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On my soapbox about "the best cancer to have"

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I was on my soapbox this morning after reading yet another article about the dreaded subject of how thyroid cancer is "the best cancer to have." Think about that...the best cancer? Why would someone say that?

In an attempt to make you feel better about having thyroid cancer, some health care profesionals try to convince those of us who have or have had thyroid cancer that it is "the best cancer to have" because it has a high survival rate.

An aside here, that high survival rate applies to papillary carcinoma, one of the three types of thyroid cancer out there. Survival rates are lower for medullary carcinoma and anaplastic carcinoma, the other two types of thyroid cancer.

Back on topic...OK, so tell us that papillary carcinoma has a high survival rate. Truly, that is good news. But because of this "best cancer to have" statement, and the fact that I was told my thyroidectomy would most likely be just an easy, overnight stay for me, you can imagine my shock post-surgery when I felt like my head was going to fall off, I couldn't eat real food for 7-10 days, and two of the four lymph nodes the surgeon took out of my neck were the size of small plums leaving me with some amazing pain and an extra long scar on my neck (which I now love...see old posts).

Then trying to figure out thyroid medication that I will take the rest of my life that sometimes makes me so tired I want to sleep on the floor of my office (never done this BTW) and has assisted me in gaining 20 lbs post-cancer.

And then there is the ever popular recurrence that approximately 30% of us with thyroid cancer get to deal with, which I did in January 2009.

So PLEASE....tell us the survival rates for papillary carcinoma are good, but don't tell us that it is "the best cancer to have." One of my favorite Tweeters and fellow cancer survivor said to me today in response to my Twitter soapbox rant about this: "I always reply: "then you go on & get it. let me know how awesome it is."

Neither she or I wish cancer on anyone. That's not the point. We know you have good intentions. The line about "the best cancer to have" is just not helpful....that is all.

Another twitter friend said we should endeavor to educate others that this is not a helpful statement. I hope by sharing here folks will understand and choose to say something else. Personally, I would rather hear "Wow, that stinks! You know, you're tough and can do this" than "the best cancer" line.

What are some things you could say besides thyroid cancer is "the best cancer to have"? Please comment...let's talk about this!

Getting off my soapbox now...again. :)


  1. Hear, hear, Charlcie! Hear, hear!!!!

  2. I love your soapbox! I have the same one only mine is all about Wilms'.

  3. It's like being the tallest midget. Or when a company misses their projected quarterly earnings marks, but not by as much as projected.

    Or it's like the argument my friend and I had when we were 14. At the same time my dad was sick and dying of cancer (melanoma), her dad was abandoning her family and opting for another family who lived in the next town. I said my sitch was worse because I would never talk to my dad again. She countered that hers was worse because her dad deliberately chose not to be with them anymore and she felt he didn't love her enough to stay.

    All shades of "less bad." - Bad, but not AS BAD. But still - BAD!

    Hop right up on that soapbox whenever the urge strikes, girl!

  4. PS, I love the reference to a "soapbox." I don't think most of us even know what an actual soapbox is, or why we stand on it when we want to be heard. Remind me to Wikipedia that...

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  6. If you know some good thyroid medications please share this info. Thanks

  7. Great post!! I also have one of those "best cancers to have". Mine is Hodgkin's Lymphoma which has a high survival rate also. However, there is no such thing as an "easy" cancer or "best cancer to have". I am pretty sure that anybody that doesn't have any cancer would not trade positions with me. Although my survival chances are statistically good, the treatment just plain sucks!!! So for anyone who says that any cancer is the "best one to have", we will see what you have to say about it if, God forbid, you ever have one.

  8. Thank you! so well said. I totally agree with you. Thyroid cancer sucks.

  9. I was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I'm young (22) but it makes me positive that it is the "best Cancer to have" just my point of view!

  10. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 24, I fought cancer around five years, and I am cancer free four years now. It bothers me when people say that thyroid cancer is one of the "best cancers" to have. I would not trade my life, or what I have learned for anyone else's; however, it would be better for people to show us some sensitivity.


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