“I said, ‘Look at this weird email I just got,'” Price recalled, an investigative reporter for the NBC WFLA contributor.
A woman from overseas had seen a report from Price on the evening news a few hours earlier and had seen something bothering her, she said.
“Hello, I just saw your news report,” the viewer wrote. “What bothered me is the lump in my neck. Please check your thyroid. It reminds me of the neck. Mine turned out to be cancer. Take care of yourself.”;
Price, who had never noticed anything unusual about the appearance of her neck, said she did not think the message was worth taking seriously.
“He said, ‘You know, you said you felt a little more tired than usual these last few months,'” Price said. “He told me I should call my doctor and check him out.”
A few weeks later, after she had an ultrasound and a blood panel examination, Price received some startling news: She had papillary thyroid cancer that had begun to spread to her lymph nodes. Her doctor recommended that she have surgery as soon as possible.
“It was clarified to me that I had a large nodule growing right in the middle of my thyroid, and this was pushing my gland in order to swell from the side of my neck,” Price said. “That was what the woman who emailed me noticed. Luckily for me, she managed to figure it out.”
On July 27, Price underwent surgery at Tampa General Hospital to remove her thyroid. Her surgeon also removed 19 cancerous lymph nodes, she said, and she was relieved to learn that she did not immediately need to undergo any follow-up treatment other than daily hormone replacement medication.
“It’s a great kindness that someone noticed her on television and told her about it, but discovering it actually is not uncommon,” said Gary Clayman, Price’s surgeon and director of the Clayman Thyroid Center in Tampa, explaining that a common symptom is a noticeable mass in the neck.
“Victoria is lucky that this was discovered sooner rather than later,” he added.
Days before the operation, in a Twitter post, Price warned WFLA viewers of her diagnosis and thanked the observer alien who may have saved her life.
“As a journalist, it has been a complete drowning since the beginning of the pandemic,” she wrote. “Endless changes in an endless cycle of news. We were covering the most important health history in a century, but my own health was the most distant thing from the mind. Until a viewer emailed me last month.
“It turns out, I have cancer,” Price wrote. “And I owe it to one of our wonderful @WFLA viewers who brought it to my attention. I’ll be off for a while tomorrow, but I’ll see you soon.”
She was surprised, she said, when her tweet quickly built nearly 20,000 likes.
“Never in a million years did I think he would develop this kind of reaction,” she said. “Everyone’s kindness, love and concern has been overwhelming.”
Now back at work, Price said he hopes to set up a foundation before the end of the year to promote thyroid cancer awareness for young adults.
“I think it’s important to make this something that is discussed more often, just as we discuss breast cancer and prostate cancer,” Price said. “My goal is to create a platform for young professionals who may not go to the doctor so often.”
If not for that vigilant viewer, Price said, she could have gone for months without knowing she had a problem.
“What if I were an accountant working in an office? Or what if I worked from home? ” she said. “I’m lucky that a lot of people see me because of my job. It’s very modest to know that this person took the time to shoot me this little email. Your health is your fortune – without it, you have nothing.”
Pricing remained calm when she learned she had cancer, she said, probably because of her journalistic background.
“I took a few seconds to process it then she said, ‘Okay, what is the game plan? What are we going to do about it?'” She said. “TV reporters are followers of chaos – we are always 30 seconds in airtime, covering the problems that need to be solved. So it takes a little more to slander me, I think, an average person.”
The woman who noticed suspicious lumps in her neck is a mother with several children who does not want any attention for her potentially saving act, Price said.
“We have exchanged texts back and forth and hope to gather at some point,” she said. “I’m very grateful for what she did. If she had not sent that email, I could never have seen my doctor, and the cancer would continue to grow.
“I just want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for what he did,” she said.