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Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

I am a thyroid cancer survivor.

I thyroid and a few other cancers get called by doctors

"The good cancer"
"If I had to have a cancer i would pick that one"
"You won the Cancer Lottery"
"its cancer but you’re lucky"

the reason doctors say this is because
1) most of us don’t have to do chemo (its normally caught early cause what it does to the body)
2) has a 97% 5 year survival rate
3) they think they are being comforting

I find a lot of people who have thyroid cancer get re-occurrences and we have to take replacements every day for the rest of our lives to attempt to get back to normal. and we have to go off of this and go through periods of major hypothyroidism just so they can check if it has come back.

I am not trying to minimize ANY type of cancer they are all bad.

I just need to find some way to explain to the doctors and such that those saying are not comforting.

every now and then I have snapped and rudely mentioned "I know where they have my frozen sample stored if its such a good cancer I can transplant it to you." I know no tact what so ever...

just curious what other cancers get the "GOOD CANCER" label and maybe get myself a somewhat more polite response to those comments that want me to commit homicide.

bluerose's picture
Posts: 1102
Joined: Jul 2009

I can see where you are coming from on this 'good cancer' response from doctors and others. Yup, I do think they are just trying to be supportive and help with the stress of it all but of course no cancer is a good cancer, that is plain.

I had non hodgkins lymphoma and I dealt with 'that's the BAD lymphoma' so I was kind of on the other end of things. The GOOD lymphoma was just the plain old hodgkins type - easier to cure than the non hodgkins brand. However when I was cured of the non hodgkins lymphoma then a bigger deal was made of the Bad Lymphoma I had survived in a more positive sense but still HELLO, CANCER IS ALWAYS BAD, the word 'good' has no place anywhere near the word cancer, in my opinion. So I know how you feel.

We have talked alot on these boards about how people can say the wrong things to us at the wrong time but truly I don't think they mean any harm and I'm not sure what I can offer as an answer to you as to what to say when they say these kinds of things to you. Maybe you should just say 'well, I don't believe that ANY cancer is a good cancer but I appreciate you trying to help by trying to suggest a more positive angle to my situation'. I know that is wordy but you can shorten it to more of a style you are comfortable with, in your own words but that might be a good capsule of how you feel about that expression. By saying something like what I offered there you are remaining positive, saying that you appreciate them trying to help and insinuating that they have, in some small way helped to make you feel better about your situation. Well, kinda better. lol.

All the best.


Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

Yes unfortunatly thats what i am feeling like...

I know the doc wants to be comforting but when the docs say things like "good cancer" some faimly and friends think oh its not bad its a good one...

to me it almost feels like the doc saying "we had to amputate your right hand but its all good cause your left handed."

"Maybe you should just say 'well, I don't believe that ANY cancer is a good cancer but I appreciate you trying to help by trying to suggest a more positive angle to my situation'."

Yes that comment might help and is definatly more positive.

lovingwifedeb's picture
Posts: 184
Joined: Aug 2010

To compare... A "bad cancer" would be Melanoma, stage 4...with Metastatic brain tumors. My husband was diagnosed at stage 3 and died just under one year later, May 27th, 2011. Melanoma has no cure when not caught early. So if you had to have a "bad cancer" Melanoma would not be a cancer to have.

But I have to agree... The medical profession could learn some tact.

I hope you are living each day fully with love in your heart, with no regrets and never stay angry with your companion. Time stands still for no one.

Peace to you.


Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

I understand the doctors are trying to be helpful

They are trying to be understanding

one of the issues not having a thyroid is it causes depression...

so most of us have some depression issues and then of corse the ones related to cancer itself.

Other minor issues include the fact that most of the doctors say there is very little reoccurrence and no one dies from thyroid cancer..

in actuality there is over a 30% chance for reoccurrence and 3% of the people diagnosed with thyroid cancer don’t last 5 years.

yes those are wonderful numbers compared to other cancers.

They don't consider most of us being in a permeate brain fog and having to use yellow stickies and notes to ourselves for the rest of our "normal" life.

Another issue a lot of us try to grasp is they take our thyroid and then give us 1 of the thyroid hormones only T4... now T4 dose convert to T3 in the body BUT...

There are other thyroid hormones that they do not replace because they say we don’t need them.

I know I was going somewhere with this rant but I honestly forgot… darn brain fog.

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Well if some Cancers are Good then I am sure some are Bad I just wonder if any are described as ugly.

My cousin had Thyroid cancer and he is doing very well did not have any type of treatment. I had NPC so that is the not the so good one I call it Bad, can back three times for a rematch. So then the ugly cancer is the one that leaves its victim disfigured, unable to work or make a living for themselves. Sometimes life is just not fair in what it deals out to each of us, but then who said fair was any part of life. Just glad I have my faith to lean upon in my times of need


palmyrafan's picture
Posts: 397
Joined: Mar 2011

Boy have you hit a nerve with me. There is nothing a nurse, technician, doctor, intern, resident, etc. could ever say (and many have) than to say that to me.

