TAMPA — Broadcast journalist Victoria Price wasn’t sure what to think last month when she got the email telling her she might have cancer.
It was six sentences crammed into the subject line: “Hi, just saw your news report. What concerned me is the lump on your neck. Please have your thyroid checked. Reminds me of my neck. Mine turned out to be cancer. Take care of your self.”
The 28-year-old investigative reporter at WFLA-Ch. 8 said she gets a lot of emails. Some come from trolls, others come from worse than that. She almost ignored it.
“This was kind of a weird email to begin with,” Price said. “Maybe someone’s just trying to rile me up? I don’t know. Does this person really have a valid medical opinion?”
Her boyfriend convinced her to go to the doctor. Her glands were swollen. Something might be wrong after all. Bloodwork and an ultrasound were ordered. Something was growing in the middle of her thyroid. Then she had to jump through some coronavirus-related hoops to see a specialist at Tampa General Hospital.
The verdict came on July 21: She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer that was spreading to her lymph nodes.
She will undergo surgery on Monday to remove her thyroid and some lymph nodes as well as perform a biopsy to make sure it isn’t spreading.
After she found out, Price said her friends thought she might have taken the news a little too well. She was cracking jokes hours after her diagnosis. Blame 2020, she said, for helping her roll with the punches.
“This year has just been one thing after another,” she said. “It’s just like ‘Okay, yeah, hit me.”’
After the diagnosis, Price emailed the viewer who reached out to her to say thank you. She didn’t hear back for a few days, but wrote about her experience for WFLA.com on Friday and wondered if she was her “guardian angel.”
“If you’re reading this, don’t feel obligated to write back,” Price wrote in her story on WFLA.com. “You’ve already done so much more than you may realize.”
But then the woman emailed Price back Friday and passed along her phone number. Price said she hopes they can connect once she recovers from surgery.
The viewer did not respond to the Tampa Bay Times’ attempts to contact her. Price said the viewer is out of state right now.
If her surgery goes as planned, Price said, she hopes to get back to work after a week of rest.
“I’m going to relish this weekend not having a big ol’ hole in my neck and whatnot,” Price said. “But I’m excited to get in there and get it done and hopefully get back on my road to recovery and get back to normal life soon.”
Price posted about her diagnosis on Twitter and Facebook late Thursday to update viewers about her upcoming absence and share her gratitude to the viewer who told her to get it checked out. She received an outpouring of support. By late Friday, the tweet had more than 16,800 likes and more than 1,700 comments and retweets.
She was also interviewed by Anne Thompson about the experience on the Friday evening NBC Nightly News report. And as is customary in 2020, the Room Rater Twitter account — which rates the backgrounds of those interviewed via Zoom — gave her a “10/10″ rating.
The response to her diagnosis made Price realize she has crossed paths with many who have been affected by thyroid cancer. She said people don’t talk about it enough.
About 52,890 new cases of thyroid cancer have been detected in 2020, the American Cancer Society estimates. Women are three times more likely to develop the cancer than men.
Price said she hopes to be able to use her platform as a journalist to help raise awareness about thyroid cancer.
“If I can pay it forward to just even one other person the way that this viewer did for me, then I think that just keeps the good karma rolling,” she said.
This story also shows that local reporting is a two-way street, Price said. It’s usually journalists who are out there trying to help viewers and get them answers, she said, but this time it was a viewer who helped her. “It really proves that local news isn’t dead,” Price said.
Price included this message in her WFLA.com story: “ladies…#CheckYourNeck!”