Sofía Vergara used World Cancer Day 2022 as an opportunity to open up about being a cancer survivor. On February 4, the actor posted an old photo of herself taken shortly after she underwent thyroid cancer surgery more than 20 years ago. In the caption, Vergara reflected on how cancer “became part of my story” and how lucky she feels to be alive.
“At 28, ‘cancer’ was not a word I expected to hear,” Vergara, 49, wrote of the doctor’s appointment when she first learned she had thyroid cancer. “It was just a routine checkup. But the doctors found a lump in my throat, and that word became part of my story.” Following her diagnosis, Vergara started a lengthy cancer treatment process. “I spent countless hours in radiation treatments, and, eventually, in surgery,” she wrote. “Today, I get to call myself a cancer survivor.”
In the photo, Vergara has a scar over her thyroid—the small, butterfly-shaped, hormone-producing gland on the lower front part of the neck. “This was my first acting class after diagnosis and treatment,” Vergara explained in the caption, “and seeing the scar on my throat reminds me of how blessed I felt that day—and every day since.”
Vergara said she feels “lucky and grateful to be in a position to share my story and say: early prevention is so important!!” The Modern Family star urged people to keep up with their routine medical appointments. “Schedule your annual check up for this year if you haven’t already,” she wrote.
Doctors don’t understand what causes the majority of thyroid cancer cases, according to the Mayo Clinic, so they don’t know what people at average risk can do to prevent or lower their risk of getting the disease. (For people at above-average risk, due to certain inherited genetic mutations or living very close a nuclear power plant, preventive surgery or medication may be an option, per the Mayo Clinic.) However, doctors have gotten better at detecting thyroid cancer early. Today, most cases are found sooner than has historically been the case, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), and can be treated successfully.