Cancer, the sequel

I’m either a two-time loser or a two-time winner, depending on how I fill my glass.

I have cancer again, this time in the thyroid (last time in the prostate). I had half of my thyroid taken out in 2002; it had no cancer. The second half was just excised (I’m running out of spare body parts). Just got the pathology report. Unfortunately, it did not include the most beautiful word in the English language: “benign.”

But it did include what may be the second-most comforting word: “contained.” My Sloan-Kettering surgeon said that because the tumor was small and contained, he’s not going to move to the next common step in treatment: radioactive iodine. He’ll watch it with sonograms and if something does grow back, I’ll be glowing in the dark. So now, every six months, we’ll track my two cancers, hoping for no reruns.

I debated whether to blog about this, just because at some point, you needn’t care about my ailments and I am wary of sounding like I live in the old folks’ home (you know the joke all your grandparents have told: time for the organ recital). I’m also quite aware — especially after seeing my fellow patients in the hospital — that I have cancer lite; beside my roommate, who had Steve Jobs’ reported first operation, the ominous Whipple procedure, I have a paper cut.

I believe in sharing if there’s something to be accomplished with it. So I come back to that word: “contained.” In both these cases, my cancer was contained because, thank goodness and modern medicine, it was caught early.

So that’s the moral to this story: Go see your damned doctor if you haven’t recently. My thyroid got swollen the first time around and that’s what led to surgery and then monitoring. My doctor testing my PSA caught my prostate cancer. I’m overdue with a colonoscopy — and sure as hell do not want a hat trick. But I will go as soon as I can. You should, too.

Before my thyroid surgery, I told you that there was a risk of damage to my voice. My foes will be sorry to know that I am still in full voice (and temper). The last time I had the operation — it’s rare that one can perform consumer comparisons — my throat hurt like hell for more than a week but this time not. There are two more splashes in the glass, over the half mark.

I’m blessed that the cancers were caught and contained. It’s creepy knowing that some leftover rogue cells could come back and wondering whether other brands of the disease are building elsewhere. Yesterday at a conference on privacy, someone used that word to describe online tracking and sharing: “creepy.” Ad targeting is not creepy. Cancer is. But I keep reminding myself where my glass is.

I’ll give you an update about my prostate another day.

I appreciate every time you, my friends, wish me well. But I’m not fishing for that so you needn’t. Instead, please go see your doc. It’s check-up time.

  • Jeff,

    I haven’t met you in person but as a tech writer and someone who watches This Week in Google religiously, I’m pulling for you. Best of luck and keep fighting the good fight.

    Doug Aamoth

  • Mike jakel

    Sorry to hear about this my thoughts and prayers are with you, I think it was the right thing to share others reading may have something similar and optimism is the key

  • Sandeep


    You’re going to pull through this! My best wishes to you.


  • Rob K

    Jeff- I am very sorry to hear it. But there are 2 time winners, long term. I have a colleague and friend, Jothy Rosenberg who is a double survivor. He recently wrote a book about it called “Who Says I Can’t?”

  • Elizabeth

    Get well soon, Jeff. And you inspired me to get scheduled for my colonoscopy, thank you.


  • It’s evident that Life has too much work for you to accomplish to allow the c-word to get in the way. God bless you, Jeff. You are loved by many.

  • Mr. Jarvis, you’re more of an inspiration than you know. You have my constant prayers.

  • Steve M

    I congratulate you on your openness and positive attitude. You are right, finding this stuff early is key. Too many of us put off the exams that could potentially save our lives.

    Best wishes… see you on the next TWiG!

  • John Baxter

    I’m happy for your mostly good news (agreed–benign would have been better). I was pleased to hear a normal Jeff on TWiG.

    I had my first colonoscopy almost too late–I’m without ascending colon, appendix, etc as a result. (I became anemic, finally passing out waiting for lunch in a restaurant.)

    Do have colonoscopies done. And do keep sharing.

  • @jeffjarvis Thanks for sharing Jeff your attitude, courage, humor are always an inspiration to me. Im glad it was contained & I wish you the best sir. Also, thanks for encouraging people to take care of themselves and get checked out.

    Take care

  • Lisa Duggan

    There is great value in your sharing-lessening the fear for other men to speak publicly about illness, and to see their doctors. I also dream of a world-wide database of medical profiles of the various cancers, that can only assist doctors & researchers in prevention, diagnosis & treatment. know you’ll recover quickly. Look forward to enjoying your ‘voice’ for many years to come.

