Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference Draws Record Attendance From 28 States, DC, Canada

The 4th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference brought 320 thyroid cancer survivors, family members, friends, and speakers to Chevy Chase, Maryland, September 21-23, 2001. Participants came from 28 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 Canadian provinces.

This supportive and educational event was sponsored by ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. ThyCa is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that provides free support services to thyroid cancer survivors and families. The conference was the highlight of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Week, also sponsored by ThyCa.

Attendees included people with every type of thyroid cancer—papillary, follicular, medullary, anaplastic, the variants, and pediatric thyroid cancer. There were thyroid cancer survivors from age 15 to their mid-70’s. They ranged from those newly diagnosed to a survivor of 37 years. Many had never met another person with thyroid cancer before.

Megan Stendebach of San Antonio, Texas, ThyCa Volunteer and Conference Coordinator, opened the conference with a minute of silence in
memory of the victims of the tragic events of September 11. Participants next met in three roundtable sessions to share their experiences and their hopes for the conference.

The conference next offered choices of 50 sessions covering testing, treatment, and monitoring for each type of thyroid cancer; research advances; medication issues; self-care and coping; patient-physician communications; insurance and employment issues; and ways to meet caregivers’ needs.

Speakers included 23 physicians from major medical centers around the United States, including endocrinologists, pathologists, surgeons, and nuclear medicine physicians. Session leaders also included pharmacists, mental health professionals, hospitals’ patient representatives, attorneys specializing in insurance and employment issues, thyroid cancer survivors, and caregivers.

ThyCa received grant support for the conference from the American Cancer Society, Aetna Foundation, Abbott Laboratories, Genzyme Therapeutics, Kronus, Inc., and Monarch/Jones Pharmaceuticals. Contributions from businesses and individuals also helped fund the conference, which was organized and run entirely by volunteers. Thyroid cancer survivors, family members, and friends from 19 states, Canada, and the United Kingdom volunteered their time to plan and run the conference.

ThyCa Board Chair Gary Bloom announced that the Fifth International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference will take place in Los Angeles, California, in Fall 2002.

Throughout the year, ThyCa provides free local support groups, e-mail support groups, a person-to-person network, an award-winning educational web site, a toll-free survivors’ telephone number, a free low-iodine cookbook downloadable from the web site, and other publications for thyroid cancer survivors and families. ThyCa welcomes volunteers and members at any time.

More information is available on the web site of ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc., at, toll free at
1-877-588-7904, and by e-mail to