Tarek and Christina El Moussa are the new stars of HGTV’s Flip or Flop, a fun new home improvement show where the couple renovates fixer uppers for families who need it most. But little did they know that in helping others through their show, that they would be helped themselves.

When a concerned viewer emailed Tarek, insisting he go to the doctor, who could have guessed how crucial that email would be.

Ryan Read, a registered nurse from Texas, had been watching a Flip or Flop marathon, when she started to notice a strange lump on Tarek’s throat. The lump was farther down his neck, right by his collar bone.

After seeing the lump in a few episodes, this nurses wrote an urgent email to HGTV, begging the reality TV star to get his throat checked out. Luckily, the network shared the email with Tarek, who in turn got the lump checked out.

Although he had noticed the lump before he email, he hadn’t thought much of it. Which made his MRI test results all the more shocking.

The doctors reported to Tarke and Christina that they found a large goiter in his throat, which is an abnormal swelling of the butterfly-shaped gland below the Adam’s apple, otherwise known as the thyroid. They would have to operate, and quick.

But things were about to get even worse.

After waiting for Tarek during what was supposed to be his half-hour surgery, Christina watched three painful hours go by. When the doctors emerged, they told her that her husband had thyroid cancer; they had to remove his entire thyroid as well as some lymph nodes.

It was a terrifying time in the couples’ life. Tarek is still undergoing treatment, discovering how far along the cancer has gotten in the weeks to come following this interview.

And while the future is up in the air, Tarek and Christina have a lot to be thankful for; mainly, that this observant nurse took the time to send a life-saving email.

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