ThyCa NEWS NOTES – December 2008


ThyCa Plans To Award Two New Research Grants in 2009

In 2009, for the seventh year in a row, ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. will award new grants for thyroid cancer research, ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom has announced.

ThyCa will award two new grants in 2009. Each grant will be for 2 years. One grant will support research on follicular-cell-derived thyroid cancer, including papillary, follicular, anaplastic, and variants. The other grant will support research on medullary thyroid cancer.

The ThyCa Research grants are open to all researchers and institutions worldwide.

An independent expert panel of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) will select the grant recipients. ATA is the professional association of clinicians and researchers concerned with thyroid diseases.

Proposals are due by January 31, 2009. The Call for Proposals and eligibility requirements are available on the ATA web site.

The deadline for submission of a proposal summary to the ATA is January 31, 2009. The ATA Research Committee will rank proposals according to their scientific merit. ATA will notify the authors of selected proposals by early March and will invite them to submit complete grant applications.

“We are grateful all our generous donors and volunteers for making these grants possible,” said ThyCa Executive Director Gary Bloom. “More thyroid cancer research is urgently needed, to better understand thyroid cancer and find cures for all thyroid cancer. We greatly appreciate the ATA’s support in our research grant process.”

The ThyCa grants, begun in 2003, are the first-ever thyroid cancer research grants to be funded entirely by thyroid cancer patients, caregivers, and friends.

ThyCa has awarded its grants to researchers at the following institutions:

  • Cochin Institut, Paris, France
  • Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio and Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
  • Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • University Hospital Duesseldorf in Duesseldorf, Germany
  • University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)/Veterans Affairs West Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, California.
  • University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas

ThyCa has two Research Funds. One fund supports research of follicular-cell-derived thyroid cancer, including papillary, follicular, anaplastic, and variants. The other research fund supports research of medullary thyroid cancer.

To find out more about the ThyCa Research Funds and annual Rally for Research, visit our Reearch Fundspage.

ThyCa invites everyone to join us in our quest to find a cure for all thyroid cancer.

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Welcome to the Newest ThyCa Local Support Group

Welcome to our newest Support Group, ThyCa East Valley (Southern Phoenix), Arizona. The group’s first meeting will be on January 8, 2009. Joan Hedman and Monica Krist are the the volunteer Co-Facilitators.

Communities around the United States and in Costa Rica and Philippines have local thyroid cancer support groups.

You’re cordially invited to contact the group facilitator nearest you and attend meetings, or simply show up. Advance registration isn’t required. At local support group meetings, you have the opportunity to meet and talk with others in your community face to face. The participants share their experiences, strength, and hope. You learn more about your community’s health care resources. You experience camaraderie and connections with others who live near you and are also coping with thyroid cancer.

Family members and friends are welcome to attend. Each local support group is facilitated by one or more ThyCa volunteers.

You’ll find each group’s meeting schedule, location, facilitator contact information, and other details on the group’s web page. The Find Support section of our web site connects you with all the local support groups:

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Bally Total Fitness Reaches Out, Raises Awareness

This fall, Deborah Greger, Senior Group Exercise Director, and Yolanda Roberts of Bally Total Fitness in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania hosted a Pilates event at the club, and helped raise Thyroid Cancer Awareness in conjunction with this event.

Their display of ThyCa materials helped educate attendees about thyroid cancer. Attendees also received flyers, brochures, and our plastic wallet cards.

Yolanda wrote, “I am so grateful and excited to spread the word to all I can.”

Thank you so much, Deborah and Yolanda!

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Our Free Guestbook

To protect each person’s privacy, the mailing list is for the sole use of ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., and its affiliates. ThyCa does not ever sell or give away any contact information.

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My Story: Merry Christmas, You Have Cancerby Kimberly Koepel, Ohio

My senior year of college, very near Christmas, I found out I had thyroid cancer. One call during my Christmas break changed my life. From taking classes autumn quarter at Ohio State, to a winter filled with doctor’s visits in Wisconsin, cancer didn’t just change my schedule, it changed everything.

Before I got the cancer call, I knew something was wrong. …. I would get frequent headaches…. I also lost my voice frequently, for days at a time.

I live in Ohio. During Christmas break I received all my check-ups at the a clinic in Wisconsin, because I was still under my parents’ HMO insurance and they live in Wisconsin. I decided to make an appointment at the clinic with an ear, nose, and throat specialist, since I was losing my voice so often. Happily, to my surprise, the appointment was made with the same surgeon who removed my tonsils when I was seven.

