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Sofia Vergara opens up about struggle with thyroid cancer

Sofia Vergara is known for her role as the bubbly, trophy wife Gloria on the hit TV show “Modern Family.”  But 13 years ago, she played another significant role: cancer patient.

When she was just 28 years old, Vergara was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

“Going through the whole process of getting my thyroid out, then the radiation and all the stuff, of course you change your life – because your priorities change,” Vergara, 40, told FoxNews.com.  “You realize that no matter how much beauty, money, success you have – if you don’t have health, you have nothing, because you can’t do anything.”

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of the neck.  It produces hormones that regulate metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

Related: Celebs With Thyroid Disorders

According to the National Institutes of Health, thyroid disorders have increased in the United States over the past two decades. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that thyroid cancer is becoming more common in the U.S., increasing by 140 percent between 1973 and 2002. However, thyroid cancer is treatable in most cases.

Having her thyroid removed left Vergara with hypothyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce of certain crucial hormones.  She relies on daily medication, which delivers a synthetic form of these hormones.

“It’s having a relationship with your doctor,” Vergara said of dealing with hypothyroidism.  “Having a product like the one I take, Synthroid, I’ve never had a problem, never had symptoms.”

Now, Vergara is raising awareness about the disease that changed her life.  As part of her awareness campaign, Vergara shares her story on http://www.followthescriptcampaign.com/.  The site helps people learn more about thyroid disorders, connect to the hypothyroidism community and get more information about the best treatments.

“You can get on top of it really easily,” Vergara said.  “It is not something that is going to take your time to go and get tested, so I don’t there is a reason why anyone should be living with hypothyroidism.”