High school agriculture teacher Mindy Calisso is back in the classroom, coaching kids competing in floral design, farm management and goat raising for show at county fairs. She credits the collaboration of three doctors and cyber technology at the Community Cancer Institute for helping her overcome a rare and aggressive thyroid cancer and get back to her passion — being with students.
Calisso usually toughs out discomfort and puts off going to the doctor, but persistent back and chest pain propelled her to make an appointment in 2018. An X-ray showed she had masses in her sternum and on her thyroid. After having her thyroid removed, she was referred to hematologist-oncologist Michael Moffett at the Cancer Institute, who diagnosed her with metastatic medullary thyroid cancer and ordered more scans.
“It had spread to my sternum and my spine, and my liver, my lung and my hip,” she describes. “So that just brought a whole new wave of emotions … Dr. Moffett told me, ‘Don’t look (the cancer) up.’ That was his advice. He did a good job of making me feel comfortable.”
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