Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month & Julia Becker Collins
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month! As our Chief Operating Officer Julia Becker Collins is currently battling thyroid cancer, it’s her wish and ours to shed light on this lesser-known cancer and what you can do about it. While innovations in cancer research, public awareness, and self-exams mean most cancers are in decline, thyroid cancer is instead on the rise as better imaging techniques catch it earlier, though there are concerns about changes in diet and radiation exposure as well.
Julia Becker Collins’ Battle with Thyroid Cancer
Earlier this year in May, our COO Julia Becker Collins sat down virtually with our team and broke the bad news: she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer after a routine checkup detected warning signs. She explained what it was (none of us knew much if anything about this type of cancer), and we started planning for her medical leave, including bringing back CEO Laura DiBenedetto into the trenches to deal with day to day operations. All this, from pivoting the business to struggling through health care, made that much harder from COVID-19.
What You Should Know About Thyroid Cancer
As an under-known and diagnosed cancer, research and studies are still ongoing, but let’s start with the basics when it comes to who is most at risk and why:
- Thyroid Cancer Cases are Growing: The current trend of improved detection and rise in possible causes show thyroid cancer increasing roughly 4% each year in the US, with almost 55,000 people predicted to be diagnosed this year.
- It Affects Woman More Than Men: Women are three times as likely to develop thyroid cancer. Also, many cases occur in young women, being most common in ages 20 to 34.
- There are Three Primary Causes: Iodine has long been linked with the thyroid, with deficiencies causing goiters. Too much or too little may be linked to cancer as well, alongside radiation exposure and genetic markers.
Thyroid Cancer: Getting it Checked and Resources
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple. It produces hormones that do everything from regulating heart weight to your body’s temperature. You can check for thyroid cancer as well as make sure it’s included in your yearly physical as part of a “neck check.”
- AACE Neck Check Card: http://www.thyca.org/how-to-help/awareness/neck-check/
- Getting a Comprehensive Physical Exam: https://www.healthline.com/find-care/articles/primary-care-doctors/getting-physical-examination
While relatively unknown, there are many resources online that can help you understand thyroid cancer better as well as tools to spread awareness and information. Here are two places to start:
- ThyCa.org: The premier thyroid cancer awareness website and founder of the Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month program. Includes downloads in multiple languages.
- American Cancer Society: Includes comprehensive coverage on thyroid cancer laid out in simple to follow guides. Includes a guide for if you or someone you know has just been diagnosed.
We hope you’ll join us in spreading the awareness of this underdiagnosed cancer so more people can get checked and detected for the best prospects of recovery. We’ll be posting about it all month on social media, so make sure to follow and retweet us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us directly. We’ll also keep you updated on Julia as she continues her treatment.