where it just clicked? 

[00:02:18] Timothy Toonen: I mean, I grew up in De Pere, Wisconsin, the suburb of Green Bay. So hopefully people from Wisconsin might know where De Pere is. No one in my family had been in medicine and in high school, I enjoyed science and I went to Madison, anticipating I'd be a scientist, maybe do some bench research.

[00:02:33] And through my time there I was able to meet up with a bunch of great mentors, some who were MDs and I did some research in the laboratory and was able to meet some people and kind of steered me to medicine. And so I thought that would be an opportunity and I wasn't really sure. I applied to medical school not having great expectations or of even getting in, but was able to get in and so, and went to Madison.

[00:02:58] And in terms [00:03:00] of specializing in oncology, I think that, , that was an interesting journey for me. Because when you do medicine and do medical school, you have to pick a residency program and wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. Wasn't really sure that medicine was even the right thing to do.

[00:03:18] So I was kind of looking at doing pathology. So where I. really have patient interaction. And, then I met a group of community-based oncologists that I did a rotation with in Madison. And they just had a great sense of patience and patient care and caring for them and had fun doing what they did.

[00:03:39] And that kind of made me think about that a little more and you know, I'm really glad I met those folks because they helped me choose oncology, choose internal medicine, and then oncology. 

[00:03:50] Pete Waggoner: So in the process of that, was working in this area a good move for you? It must be. You're still doing it. But I mean, so you, you come [00:04:00] across it must say, wow, that worked. 

[00:04:02] Timothy Toonen: Right. I think because you're never sure, I didn't have any exposure to medicine, you know, how do you communicate with patients and learning is a process. Theres stumbles along the way.

[00:04:12] Hopefully I've become better at it, more empathetic, more compassionate toward folks. But it wasn't always that way, and I think that experience has helped me and having some family members with cancer helped them along the way that's helped develop compassion and caring for patients.

[00:04:31] Pete Waggoner: So with what you do, I mean, we've all been touched by so many people that we know. You hear terms sometimes you don't really get to it, you don't really know what is what, what really is the practice of oncology and at what level in all of this do you come into play? 

[00:04:48] Timothy Toonen: Sure, sure. I think that oncology again is the specialty of treating cancer. Medical oncologist, which I am, is the nonsurgical treatment and non radiation treatment of cancer. So when [00:05:00] someone is diagnosed with cancer, we help determine a course of action, whether surgery might be an option for them or they need treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. And a lot of times people, their primary care physician might be concerned that they might have cancer. 

[00:05:17] Well, one of the things I've learned in 20 years is when that concern is raised, people want things done immediately. Right? There's high anxiety. And so sometimes we need to step in as oncologists to help direct a path toward a diagnosis. 

[00:05:36] And I think we do that at Minnesota Oncology. We try to make a policy if a referring physician wants us to see a patient. We see them within 24 hours. So I think that's really helped us and helped the patient kind of, you know. 

[00:05:49] We know might not have all the answers. Certainly a lot of times we don't on the first visit, but I think it gives patients a sense that we care about them, right?

[00:05:58] We're there. They [00:06:00] know someone that's gonna be like a lot of times they don't know who they're going to. They can't get an appointment for two weeks. And so I think starting that process for them right away is helpful to them. 

[00:06:14] Pete Waggoner: Call me. Right? So, and that has to help at least if you're mentally in the game as a patient, you know, where you're not, for lack of better terms, freaking out. And if that can calm the process, it might make the process of what you need to do a little bit manageable, at least personally for the individual, I'm sure. And every situation must be different. So I have to say personally as just for what you guys do what do we do without you, you know, I mean, it's such a quiet thing that just happens to people and what you guys do, I think is just a huge impact.

[00:06:51] And think about the people that have been healed along the way. I'm sure you have a million success stories that you can speak of, and there's some situations where there's really probably not much you [00:07:00] can do either, right? I mean, it's just the nature of the deal. 

[00:07:03] To that point, how have things evolved over time from when you first came into this having been, well, you know, we don't have a lot of time here, you know, to, we can really treat this.

