I probably owe my life to Marianne.

Member First Name
| February, 8 2014 | for Marianne M. Fleming, MD

I probably owe my life to Marianne. When I was in my early 40's, I was lucky enough to have chosen her to work with me. I felt bad all the time, and I got a lot of colds and infections. Dr. Fleming began interviewing and testing and poking and prodding. Something no test showed up was a small bump or nodule on my thyroid that today most doctors wouldn't catch. I got a test from another physician that basically involved stabbing me in the base of the neck with a large, long needle at least 4 times to try to get a sample of the nodule cells. We found out later he missed every time. Dr. Fleming was persistent and ordered quarterly sonograms. A year later, the physician called me and said ...we need to get this thing out.

Thinking it was a benign nodule, I went into surgery. When I woke up, I saw a hospital clergy standing over me (turns out that was just a coincidence, but it was alarming) and my father announcing to me in his usual blunt way that I had a malignant cancer. They had tested the nodule when they removed it and seen that it was cancerous, kept me under sedation, and removed the entire thyroid gland.

The Aiken nuclear weapons facility upstream dumped iodine-131 and tritium into the Savannah River in previous years.. This is a known cause of thyroid cancer, especially in exposed children. I ate a LOT of local shellfish all my life that when boiled become red from the iodine they contain.

After 3 ablations which involve actually ingesting radioactive tablets of iodine-131 from lead-lined containers, it appears all my thyroid cells, whether cancerous or not were killed. Although I'd like to have a functioning thyroid gland, life has been pretty good these last 17 years.

Dr. Fleming is now guiding me through the maze of choices regarding recovery from a literally ruptured L3-L4 disk, and she has been extremely helpful. I have never known so much pain, but it is clearly getting better now, and I thank her for all her help.