During my appointment the doctor felt a couple of lumps in my thyroid and scheduled an ultrasound for the same day and made an appointment for me to be seen by an Endocrinologist. This was actually the first time I had seen an Endocrinologist. I strongly suggest that if anyone is experiencing symptoms such as mine, they go to an Endocrinologist, because endocrinologists understand thyroid levels and function. Looking back, I believe I would have saved time and headaches (no pun intended) if I would have been seen by an Endocrinologist from the onset of my symptoms.

…While still in his office, he received the results from my ultrasound, explained to me what he saw, and showed me the nodules on my thyroid and surrounding areas. He explained that nodules could be malignant and a fine needle aspiration would verify if they were. One was scheduled. I was nervous and simultaneously terrified and in denial of the potential results. All of my appointments were in the same day, which happened to be December 22, right before Christmas, and I would not receive the results until after the holiday.

I visited my family in Upper Michigan for Christmas and the trip further delayed the news. My cell phone reception there was so bad that the doctor did not get a hold of me when he first called. I did finally get the call, and inevitability it made me quake and wail, falling into my Grandmother’s arms. During this call I found out my cancer was a mix of Papillary and Follicular and it was decided that my whole thyroid would be removed.

I called friends and family members to tell them the news and found their reactions were mixed. Some were horrified and cried, maybe even screamed a little; some gasped in disbelief; one did not want me to interrupt her dinner. My best friends were there, like they always had been, like I knew they would be.

The next battle was with the insurance company. My diagnosis was made during a break from school, which created a loophole for the insurance company, enabling them to say I was only covered to the end of the holiday break. I wouldn’t be covered unless I returned to classes on January 4th. My surgery was scheduled for January 4th so this was not possible! They also tried to argue that I wouldn’t be a student taking the quarter off to receive treatment in Wisconsin. Eventually they paid for surgery and treatment, perhaps due to their inability to argue with my parents and doctors any longer.

I had my surgery, awoke from the anesthesia cancer free, and stayed in Wisconsin for a month to recover and wait for lab results, doctor’s visits and radioactive iodine treatment. My wait was only two weeks after surgery to receive the RAI because I had been under-medicated in the past and it didn’t take long for me to become completely hypothyroid.

My month in Wisconsin was lonely, I felt sick and tired every day, I sat in the house in the middle of a Wisconsin winter, unable to do anything but count the hours until someone would come home.

A month had passed and it I went back to Ohio. I settled back in to my apartment and still felt lonely. No one could really understand what I had been through and they didn’t even ask what the last month had been like. I had a small number of friends who were actually willing to admit that I had cancer and more who wanted to pretend it never happened. I’m not sure if the ones who tried to pretend were sad, or merely inconvenienced by my inability to party with them. Nevertheless, it hurt.

I hated sitting at home every day. I had ideas of volunteering or painting but I was still really tired. I had insomnia from the changing thyroid levels, so I slept until two or three in the afternoon and then would go to bed at four or five in the morning.

I refused to join a support group or organization, and was still too tired to keep up with my friends which resulted in a lot of nights home alone. I soon became more and more depressed. My doctor even suggested I join ThyCa, and I dismissed him immediately. “I’ve never been a joiner,” I thought to myself. “I can do this on my own, this is just a rough patch.” I should have realized he had seen something that I didn’t, he barely knew me, but I’m pretty sure he saw how lost I was. Cancer is scary and unless all your friends have it too, it’s lonely. Whenever I think about how sad and lonely I was, I wish I had asked for help.

Support groups and organizations are around for a reason. Organizations such as ThyCa help individuals share their experiences that are unique to a thyroid cancer survivor. I wish I would have joined a support group, so I would have had others to share stories or similar experiences. A support group allows people to inspire each other, understand the same sorrow and triumph, cry and conquer together. If there is a wrong way to handle a cancer diagnoses, it is by pretending nothing is wrong.

I am now a proud ThyCa member, and look forward to helping others who are newly diagnosed.

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Low-Iodine Recipe of the MonthContributed by Suzanne Kallick Gilliam

Frozen Banana “Ice Cream”

Peel bananas and cut into one-inch pieces.
Freeze, and then process in a blender or food processor until creamy smooth.

Suzanne writes, “My absolute favorite treat is frozen banana “ice cream.” The consistency is just like an ice cream product. I miss dairy and creamy things the most so for me it’s the best. I sprinkle it with granola or fresh berries.

“I try to have fun with the diet versus treating it as a chore or punishment and try things I might not otherwise — and for me one of the best parts is telling myself that I don’t have to worry about carbs or calories or sugar for these 2 weeks so it’s nice to have a break from that. Thanks for all you do….”

Thank you, Suzanne! Your recipe will be added to the next edition of the FREE Downloadable Low-Iodine Cookbook.

Download the cookbook, with more than 250 favorite recipes from more than 100 generous volunteers.

