Worth More than an Apple a Day: Why You Need Your Regular Physical

BrentLike a lot of people, Brent Strukely only visited the doctor when he was sick.

“I looked at myself as a pretty healthy, physically active person,” said the 47-year-old Springfield resident. “When everything’s going well, you’re invincible. In that mindset, I just ignored going to the doctor.”

And he might have kept ignoring it, had he not decided to look into a new primary care physician.

In August 2013, Brent set up a typical new patient “meet and greet” with Dr. Gustavo Mosquera at Memorial Physician Services – Chatham. The actual appointment, however, was anything but typical.

“Dr. Mosquera took a step back and looked at me. He approached me and started feeling around my neck,” Brent said. “Then he told me I had a lump that needed to be checked out.”

The lump was sizeable, but Brent hadn’t seen it before.

“The wild thing is I shave every day and I didn’t notice it,” he said. “After he pointed it out, I could feel it—I could even see it.”

After that, Dr. Mosquera referred Brent for an ultrasound, then a biopsy—one that came back positive. He was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma, the most common form of thyroid cancer.

Within one month of that initial appointment, Brent underwent a total thyroidectomy at Memorial Medical Center. He subsequently received synthroid to supplement the loss of the thyroid as well as radioactive iodine to ablate remaining thyroid tissue to prevent future growth. Later this month, Brent will undergo a full-body scan—one that will hopefully show successful treatment and no more cancer.

“The whole thing has been a whirlwind,” he said. “I’m very thankful that it went so fast because the more time you sit and think, the more you make problems for yourself. I haven’t had the time to think ‘woe is me.’”

For the husband and father of five children and step-children, Brent sees his initial physical as “divine intervention” and is forever grateful he went.

“I’m a firm believer in seeing the doctor regularly now,” he said. “You may not be as healthy as you think you are. If I’d ignored things even longer, who knows what the outcome could have been?

This is part two in a series on the importance of wellness checkups. Read part one.