ThyCa News

Why You Should Stop Calling Thyroid Cancer "Good Cancer"


This is the title of an article by Anna Almendala, Huffington Post Healthy Living Editor, published on February 6, 2015, in the Huffington Post and already shared, by February 14, by more than 2,450 people through Facebook and Twitter. 

She interviewed Gary Bloom, thyroid cancer survivor, ThyCa Co-Founder, and Executive Director, and Alan Ho, M.D., Ph.D., medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Earlier, hundreds of thyroid cancer survivors had challenged a cancer survivor’s column in the Huffington Post expressing the opinion that thyroid cancer is an easy cancer to have. They made clear how difficult a thyroid cancer journey can be, and fatal for some. 

"Especially for this disease, the survival numbers don't really tell the entire story about what patients have to go through," said Dr. Ho. He explained some of the “true hardships and costs” that patients experience. 

"We don't see cancer as a competition from disease to disease," said Gary Bloom. "The only competition we would see is against the disease -- all of us as survivors are trying to live." 

Read the complete article here

Video: Living With Thyroid Cancer: There Is No Such Thing as a Good Cancer 

Thyroid cancer patients in ThyCa’s support communities speak out in this new video from Vital Options. 

Watch and listen here.

Patients Write… 

Here are a few of the comments by patients in ThyCa’s Facebook and Inspire communities, and through an article shared with ThyCa, in response to the Huffington Post article suggesting that thyroid cancer is easy to have. 

  • I had many people tell me it was "the good cancer," while others basically dismissed it as not even being a cancer. But for me and my family, the illness was both significant and real. The surgery, treatment and follow-up affected all of us. – Melissa G. S. 
  • I often avoid talking about it because I feel like people think I'm playing up the effects it had (and still has) in me because it's the "good" one. – Beth D. H.
  • …this is not only something we live with forever but it affects us daily. 11 years later, and yes, I too still get anxious every time I see my doc! – Vanessa G. 
  • Every single day is a struggle. – Jill G. 
  • Yes cancer in any form is not good but I think the doctors are just trying to allay any fears. I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer last year and had my thyroid removed. So far everything is good. – Jerry P. 
  • Rare forms of thyroid cancer can actually be among the most deadly of all cancers. We totally underestimated thyroid cancer until my dad died from anaplastic thyroid cancer, which is almost always fatal. – Ashley F. 
  • I was diagnosed in late November. Had a TT in early January. I’m now awaiting RAI. I had a lot of support here early on with a post I wrote about lack of support at home. This site [ThyCa Inspire Online Support Community] has made this experience a whole lot easier. – G.  
  • I'm one of the lucky ones who has had a relatively easy time of it. – A.K. 
  • I appear to be a normal, healthy woman but it's always on my mind. I was diagnosed 4 1/2 years ago and just had a recurrence in the fall. I have side effects to the meds too as mentioned in the article. People do forget we are dealing with cancer. – Kathleen O. R.  

A Physician Comments… 

by Ernest L. Mazzaferri, M.D. 

Ernest L. Mazzaferri, M.D.(Editor’s Note: Dr. Mazzaferri was a thyroid cancer specialist, past president of the American Thyroid Association, and longtime ThyCa medical advisor. He spoke at many ThyCa conferences. We’re saddened to say that Dr. Mazzaferri passed away in 2013. His comments below are excerpted from the Foreword to the reference book Thyroid Cancer: A Guide for Patients. It is reprinted with permission from the publisher.) 

When you hear that you have cancer, your world starts spinning, not for a moment or two, but for what feels like an eternity. 

Then in a short time, it often comes crashing down around you, as well as upon those who love you and care for you, leaving you depressed, frightened, and in deep anguish… 

After you think about this for more than a heart beat the question is always, "How do I deal with this bad news right now?" The answer is astonishingly simple for most people. You need reliable information about your problem. 

This is not to mean a pat on the head and the trite words, "Don't worry, this is a good cancer."  

It always breaks my heart to hear this. There is no good cancer – at least not according to any patient or family that I ever met. If it's your cancer, how on earth can it be "good"? 

(Read the complete foreword, plus more excerpts from the book, here. …)