  • Bruce White

    Stay strong Jeff.

  • boris_tweets

    Dear Jeff,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. You will beat cancer once again!

  • “The lucky stagger
    back into their lives ?
    gasping, new-born.
    With fresh holes that
    let in light and the wind?
    at new angles.”

    Good luck Jeff and Keep sharing.

  • Ray Glassmeyer

    I am sorry to hear you have cancer again. My family is going through our own cancer experience. One of the treatment options I have found is called Proton therapy. Proton therapy is smiler to radiation therapy but its advantage is the ability to more precisely localize the radiation dosage and minimize the damage to surrounding tissue.

    I wish you the best in fighting this disease.


  • Bridget williams

    Jeff! I think many of us appreciate your sharing, your lack of bullshit, and your outlook. Very sorry for the setback. I agree with the previous poster; life has too much that you must accomplish so keep at it and we’ll keep praying or meditating or sending good vibes your way.

  • Steve Rubel

    Jeff, glad to hear it is contained. Be well. – steve and your friends at Edelman

  • I’m sorry to hear that and hope you’ll get well soon! Since I believe you are a fighter I’m optimistic you’ll manage to keep that thing where it is: contained. All the best!


  • WC


    I’ll second your recommendation to “Go see your damned doctor”. I was lucky to get an early diagnosis when my PSA was still “normal”.

    My prayers are with you.

  • Rob

    Mr Jarvis,

    You really don’t have the best of luck, do you? Hope you pull through this as quickly and painlessly as possible, Contained is always good.


  • Jeff, thank you for your being an example of transparency, openess, and hope! Think of this as a second, second chance. Keep doing what you are doing, live hard, live open, and keep sharing!

    God, I pray that you heal Jeff – once and for all – and that his cure be an a shining example of your power.

    Bless you Jeff!


  • Dave Winer

    Hey thanks for stickin around for a while jeff. One day at a time.

    And when you think of the cancer think of what this mailbox says…


  • Jeff: Wishing you the best as you battle this.

  • Alec

    Sending positive thoughts your way!

  • Richelle

    Thanks for sharing with us. I admire your positive outlook, and am taking seriously your recommendation on the doctor. I’m due for my yearly check-up in March, but instead of waiting for a (often ignored) reminder to pop up on my calendar, I’m booking now!

  • Priscilla

    Thanks for letting your fans know. I am sorry for your latest challenge but I am hopeful that you will come out of this just fine.
    There are many others who do not which is why Washington became only the second state in the nation to adopt the Death with Dignity Law. I do hospice care and hope that everyone who contemplates the good and the bad of cancer will think of those who suffer most and in 48 states must have lonely violent or suffering ends without this option.
    Keep on keeping on Jeff, you are so brave to speak openly about this, ignore the web-haters. You rock and you have a thousand prayers being said for you and for your family. Be well.

  • Daniel

    Thank you for sharing as it motivates me to schedule a check up. Stay strong, you are appreciated.

  • Nic Fulton

    Jeff – good luck with the fight. Be well and think positive. Cheers, Nic.

  • Crotchety or not, the web wouldn’t be the same without you.

    You’re too strong to give in to a few rogue cells. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Cancer, the sequel « BuzzMachine --

  • Marian

    Keep on following up – early detection vital my sons a survivor n has checks every 3 months – thyroid mess r great so no real loss with that body part – good luck

  • Lorea

    Jeff, all the best, and thanks for sharing. I admire you much. Lorea.

  • Phil Heron

    You’ve had more than your share of health issues. All the best. Appreciate the way you go public and share.

    A good path for all of us to follow.

    Phil Heron,
    Delco Daily Times

  • Eric

    kick some ass, jeff.

  • Christine Heinsohn

    Jeff, will be thinking about you.

  • C.J

    God, where do you start! My ex partner and best friend is going through similar Jeff. Prayers and thoughts are with you. C.J

  • Crap, Jeff. Praying that you kick this cancer, too.

  • RWS

    I just booked my annual exam. Thank you for sharing and the reminder to take care of one’s self…

  • Wimberly

    I wish you all the best. My family has been struggling with cancer for 4 months. My 32 yr old brother was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Worst thing ever. Good luck to you!

    • Wimberly
      I am incredibly lucky to have what I have. My best to you, your brother, and your family. Godspeed!

