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a photograph of patient Patricia Thomas and her family

Patricia Thomas was trying to keep up her spirits. Her cough was not improving. Already thin, she was not gaining weight and the night sweats had returned. She tried to be optimistic, writing her boyfriend, Bob Stockdale, who was on a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Pacific fighting in World War II. She read his letters again and again. The nurses considered her the most spirited of their patients at Mineral Springs Sanitarium in Cannon Falls, Minn.

It is unclear whether Patsy, as she was called by family and friends, fully realized that she was dying, but her doctors did. It was 1944, and no effective treatment existed for tuberculosis.

About 45 miles away, in Rochester, Minn., however, two doctors at Mayo Clinic were about to make medical history. Read more about Mayo Clinic’s role in developing the first effective tuberculosis treatment.

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