Thyroid cancer survivor's job saved her life

Thyroid cancer survivor's job saved her life

Hollie Rock, 37, works in a physician's office and says she would never have discovered her cancer without her employer's help.

Mood swings and hot flashes tipped off her boss, Endocrinologist Dr. Timothy Gilbert.

"It is not typical of thyroid cancer. The vast majority of the thyroid cancer cases I diagnose have no symptoms at all," explained Dr. Gilbert.

For the 37 year old mother of two, the symptoms were vague and seemed to be related to a hormone imbalance.

"Very would go from point A to point B. It's kind of hard to explain," said Rock.

After abnormal blood work came the ultra sound. Dr. Gilbert discovered a malignant nodule on Rock's thyroid gland. A rarity - he says only about 4 or 5 percent of the solid or fluid filled lumps are cancerous. The next step was to remove the gland entirely.

"By removing the thyroid you simply replace it with thyroid hormones and that has been commercially available for years," said Dr. Gilbert.

Though the "c-word" scared Rock she did have some comfort.

"I know from first hand experience seeing patients everyday what the long term effects are...which kind of makes it a little easier," explained Rock.

"I can honestly say of the several hundred cases that I've diagnosed or that I follow I have never had a patient die of thyroid cancer," said Dr. Gilbert.

Thyroid cancer mostly strikes women and the national cancer institute predicted almost 50,000 died of the disease last year.

Rock had a post-surgery ultrasound and "there's nothing except some residual scar tissue that we expect to be left behind after the surgery," said Dr. Gilbert.

Rock said, "It's a relief."

She is now cancer free and likely to stay that way.