  • IchiroA

    Thanks for your openness.
    Posts like yours will help others pay attention to their health.
    Good luck, thanks AND Bababooey!! :)


  • Jeff, my thoughts are with you sir. I will take your advice and have a physical done really soon. Here’s to getting back to 100% soon!

  • Ras

    Jeff, you are one of these salty, old sea captain types that can walk and live through anything life throws at you. I know you will be fine and live to an old ripe age. Thanks for sharing this personal info – I am sure there are a handful of your readers who are also affected with cancer either personally or family member and find some solace in knowing they are not alone.

  • My son-in-law is a thyroid cancer survivor. My daughter is a leukemia survivor, as is my father-in-law. We adopted this as our guiding principal during their treatments: “Cancer is not a sentence, just a word.” (Quote from Now That I Have Cancer, I Am Whole, by John R. McFarland.) We also adopted a stray cat and three house plants during the course of these ordeals. Beware of visitors bearing gifts…

  • Carson

    From a dedicated TWIG listener,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your cancer. Being a childhood cancer survivor (30 years ago), I know the ‘joy’ of going through surgery, chemo and radiation therapy. May you continue to live a long and fruitful life, hopefully without the experience of additional treatments!

  • Roger Tessier

    Oh crap!

  • Thanks for being so open and for sharing this Jeff. All the best!

  • Jeff, you have my best wishes. I’m a fellow thyroid-less human. I should let you know that thyroid cancer isn’t without it’s benefits. You may already know, for instance, that even if you eventually have to have the radioiodine treatment (wood knocked), you are REQUIRED to tell people to stay the hell away from you so you don’t nuke them into oblivion. Now, ignoring the revenge fantasies that are sure to pop into a mind like yours, take a moment to let that sink in. … Are you thinking about the relative peace? I hope so.

  • emily

    An idea – alternative medicine. Reach out to. RAYMOND FRANCES AT http://WWW.BEYONDHEALTH.COM. look for him on YouTube…his ideas and approach may help. Take care…

  • Damn, Jeff, you’re some over-achiever. Why is that a clean-living and virtuous guy like you gets all the cancers while so many of us get off scott-free (so far, anyway.)

    Life is clearly not fair.

  • Jeff,
    I am very glad that you chose to share your story. Something is being accomplished by sharing this experience. Many people are dealing with so much adversity in their lives right now (myself included). This adversity can be very isolating and wear on a person’s ability to remain optimistic. I’m sure that you sharing your experience helps many people feel less isolated, even those of us dealing with adversities not related to cancer. Thank you for all that you do. Best wishes to you and your family.

  • I remember being diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer. It was horrifying because as soon as the doctor said the ‘C’ word I literally experienced that effect Alfred Hitchcock perfected where the camera moves away quickly but zooms in on a central point at the same time. Everything went dim and I don’t recall what she said after that. Life stopped like it had rammed into a bridge at 90 mph.

    Thankfully after having the whole bloody thing removed and a radioactive iodine treatment follow-up a month or so later I’ve been cancer-free for close to ten years now. I still think back on it whenever things are particularly tough and remember how bad it could have been.

    That having been said I just wanted to toss my two coppers into the pot and wish you the best of luck. I’m a huge fan of your work and your message of publicness.

    Take it from me you won’t miss your thyroid much at all… The replacement hormone is a tiny pill and a small price to pay all things considered. When people ask I usually refer to my ordeal as Caffeine-Free Diet Cancer. I’ve lost (and come close to losing) family members and friends to cancer and what they went through was a hundred times worse. As my doctor said, “If you had to pick a cancer to get it would be this one.”

  • Sam

    God bless you Jeff Jarvis, see you on this week in Google, keep on fighting.

  • Very sorry to hear this again. Eagerly awaiting your new book, hope you retain the strength to keep pushing on with it.

    All the best from a loyal TWIG fan.

  • Mila Agirre

    I’m very sorry to hear about your cancer but I’m glad it’s “contained”.

    My best wishes and a big hug and yes… I’m a loyal fan of you since I read your book :)

  • I’m so sorry to hear that. But I know the half-full feeling. My pseudo-husband has lymphoma, and like you, he feels guilty even feeling bad about it, even during chemo, as some are just so badly off. It’s heart-wrenching.