If you’d like to contribute your favorite recipe or tip to the cookbook’s next edition, send it to

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Variations on November’s Low Iodine Recipe of the MonthWith thanks again to Liz S., Lafayette, California, for contributing this recipe.

No Bake Easy Holiday Rum Balls
Makes 24-30 rum balls

1 Cup almond meal (available at health food stores)
1/3 Cup powdered sugar (can use 1/4 Cup powdered sugar and 1/8 Cup Splenda if you wish to reduce the calories
1/4 Cup dark rum
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. Roll in the palm of your hands into ¾ inch to1inch balls. [If the consistency of the dough feels too sticky, you can add a little more almond meal to the dough: If it feels too stiff, you can add a little vegetable oil (1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon) or pasteurized egg whites to moisten.]

Optional: The rum balls can be rolled in powdered sugar, cocoa powder, or almond meal for a different look and taste.

Put balls into a covered container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

A ThyCa volunteer writes: “The Rum Balls I made, from the last newsletter, were eagerly and speedily consumed at the gathering this past weekend. I used imitation rum flavoring at the request of one of the co-hosts, as her kids were coming. Added a bit of water, plus the suggested oil. I ground up almond slivers from the regular grocery. Also rolled the balls in the almond meal. Yum!”

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ThyCa Is In the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)

ThyCa’s CFC # is 11675

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association is in the world’s largest workplace giving campaign – the Combined Federal Campaign.

Federal civilian, postal, and military employees are now able to choose ThyCa as a recipient of their workplace donations through the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). This federal employees’ charitable giving campaign raises millions of dollars each year for thousands of nonprofits providing health and human services throughout the world. Our thanks to everyone who has donated to ThyCa through the Combined Federal Campaign.

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Have You Visited the Web Site Lately?

Our web site has more than 650 pages. More than 50 distinguished physicians plus numerous other specialists give ongoing input and review. We greatly appreciate the wonderful support of these medical specialists.

The web site expands nearly every week. Visit often for the latest information updates, the schedules of local support group meetings, and news about special events.

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Become a ThyCa Member!

We invite you to join ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., to help us sustain, strengthen, and extend our services.

Your membership dues will support ThyCa’s efforts to reach and serve other survivors and their families around the world.

You may join as a one-year member, two-year member, or lifetime member.

For our online and mailed membership forms, go to our Membership page.

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Want To Volunteer?

We welcome new volunteers at any time. To learn about volunteer opportunities, visit our Volunteer page:

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Thank You From ThyCa!

We believe that no one should have to be alone when facing thyroid cancer.

Our free support services are offered with this as our main goal.

We thank everyone for giving your time and talents to making possible our free services, publications, and events.

We’re grateful to you for reaching out to others worldwide, to help connect them with ThyCa’s many free support services and educational resources.

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Every Day…

Every day, thousands of people with thyroid cancer, and their families, receive support, education, and hope from ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association.

Your generous support is what makes it possible to sustain, strengthen, and expand our services and outreach.

It only takes a minute to make a secure donation online in support of ThyCa’s work (or you are welcome to donate by mail), so click here to give.

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You’re Invited To These Thyroid Cancer Events!

  • Thyroid Cancer Support Group Meetings in Your Community
  • Free One-Day Regional Workshops. Watch the web site for details. Workshop planning has already begun for Spring 2009 for Texas/Southwest in Dallas, Texas, and the Mid-Atlantic (near Washington, DC).
  • The 12th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference
    October 16-18, 2009
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Sheraton Ferncroft Hotel in Danvers
    Sponsored by ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.

Visit our web site for details. Download the flyer and help spread the word.

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Ask ThyCa

If you have questions about thyroid cancer, please send them to and we’ll answer your question in an upcoming newsletter as well as adding to our web site content.

Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support. On behalf of everyone in ThyCa, we wish you all the best for the holiday season and New Year.

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Copyright (c) 2008 ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.

Thank you to our writing, editing, and proofreading team for this issue of the newsletter: Pat Paillard, Gary Bloom, Suzanne Kallick Gilliam, Kimberly Koepel, Liz S., and Cherry Wunderlich.

Your suggestions for articles are welcome. The deadline for articles and news items is the first day of each month.

Please share News Notes with your family and friends. For permission to reprint in another electronic or print publication, please contact us at

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (tax ID #52-2169434) of thyroid cancer survivors, family members, and health care professionals. We are dedicated to support, education, and communication for thyroid cancer survivors, their families and friends, as well as to public awareness for early detection, treatment, and lifetime health monitoring, and to thyroid cancer research fundraising and research grants.

Contact us for free awareness materials and information about our free services and special events. E-mail, call 1-877-588-7904, fax 1-630-604-6078, write PO Box 1102, Olney, MD 20830-1102, or visit our web site..