Overcoming the Odds: Dr. Marcia Schaefer’s Dual Journey Through Thyroid and Melanoma Cancer

Dr. Marcia Schaefer faced not one, but two types of cancer simultaneously: thyroid and melanoma. Her fight began suddenly. With no symptoms and normal thyroid panel results, it was an ordinary dental visit that was her first clue of what was later diagnosed as metastatic thyroid cancer. More specifically, it was when her dental hygienist noticed she could no longer extend her neck back as necessary for the exam.

Soon, however, an even greater challenge arose—a diagnosis of deadly melanoma when it was only the size of a pin tip.
How common are these types of cancers?

Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer affects thousands of people each year and the average age of a person who is diagnosed with this form of cancer is 51. The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for thyroid cancer in the U.S. for the year 2024 are:

  • Over 44,000 new cases of thyroid cancer
  • Over 2,100 deaths from thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is about 3X more common in women than in men. Although generally treatable, thyroid cancer’s silent progression often eludes detection until advanced stages, making vigilant health monitoring essential.


According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancers, but causes a large majority of skin cancer deaths. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for melanoma in the U.S. for the year 2024 are:

  • Over 100,000 new melanoma
  • Over 8,000 people are expected to die of melanoma

The average age of men and women at time of diagnosis is 66. But melanoma is not uncommon even among those younger than 30. In fact, it’s one of the most common cancers in young adults.

I was only 32 years old when I heard those dreaded words, “You have cancer.” And let me tell you, it turned my world upside down. Learning that I had Stage 4 Melanoma was about the last thing I expected, and I had a hard time coming to terms with it. I would not wish a cancer diagnosis for even my worst enemy.

Turning Pain Into Purpose

Cancer survivors often share a common purpose – to tell others about how the insights gained from their painful journey. I won’t go into great depth about my personal journey back to health (you can read about that in my book “I Used to Have Cancer“); rather I want to spotlight Dr. Marcia Schaefer’s accomplishments as a survivor of both thyroid cancer and deadly melanoma.

I think you will be inspired by Dr. Schaefer’s incredible story, from her startling diagnosis to her daring decision to forego traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation in favor of integrative approaches such as those offered at the Gerson Institute in Mexico. Her miraculous recovery after just six months as evidenced by a clear scan is a testament to both resilience and the integrative health approaches she chose.

Her choice to pursue alternative therapies highlights the significance of patient autonomy in cancer care–an esteemed principle upheld here at The Templeton Wellness Foundation. Her story serves as a powerful illustration of the potential of alternative health strategies in terms of personal philosophy or desired approaches to healing.

Dr. Schaefer’s case highlights both early detection and integrative medical practices as essential tools in combatting complex diseases like cancer. Her proactive approach in managing her health, using nutritional therapy and non-conventional treatments led to an amazing recovery and sustained return to health.

I invite you to listen in on my recent interview with cancer survivor, Dr. Marcia Schaefer:


Key Statistics for Thyroid Cancer, American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/thyroid-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

Key Statistics for Melanoma, American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/melanoma-skin-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

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