    I love hearing you and reading you, so it’s with great relief that I hear you damn voicebox is safely intact! Woe betide the niddlers who would rather you quieted down! I look forward to your next time with Leo and elsewhere, and of course your articles. I’m a true fan! Crushing hug whether you want it or not. You’ll do fine. :D

  • Forgot to say: Very wise and good thing to share it. The more who do, the less the burden, as far as all the trips it sends people on: guilt, shame, fear, horror, numbness…all valid feelings, and there are a million more. Exposure cleans the wound. You know?

  • Jackman_wolf

    Glad to hear you are still kicking around. Always look forward to seeing you on TWiG with Leo and Gina. Here’s hoping you have many many more years with all of us!

  • Pingback: Villa la Quiete / 1: la sconfitta del soggetto e la malattia di Jeff » Scene Digitali - Blog -

  • Jack Chan

    Dear Jeff
    My best wishes to you. You will get well soon.

  • Jeff. Of all the people I follow on the net, you are one of the most respected and valued. Your blog post was well-judged and entirely worthwhile. Thank you. I dearly hope we shall continue to enjoy your sharp and insightful commentary for many years. All the best.

  • Jeff:

    What a shocking and disappointing post. But appreciated as always for your candor, wit and wisdom. Creepy, yes, but you and I know from personal experience (I’m now 7 + years out from prostatectomy with PSA of zero) that cancer can be beat! Vigilance and positive attitude are our winning weapons. Again, you inspire us by example! I look forward to the time, soon I hope, when we can once again share a couple of glasses of wine in their constant states of plenishment! Be well, speak out, enjoy life!

  • thank you for sharing, Jeff. I wish you all the best

  • Joe Weist


    Thanks for sharing your story. First – Godspeed on your recovery. I am hopeful all works out for you as you begin this journey. But secondly, thanks for sharing. We all need to be more aware of the need for regular doctor visits. By sharing your story, you help others.

    I look forward to hearing great news on your progress! All the best to you and your family.

  • Ayo

    I just to discover your blog right now because someone has give me your book (the title in spain is “Y Google ¿Cómo lo haría?”, you know, we don´t understand the acronym WWGO ;-) ). I hope your health improves.

  • Hey Jeff,

    By best wishes. I’m a blood donor but I haven’t donated in a year, and I’m going tomorrow, so I also get my blood tested.

    So your sharing post had at least one effect.

    “stay” well.

  • Maria

    I just started following you on Twitter… Best regards. You will pull through this. I know it.

  • i haven’t visited your blog in a long time but saw your tweet. just wanted to wish you well. doing my best to send good energy your way. thanks for sharing. :)

  • Your health-related posts are valuable, Jeff. They help readers understand warning signs and give them hope for treatment and recovery. It’s service journalism, and it’s well done.

  • We’re all pulling for you to pull through this one too, Jeff. Keep the faith… and keep us posted.

  • Jan Zimak

    To Jeff: get well soon.
    To Cancer: don’t come back

    Hope you come back to TWiG soon

  • Jim R

    Wishing you well.

  • Michael D

    Wishing you the best, keeping typing and fighting.

  • Alison

    Bad news. But you, of all people, will make the best of it. Wishing you well.

  • My mom and dad fought the cancer…and got out of it because they did exactly what you said….they went to see the doctor and were diagnosed early..

    Best wishes Jeff and keep on writting

  • Brent Longborough

    Jeff, thank you for your feisty optimism. My thoughts are with you — best ever good luck in your fight.

  • Well, crap. The “good” thing about thyroid cancer is that it usually is slow growing and not lethal. The other good thing is having Sloan Kettering at your disposal. But it sucks to keep going through all those doctor appointments and procedures and treatments. I hope this is the last of them for you.

    My husband used to tell me that growing old is not for sissies.

  • Susan Schindehette

    all the best, Jeff. truly…

  • Ludmila

    Hello, this morning I’ve just finished to read your book (and it wasn’t so easy to find its Russian edition) – and I wnated to thank you for help – help in opening up my mind. now I want to add the best wishes. let your optimism and your good friends be with you

  • I have found myself disagreeing with you on some things in the past, but not on this, your handling of what was handed to you. Hey, I even find myself lately sharing your visions (for sure, not all of them!) of journalism’s shifting landscape.

    Adelante. Onward. You’re living out what I learned a few years ago was the secret of a good life. Stay in motion!

  • David Morales

    Jeff good luck from a follower from Spain, I’m sure you will be able to succeed in this new battle!!!


