'Baywatch' star Gena Lee Nolin making a career of saving lives

Actress and Valley resident Gena Lee Nolin rose to superstardom nearly 20 years ago - one of the voluptuous, bikini-clad lifeguards on the smash TV series "Baywatch." 

Now, Nolin is back in the public eye, championing the cause of women's health, in her brand new book, " Beautiful Inside and Out: Conquering Thyroid Disease with a Happy, "Thyroid Sexy" Life."

The book, released by Simon and Shuster just this week, chronicles Nolin's battle with an insidious ailment known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.

According to Nolin, many of those who are afflicted by the illness are unaware it's treatable with thyroid hormone therapy. She says victims often chalk-up the symptoms of weight gain, hair loss, lethargy and depression, as simply a by-product of growing old.     

"It is a lonely invisible, disease," Nolin said. "The weight gain, the anxiety- I wasn't myself."  

Nolin was desperate to put a name to what she was feeling. She also knew she wasn't suffering alone.

She said she was first diagnosed with postpartum depression, but as her condition worsened she started a simple Facebook page hoping to see if anyone else was feeling like she did.

The response was overwhelming.

"Almost 60 thousand joined the page, Nolin said. "Ninety percent are women, which to me with my career having to wear the red suit - and by the way, the sexy part was almost a rebellious punch. It was the most unsexy I had ever felt."

The Facebook page, and the conversations it has generated, blossomed into a labor of love for the "Baywatch" beauty. It led to the writing of her new book and an online forum which will be starting in November.

Nolin says the goal of the forum is to offer women access to information and physicians that might normally be out of reach.

The response thus far has Nolin smilingly brightly.  

"It gives me chills! It feels so good to be accepted by women for the right reason." 

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