Student volunteers for classroom exam, learns she has cancer

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HENDERSON, Nev. (KSNV) – Erica Stiles was born to help others. The daughter of an optometrist, she always knew the medical field was for her.

“I saw his passion for medicine and always learning new things, always watching these new videos of techniques,” Stiles said.

So, when her class at Touro University began practicing ultrasounds, Stiles volunteered to have her thyroid examined. The professor immediately noticed a problem.

“I thought he was joking, didn’t think he was serious,” Stiles said. “He was like, ‘You do have a thyroid nodule. But 95% are benign, so it’s most likely nothing.’ but he encouraged me to get it checked out just to be sure.”

It turns out Stiles had cancer. Large nodules were growing on both sides of her thyroid.

“I had no symptoms I was aware of,” said Stiles. “Since I’ve had surgery now, I feel like I can notice more. I realize it probably wasn’t normal I liked to take two-hour naps every single day.”

She was diagnosed last October and had surgery over spring break. She did not need chemotherapy or radiation.

Stiles can’t help thinking about how important timing was in finding the cancer.

“if I hadn’t been a student at Touro at this particular time, I don’t know what would’ve happened,” she said. “if I had gotten into P.A. School two years ago, maybe it wouldn’t have been big enough, nobody would have noticed.”

And, if she had not raised her hand to volunteer, she may never have found it in time.

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