[00:07:15] Timothy Toonen: Sure. I think over the 20 years although, you know we've made great advances, certainly maybe not curing people, but, I think, prolonging life expectancy and also making the quality of life when people are undergoing cancer treatment much more tolerable. I think that with the advent of what we call targeted therapies such as immunotherapy and other targeted therapies, oral targeted therapies, that has really revolutionized cancer care, cancer treatment, and cancer outcomes.

[00:07:48] So I think it's gone from, you know inpatient hospital-based chemotherapy to outpatient chemotherapy to outpatient immunotherapy and [00:08:00] oral treatments as an evolution of cancer treatment over the 20 years that I've been. 

[00:08:05] Pete Waggoner: So was a lot of this stuff where you would just go in and you would stay?

[00:08:09] Yeah. How long would those stays be? 

[00:08:11] Timothy Toonen: They could certainly be you know, days in the hospital. 

[00:08:14] Pete Waggoner: Wow. 

[00:08:15] Timothy Toonen: And then, so it is part of a community-based oncology 20, 25 years ago groups like mine said we can do this. And as an outpatient where you could get the infusion and go home, you might need to come back to the clinic the next day, but certainly you didn't stay in the hospital the entire potentially four to five days. 

[00:08:37] So I think that that helps patients when they're able to leave a hospital. Certainly, you know, that I think is beneficial. And that again, as a community oncology, that decreases the total cost of care if you don't have to be in a hospital because there's a hospital bed.

[00:08:54] Because there's expenses with that you know, add to the total cost of care of a patient. 

[00:08:58] Pete Waggoner: So the term [00:09:00] community oncology is basically meaning you stay in the community, you go home, right? And, and you can function. So when you're going through some, I'm, I'm sure every treatment is a little bit different, but what are the levels of, obviously the hospital beds serve a purpose for some things. 

[00:09:17] Are there things that are being done that aren't as, oh, I don't wanna say taxing, but I mean, has, has the treatments changed or evolved in that way where you're going through things, but maybe not like someone was 40 years ago? 

[00:09:31] Timothy Toonen: Yes, I think we also have better what we call supportive care medications, so treatment of nausea, prevention of nausea. I think that's one of the major factors of people with fear of getting chemotherapy, receiving chemotherapy other side effects such as, you know, gastrointestinal distress, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. Those things are better treated and if we treat them prior to initiating treatment, a lot of times [00:10:00] people don't have any side effects or minimal side effects related.

[00:10:04] Pete Waggoner: So the question for you in that terms is you have a relationship with the Mayo Clinic Care Network as well. Can you define that and explain how that process is? 

[00:10:12] Timothy Toonen: Sure. Mayo Clinic has a care network where as a group of physicians, we're not the only one, but there's other oncology groups and other groups that are involved in this, where we have to demonstrate high quality care to the Mayo Clinic because of their level of expertise. And then so that helps us or that allows us to be part of the care network. 

[00:10:34] And with the care network that allows our expertise to be combined with Mayo Clinic, so our patients at no additional cost to them, we can have an electronic consult with the Mayo.

[00:10:47] Where the Mayo Clinic would review all pertinent information, including radiology or pathology, biopsy specimens and review our plan and to be sure that's the best [00:11:00] level of care. So kind of a second opinion without going to the Mayo Clinic. They also allow us to present at what we call tumor boards, where experts, surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, all review the patient's information and develop a treatment plan for them so you can have the experts of the expertise in Mayo Clinic and our expertise at Minnesota Oncology together. And I think that exponentially adds to patient care and comfort and knowing that they have the best treatment options available to them. 

[00:11:33] Pete Waggoner: That's pretty incredible. And in the digital age now, it's easy to share things, I'm sure. 

[00:11:39] Timothy Toonen: Correct. Yeah. 

[00:11:39] Pete Waggoner: And, and a process in which you, you go where they're seeing the same things you are, and they're getting that second opinion, which is really, who'd have ever thought, you know?

[00:11:49] When you think back to how all this works, so then you have a comprehensive full circle of care with Minnesota Oncology. What exactly is that and how does that function? [00:12:00] 

[00:12:00] Timothy Toonen: I think that means from the moment we receive information that a referring physician or if you want, if you're concerned about something yourself that we are attentive to you, we get you in quickly.

