Clearly the smartest character on this season of Fargo, it's likely Besty will solve the mystery of Rye Gerhardt's disappearance. Following a long line of intelligent female detectives in the series from Marge Gunderson to Betsy's own daughter Molly Solverson, Betsy has managed to put together more pieces of the mysterious case of the diner massacre together than anyone else — and she's not even a police officer! Unfortunately, the only thing stopping Betsy from being the best amateur detective in the tri-state area is her cancer, for which she has started chemotherapy for at the beginning of the season. But, what type of cancer does Betsy have on Fargo?
Her illness isn't talked about much during the show, and when it is spoken of it's talked about fairly casually — it's first referred to as "this cancer bullsh*t" by Lou Solverson's conspiracy-prone friend — and takes a backseat to more important matters that Betsy is more interested in, like what that shoe was doing up in that tree on the night of the shooting. While it seems that the type of cancer isn't as important as the fact that she has it, I have a theory as to what type of cancer Betsy most likely has, and it is, unfortunately, a cancer that affects a lot of people — breast cancer.
Statistically, breast cancer is the likeliest option for what is ailing Betsy Solverson. According to BreastCancer.org, "About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime." In Minnesota, where Betsy lives, breast cancer is the second-most common type of cancer in the entire state with 3,330 cases in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society — second only to Prostate Cancer in total cases.
Stronger evidence for Betsy being afflicted with breast cancer isn't in her actions or habits, but in what she doesn't do. The three most common types of cancer in women are breast cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Many of the risk factors of colorectal cancer relate to poor health habits and living a sedentary lifestyle, but it seems that Betsy is fairly in-shape. There is also no indication that Betsy ever smoked cigarettes, which are the largest risk factor associated with lung cancer.
While Betsy doesn't display many risk factors for breast cancer, there are a few indications related to Betsy's race and financial background that make breast cancer the likely culprit. According to the American Cancer Society, "white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women ... Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer." A recent report from The Telegraph also states that "Middle classes 'more likely to develop breast and skin cancer,'" which would fit the description of Lou and Betsy's living situation.
Although this is all just educated guesswork, what is certain, however, is that Betsy Solverson is living up to her last name by getting closer and closer to solving the disappearance of Rye Gerhardt, without even donning a state trooper's uniform. Here's hoping we get to see more of her amateur detective skills as the season progresses.
Image: Mathias Clamer/FX; Screenshot/FX; Chris Large/FX