• Cancer Patient Stories

    Routine Executive Health exam leads to cancer diagnosis

Marilyn Dobski and her granddaughter.
Marilyn Dobski and granddaughter

Marilyn Dobski walked away from her first visit to Mayo Clinic with a clean bill of health.

She wasn't as fortunate the second time around.

Dobski and her husband, Tom, first came to Mayo Clinic in 2007 for physicals through Mayo's Executive Health Program.

"We were impressed by the facility and the physicians," says Dobski. The couple, who own 13 McDonald's restaurants in the Lawrence, Kansas, area, were so impressed by the experience that they returned to the Executive Health Program in March 2010.

"I expected another uneventful exam," says Dobski. That expectation quickly changed as Robin Smith, M.D., a preventive medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic, examined Dobski's neck. Dr. Smith detected small growths on Dobski's thyroid gland and arranged for testing. Two days later, Dobski was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

"I was shocked," she says. "There were some tears."

Two days after her diagnosis, Dobski had surgery to remove her thyroid.

"It all happened over such a short time period, which reaffirmed to us that Mayo Clinic is a very efficient place," says Dobski. "It is amazing to me that in less than a week, I was diagnosed with and treated for cancer."

Though things happened quickly, Dobski says she never felt rushed.

"With all of the doctors I met with, I felt like I was their only patient," says Dobski. "Mayo Clinic is an amazing place. The physicians are incredibly caring, knowledgeable and professional. At Mayo, you know that you're dealing with the best of the best."

That was reaffirmed after Dobski's surgery.

"The surgeons told me they were astounded that Dr. Smith found the cancer, because the growths were so small," she says. "I can't help but think of all the 'what ifs?' We're thrilled with the care we've received, and will continue to recommend Mayo to our friends, family and employees."