ThyCa News

In Memory and Honor of Ric Blake


February 12, 1945 - August 15, 2011

ThyCa Co-Founder, Volunteer for Over 15 Years, Board Member Emeritus,
Founder and Co-Facilitator of ThyCa Boston, Massachusetts, Support Group

ThyCa Announces Yearly Research Grant To Be Named
The Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant

It is with heavy hearts that we share the sad news that our friend Ric Blake of Londonderry, New Hampshire,

Ric & Diane Blake
Ric and Diane Blake

has passed away after a 16-year battle with follicular thyroid cancer. Ric was diagnosed with poorly differentiated follicular carcinoma (Hurthle cell) in October 1995.

Ric was a good, caring, kind, and wise man. Soon after being diagnosed, he began helping others who were coping with thyroid cancer. He became an active participant in the online thyroid cancer mutual support group started by Karen Ferguson, and became good friends with other thyroid cancer survivors near and far.

Ric was instrumental in the team of volunteers who created ThyCa, and in strengthening and extending its services. He inspired numerous people to volunteer for ThyCa. He encouraged and supported many new volunteers.

Among Ric’s many accomplishments:

  • He started the world’s first face-to-face thyroid cancer support group, in Massachusetts in 1996, and served as ThyCa’s first Local Support Groups Coordinator.
  • In 1997, he worked with Arturo Rolla, M.D., ThyCa Medical Advisor, and Karen Ferguson, ThyCa Volunteer, to develop the world’s first e-mail listserv support group dedicated to thyroid cancer survivors.
  • He initiated and coordinated the world’s first and second Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conferences, in 1998 and 1999, in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • He served as Secretary of the Steering Committee that founded the nonprofit ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., and became one of ThyCa's 17 Co-Founders.
  • He served on ThyCa's Founding Board as its Corresponding Secretary and Director of Outreach
  • He served on the ThyCa Board when it established Thyroid Cancer Awareness Week in 2000 with its first observance 2001, and supported the expansion of this worldwide observance to Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September 2004.
  • He initiated and coordinated the first thyroid cancer survivors’ regional workshop in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2001.
  • He and his wife Diane devoted many years as advocates for improved palliative care, and in 2002 they were recognized for outstanding leadership and service by the New Hampshire Partnership for End of Life Care.
  • Ric was honored by being named ThyCa Board Member Emeritus in recognition of his tremendous commitment and service.
  • His years living with thyroid cancer were featured in a series of articles in the Eagle-Tribune, titled “Living Well Until the End.” The newspaper published an obituary on August 16, 2011.

Ric graciously acknowledged the efforts of everyone on the teams in which he was involved. In his opening remarks at the first ThyCa conference, he said, “On behalf of all of us here and of those who are here in spirit, I offer my sincere thanks to those volunteers who have worked for 18 months to create ThyCa `98. We would not be here today without your gifts of time, talent and financial assistance. And most importantly, your warm and caring hearts.”

At that same conference, he also said, “Before anything else, let's keep in mind that our goal is to enjoy ourselves, share our experiences, support each other and celebrate our lives.”

People around the world will continue to benefit from Ric’s efforts and vision. Our lives have been enriched by his contributions.

Ric Blake made a difference to countless people with thyroid cancer, and their families. He will be remembered and greatly missed.