Felicia’s journey started in June 2014 when after eight years in
San Diego, she moved back to Visalia. In San Diego, she had been diagnosed
with an overactive thyroid, but she was still losing weight and was starting
to have heart palpitations. She sought help from the now late endocrinologist
Dr. James Mohs, M.D., in Visalia.
“He was honestly my guardian angel. He did everything the other doctors
should have,” said Felicia, noting that on her first visit, Dr.
Mohs did a scan of her neck that detected two nodules or lumps in the
gland at the base of her neck. He ordered blood work and referred her
to a surgeon. “You would think in a big city like San Diego, a doctor
would have known how to help me, but it wasn’t until I saw Dr. Mohs
that I felt at ease. He was a really good doctor.”
After surgery by Dr. Abiy Meshesha, M.D., Felicia was “excited to
feel normal again,” but instead, she learned that the nodules were
cancerous. It was recommended that she preventatively remove the rest
of her thyroid. “I said, ‘Do whatever you have to to keep
Felicia underwent radiation therapy at Kaweah Delta Medical Center and
could not have visitors for three days; the radiation in her body could
harm others. She was surprised when Radiation Oncologist Youssef Hanalla,
M.D., came into her room. “I told him I couldn’t have visitors.
He said, “I’m not worried about that; I’m worried about
you.’ I found that very comforting,” she said.
Twice a month for a year, Felicia drew strength from her visits with Dr.
Hanalla and registered nurse Julio Sanchez at Sequoia Regional Cancer
Center. “They always said, ‘You’re going to get through
this, and we’re here to help you,” she said.
Felicia’s family was also there for her, including her nieces Taylor,
4, and Riley, 7. Felicia suffered a miscarriage during her initial diagnosis,
so she cherishes her relationship with her nieces. “I do look back,
but at the same time, I look at how far I’ve come,” she said.
“I’m alive. I have two nieces, and I’m in their lives
and they are very close. I pulled through everything that was thrown at
The scar on Felicia’s neck has signaled others with thyroid cancer
to ask her about her experience. “I tell them, ‘Keep your
circle positive, have a good support system and go in with a positive
attitude,’” said Felicia, who has been in remission since 2015.