One day, Dr. Erich Voigt was relaxing while watching TV. Little did he know that he will end up searching for a woman to save her life.
Voigt is an otolaryngologist at NYU Langone Health. He was home, watching “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” at the beginning of May when he saw that Nicole McGuinness had a small lump on her throat.
“I was relaxing after a day of work, watching beautiful beach houses and day-dreaming. But then I noticed the lump. It stood out — and I went from being relaxed to [thinking], gosh, she may have a medical problem,” said Voigt.
In his line of work, he has seen thousands of patients with the same issue, and when he saw Nicole’s lump was asymmetrical and moving under her skin as she spoke, the doctor got worried. He couldn’t rest easy until he knew that the woman was aware of her situation. Then, he said:
“I thought, I don’t think she knows she has this. I felt obliged and sort of guilty, like I should let her know. I paused my TV and rewound it. I had to make a choice whether to ignore it or actively try to contact her.”
Reaching Through Social Media
Voigt realized it was his mission to track Nicole down and tell her of the condition. He posted the clip from the show on Facebook, added a hashtag and asked for his social media network to help him reach her. After two weeks, he got in touch with the woman, who is 32-years-old. He urged her to get a sonogram and a biopsy, and the results showed that she indeed had thyroid cancer.
Nicole McGuinness has survived brain cancer and now follows treatment for her thyroid cancer. She is grateful for Voigt’s efforts:
“It’s just a miracle, in my opinion, that he happened to see this on television.”
She met Voigt on Tuesday in Manhattan when filming a segment for “Good Morning America.”
Voigt hopes that Nicole will beat cancer again, as they found it early, before showing symptoms. He said that social media helped this case:
“Social media can generate fake news and negative feelings — but this time it was used in a good and positive way. It helped someone. It connected people. Helping her was heartwarming and emotional. I’ve held back some tears.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.