  • Jeff: What a remarkable post. You are, as the quaint English phrase has it, a scholar and a gentlemen. Don’t overdo it with the contents of that glass:)

  • jeff,
    thinking & praying for your COMPLETE recovery.

  • John

    About to have my own prostate surgery with Dr. Parra in three weeks. Reading your comments has been of great help to me in putting it all in perspective. I wish you well and thank you for sharing your experience. My thought and well wishes are with you. I look forward to your updates.

  • kmf

    Glad to hear you are doing better!

  • Pam

    Thank you for the story! First I must say”MAKE your colonoscopy appointment TODAY! Not ‘WHEN’ you get around to it!”

    Thanks for the word “contain” very important word to stay focused on.

    My dad is going in for prostate cancer surgery next week. This is after fighting lung cancer last year and getting a new heart before that so I feel for you!

    Keep your spirits up!
    my best to you!

  • Ana M.


    I wish you the very best and hope that you beat this.

    Wishing you well,


  • Jeff,
    We both had thyroid cancer surgery the same day! I tuned in to watch TWiG, and there was another person having thyroid surgery.
    My cancer was also contained and caught very early.
    My best wishes in your recovery. I will be following it from a very personal perspective!


    • That’s great, Dan — contained is great word. Best wishes back to you.

  • All the best from Germany! The fact that you are a cool guy would be reason enough to wish you good luck that things won’t turn sour again. Beyond that, however, we (in Germany in particular) need you and your positive thinking. So hang in there! :)


  • Jeff,

    even if I don’t know you personally and even if I never commented on any of your blogposts… I am a loyal reader of your book and your blog. You are an inspiring person, writing about interesting topics, always with a controversial but well argumented opinion that made me think more than once about the topics you coverd.

    In my kindredship way to many had cancer, some survived, some didn’t. But they all battled a hard fight against an opponent who doesn’t know commiseration nor leniency.

    Well, I am sure you’ll know all that…

    Be strong Jeff, fight hard, give everything you have to beat this horrible disease.

    I am wishing you the very best, take care Mr. Jarvis!

    All the best from the Netherlands!

    Take care!

  • As a person who also has cancer I respect anyone who is willing to discuss their experience of living with this condition in a public forum. I hope it all goes well for you.

  • Brian Sims

    Our thoughts are with you Jeff. Stay strong!

  • It sucks to hear that it’s back, but “contained” definitely sounds like a glass-half-full scenario. I’m also thrilled that your voice is still OK as you’ve got so much good stuff to say… and listening to Gina, Leo & yourself is always a treat!

    As for sharing this stuff with us, thank you. Whether you want to believe it or not, we all give a damn about you and I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that we appreciate the updates.

  • uli

    Hi Jeff
    I am 40 and waiting for a heart transplant and I have some notion of what you`re dealing with on the mental side i.e. to croak or no to croak…will I or won`t I? We can’t really do much except wait eh? Time, the great healer! I just read WWGD. You are a true webvangelist – it`s great! Stay busy and keep writing and so will I. Very best to you,
    Uli Palm

    • Uli,
      I went through nothing. You are going through something truly heroic. I hope it all works for you and soon!

  • Jeff,
    Sorry to hear of the second cancer surfacing. I am so glad to hear it was found at a time that it could be considered contained after the surgery. As you may know, my wife, Cathy, was daignosed early with stage 0 Breast Cancer. She underwent surgery and was then essentially given a clean bill of health. I couldn’t agree more with your statement, “Please go see your doc”. We are so grateful that early detection allowed for my wife’s cancer to be found and dealt with. Thanks for posting. I think the message needs to be reinforced regularly.
    Best Regards,

  • Charles Anderson


    Really sorry to hear about your cancer, and I hope you get the better of it soon. I greatly enjoy reading your blog posts and listening to you on TWIG, and I look forward to doing so for many years to come.

    Kindest regards,


  • Jerry


    I just got the results of my annual blood test, which showed a big spike in my PSA. The first thing I did was head for your blog. The second thing I’ll do is call a urologist. Thanks for sharing your story.


  • Dan


    I only recently heard you talking about your prostate on TWIG and found this post.

    I too have had cancer (kidney) recently. Like you it has been found early and actioned. The comments to your post have helped lift my spirits as so many have done well from early treatment, and are getting on with life.

    Thanks for sharing your story.


    • Dan,
      Thanks and best of luck with your cancer. It’s a detour.