[00:12:14] We allow you know, to get the information, all relevant information in the community setting and we can provide comprehensive care. Some of our locations will be able to do even biopsies at the new Hudson facility through the ambulatory surgery center to get that information.

[00:12:33] Sometimes, a lot of times, people need to go to a hospital. So we can do that as an outpatient again and then give appropriate treatment chemotherapy, all in the community, all in the Hudson area. No need to go down or over to the Twin Cities. And I think that bringing care to the patient is what? Minnesota Oncology is all about. 

[00:12:56] Pete Waggoner: So with that full circle of care that can occur [00:13:00] in the new Hudson Physicians facility, we've got a whole corridor of Western Wisconsin who now doesn't have to drive everywhere to do things. Really beneficial for everybody. And then they can just come see you in your nice facility right off the main door.

[00:13:16] You will be able to see people in February, correct? 

[00:13:19] Timothy Toonen: Correct, yes. 

[00:13:20] Pete Waggoner: But then treat them there a little bit later on in the year. Is that correct? 

[00:13:23] Timothy Toonen: Yeah. Yeah. So our build out won't be complete till potentially the summer of well, we're shooting for May, may, May 1st, 2023. But I'll be able to see patients at the Hudson facility starting February 1st for a day a week, and then, you know, just kind of meeting the physicians there and, and helping them out. And I think that's gonna be really important because we're in the same facility. So I'll be able to even walk over to the Hudson Physicians and ask them. 

[00:13:50] And you know, I think that being in the same facility potentially allows for patients to be seen that same day. If they come in with a concern. [00:14:00] 

[00:14:00] Pete Waggoner: Back to what you said earlier, when, you wanna do within that 24 hours. Right? 

[00:14:04] Timothy Toonen: Right. 

[00:14:04] Pete Waggoner: That's absolutely what a benefit that is. And for you, I know it's just like a skip right over the border because you're living in the St. Paul area, correct? 

[00:14:14] Timothy Toonen: Yes. 

[00:14:15] Pete Waggoner: But you're back in Wisconsin having been you know, born and raised there, lots of school there. That has to be kind of nice to feel like you're somewhat back home a little bit. 

[00:14:24] Timothy Toonen: Absolutely. I mean, I, you know, my roots are in Wisconsin and I'll never forget them. And you know, still a Badger Packer, brewer, puck fan. I never turned purple, so.

[00:14:33] Pete Waggoner: God bless you for that. Well, I was actually born in Milwaukee. We moved here and I was like a year and a half, and so I've been purple and my dad was just disowning me when I was like six. I didn't even know what he was talking about, but now I, now I get it. You know, so I should have had the Birthright Packer fan in me, but I guess I never do, but I have a lot of respect for the green and gold, a ton of it.

[00:14:55] So which is rare for a Viking fan because I know it's a little rough. Trust me, [00:15:00] I've observed. So final question for you. As you embark upon this new partnership, there's a lot of heavyweights in the medical industry that are part of this Hudson Physicians' building and group. Can you feel the energy of positivity that are around all of these great providers that have, you know, really said, okay, Western Wisconsin, we've got you. Can you feel that? 

[00:15:25] Timothy Toonen: Yes. Yeah, I think it's an important you know, associate eye care and twin Cities orthopedics. I think, you know the message that we're here for you, we are excited to bring care to your community. Yeah. And bring independent physician driven practice to the community. 

[00:15:45] Pete Waggoner: Dr. Timothy Toonen. Great stuff. Jumping on board over at the Hudson Physician's new facility. It's gonna be awesome to have you there. And I'd like to remind everybody that the open house for the public will be Thursday, January 12th from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. [00:16:00] Address is 2651 Hillcrest Drive. That's in Hudson.

[00:16:04] It's on the north side of Highway 94 and Carmichael. I'm sure everybody knows, but just in case you haven't and you wanna jog over, it's worth doing that. Everything's on the website too as well. Dr. Toonen, thanks for your time today. 

[00:16:16] Timothy Toonen: Thank you so much, Pete. 

[00:16:17] Pete Waggoner: Loved it. That's gonna do it for this edition of the Optimal Health Podcast. I'm Pete Waggoner. So long everybody.