Small Gland, Big Impact
Olivia Phillips had always been a happy and giggling girl. But during her 7th grade year, the teen wasn’t feeling herself. Bouts of anxiety and nausea left Olivia and her parents concerned and confused. She had been healthy at her annual pediatric checkup before seventh grade, but the symptoms had been happening on-and-off for several months. Until one day, Olivia’s dad noticed a lump on her neck. The lump turned out to be a thyroid nodule that was overproducing thyroid hormone — a so-called “hot” nodule. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in the front of the neck, just above the collarbone. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism and helps control blood calcium levels. In children, thyroid hormones are important for normal growth and development.
Thankfully, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has established the Vanderbilt Pediatric Thyroid Nodule and Cancer Program. The program brings together clinicians from all the specialties that care for patients with thyroid nodules and cancer. Among them are endocrinologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, interventional radiologists and nuclear medicine specialists. They meet regularly as a team to review and personalize care for patients and to engage in research efforts. Olivia underwent surgery at Monroe Carell to remove the nodule and part of her thyroid gland, and she’s better than ever. The remaining half of her thyroid is functioning normally, and she doesn’t have to take medication. “She’s a different person this school year,” her mother said.
Gifts from dedicated donors like you help create lifechanging, innovative programs like the Vanderbilt Pediatric Thyroid Nodule and Cancer Program.