Mission and History

The mission of the Light of Life Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) is to improve the quality of life of thyroid cancer patients through continual education of the lay public and the medical community, and by promoting research and development to improve thyroid cancer care.

In 1997, while in recovery from her thyroid surgery and radiation treatments, Joan Shey created the Light of Life Foundation for Thyroid Cancer to create a support and education network that was not available at the time of her diagnosis.  She asked the doctors who saved her life to join her mission.  Together, they began distributing gift baskets to patients in isolation, organized support groups, held informational seminars, and sold merchandise to fuel awareness and raise funds for thyroid cancer research.

Under Joan’s direction, the Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3), has grown into a national and international network of patients and physicians who are bringing attention to the importance of this disease.


The Light of Life Foundation supports a groundbreaking annual fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, through which an outstanding physician is funded to train alongside an interdisciplinary team of top endocrinologists, head and neck surgeons and nuclear medicine specialists.  The fellow then returns to his or her home institution with an advanced understanding of treating thyroid cancer that they disseminate.  Over the last decade, the Light of Life Foundation Honorary Award has become recognized amongst the worldwide thyroid cancer medical community.

Through our research fund, the Foundation also supports development of new diagnostic and treatment approaches for thyroid cancer.


In partnership with Lowe Worldwide, the Light of Life Foundation created a groundbreaking awareness “Check Your Neck” campaign that brought thyroid cancer into the public eye.  The award-winning television, print and radio campaign generated pro bono placements in publications including Time, InStyle, Everyday with Rachel Ray, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and The Daily News.  The magazine ads were also supported by a popular radio PSA recorded by thyroid cancer survivor and world-renowned recording artist Rod Stewart.

Year two of the “Check Your Neck” Campaign was targeted at prompting men to have their necks checked.  To instill a sense of urgency, the Light of Life Foundation team rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange in June 2006; thyroid cancer facts ran the ticker throughout the day.

In this, our third year, the Foundation is emphasizing that thyroid cancer can affect anyone regardless of gender, race or age.  The campaign “Confidence Kills,” uses real stories to communicate that having a doctor check your neck could save your life.

The Light of Life Foundation also sells merchandise that spreads awareness of the growing onslaught of thyroid cancer diagnoses.  Most merchandise is available in the disease’ official support color: purple.

Education and Patient Support

The Light of Life Foundation conducts several education and patient support activities, including:

  • An annual educational symposium that brings physicians, patients and families together to discuss issues and learn about new treatment advances.
  • Monthly patient support groups.
  • An online Light Of Life Facebook community for patients and survivors. Please visit us again as we build a website group.
  • An informational hotline. Call 1-609-409-0900.
  • An annual fundraiser and golf outing.
  • Educational materials on understanding thyroid cancer.
  • A low-iodine cookbook for patients’ use during periods of scanning. The cookbook offers suggestions about what they can prepare to eat healthfully during this time.
  • A lending library of entertaining movies for patients during isolation treatments.

Please join the Light of Life Foundation in our efforts to spread awareness of Thyroid Cancer, offer support to patients, and further medical advancements towards a cure and the improvement of patient’s quality of life.