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Chain Reaction

One stubborn cold leads to cancer diagnoses and treatment for Vienna family at University of Missouri Health Care's Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

In January 2007, Jill Fick was having trouble getting over a cold. She visited her family physician after a few weeks had passed and she still wasn’t feeling better. He ordered chest and neck X-rays and found abnormal nodules on her thyroid, a gland in the neck that produces metabolism- regulating hormones.

After visiting an ear, nose and throat physician in Jefferson City, Fick was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She was referred to Robert Zitsch, MD, a head and neck surgeon at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Zitsch diagnosed Fick with medullary thyroid cancer, which had spread to some lymph nodes.

Fick found that she had plenty of support from her loved ones following her diagnosis. Her family members were especially helpful. Her brother, John Roberson, accompanied her to nearly every appointment. And Fick learned she could count on those at Ellis Fischel.

In July 2007, Zitsch performed surgery to remove Fick’s thyroid and lymph nodes in and around her neck. A few months later, with the advice of Zitsch, Fick’s brothers were tested for the gene, called MEN 2, that caused their sister’s cancer. Roberson did have the gene. Following testing, Zitsch diagnosed him with
thyroid cancer as well.