I have multiple meningiomas. These are considered the "best" brain tumors to have because they "typically" are found on the meninges (lining) of the brain. But a funny, or not so funny, thing happened on the way to wellness. Almost no meningiomas are found JUST on the lining of the brain. Almost everyone I have talked to (am on various meningioma support group forums) has these tumors/cancer every place else. The sinuses, skull base, carotid artery, optic nerve, etc. And there is nothing "routine" about these. Many of our tumors have been upgraded to brain cancer due to the locations of the tumors and the inoperability of them.

The quickest way to get an earful from me and to get on my bad side is to say "well at least it's not that bad" or "at least you have the best one to get". Yeah right.....tell that to my husband of 17 years who has very patiently and lovingly gone through all of this with me.

Grrrr, snarl, hiss.


Cindy Bear
Posts: 570
Joined: Jul 2009

That is irritating.... something similar happened to us.. when my mother first went to the gyn. for tests (Biopsy, ultrasound) for uterine cancer. He said, "Oh if you're going to get cancer this is the cancer to get" We'll never know why he said that. A month later, she was officially diag. after cat and then pet scan.... stage IV . She passed away four mos. after that.. there is no such thing as "Good cancer' You'd think drs. would know this..I kinda like your witty retort about the frozen sample being transplanted...

Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

Glad you like the comment about frozen sample... that normaly makes doctors backpeddle a bit...

I honestly dont like useing something that sarcastic though i prefer to be polite to the doctors they tend to listen more to your issues

but at least weekly on one of the thyroid cancer bords or another i see someone new coming up with but the doctors said it was GOOD cancer...

It causes people to not realize that
1) there are deaths
2) it is one of the few cancers that cancer rates are riseing on
3) the tests they do where they take you off your thyroid replacement for 2-5 weeks (right after you heal up, 1 year following and then every few years)
4) it takes months if not years to get your replacement hormones anywere close to being correct.
5) about 20% do actualy have to go full boat and do chemo about 60% get radiation and some get told they dont need radiation. I got radiation and it messed up my salavary glands and gave me a perminate metalic salt like taste in my mouth.

no cancer is good.

laynie11's picture
Posts: 36
Joined: Sep 2011

Interesting to hear your view. I worked in a private lab for a pathologist for 10 years.....I've heard this a lot..... the "good cancer". I do, however, think pathologists that diagnose things like thyroid cancer relate to your physician (who ultimately informs you of your condition).... "This is the good cancer to have, if you have it", but when you are on the receiving end, not so much. I like to believe that most doctors are compassionate and really do care and try to offer encouraging words.

God bless you and my prayers are with you - Gretchen

LeeandShirley's picture
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

Suffering is suffering. No one can tell you the extent with which you are suffering ANY particular ailment.
I once had an ingrown toenail that was so bad and painful, that I had to go to the doctor and endure worse pain to get it from turning into my toe. OUCH!Now, this is certainly not life threatening like cancer, but I am trying to make the point, that each individual person "feels" differently.
And for a doctor to say "at least this is a good cancer", (especially if that doctor specializes in cancer), is extremely insensitive and unprofessional.
Just the word CANCER, has had a stigma attached with it for so long, that, when told "You have cancer", it doesn't matter how virulent it is, IT'S CANCER and that should be enough for any medical personnel to show more respect for a patients feelings.
I too may have been guilty of such trite remarks, in an effort to downplay a persons need to fear cancer. But, this is exactly why we have these discussion boards. To educate the rest of us. Thank you for being brave and letting us all know, that your cancer is not a "good" one. It's cancer. Period!

forme's picture
Posts: 1162
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi Nasher

I have heard that comment so many times. There is no good cancer. Cancer is Cancer, period!

I have thyroid ca with mets and lymphoma. I have had multiple surgeries, Two types of rads and even tried a new type of chemo. I have had every side effect that you can imagine. I take a very high dose of synthroid, 450mcg it was 600 but has been lowered last year due to the lymphoma. Have osteoporosis as a result of the high dose. I am no longer able to have rai and have very few options available to me.

I have been told that this is a good cancer to have, yet I have also been told that there is nothing that can be done to help me. That does not sound like "good cancer" to me.

Do most people with thy ca have a positive outcome, Yes. But to blindly tell everyone that this is a good cancer is just wrong. Cancer is scary and can be difficult with many challenges and life long effects.

I traveled half way across the country to find better doctors, I did get more opinions and a few options at MD Anderson . They are the only Docs who did not say this is a good cancer to have. There is hope that other docs will learn from these few.

Still fighting and still hearing those words, Good Cancer.... just not as much

Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

ok I am curious since your on a high level of synthroid have they considered a cytomel/synthroid combo...

i am on 200mcg synthroid and 25mcg cytomel and it seems to help a lot more than just synthroid... also Armour desiccated animal thyroid tissue might be a way to try as well.

since you have osteoporosis have they put you on a calcium/vitamin D regiment?

yes it is hard to get the doctors to stop saying its a good cancer... and I have heard other cancers also being listed as good cancers.

in fact there is only 1 group of people I would be happy if they said it was the good cancer... and that's the people who give you insurance... besides that its cancer.

the 30% chance of reocourance and the 3% chance of death in 5 years is low compared to a lot of other cancers.

now that I am 1 year out from thyroid cancer I am hearing good cancer less because they know i know how it is and don't need that "compassionate care" of hearing good cancer.

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