Celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day®
Major advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment have resulted in longer survival. among those who have been diagnosed with cancer. However, as I have written of here many times, surviving cancer can leave a legacy of physical and emotional problems in its wake. Survivors may face many challenges including access to cancer specialists and promising new treatments, denial of health and life insurance coverage, financial hardships long after the initial diagnosis and treatment, employment problems, psychological struggles and the strain on personal relationships and the profound fear of recurrence. However, cancer survivors can live active, productive lives even though they still face many challenges.
National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual, worldwide Celebration of Life that is held in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, Canada, and other participating countries. Participants unite in a symbolic event to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful and productive.
In most areas, National Cancer Survivors Day is traditionally observed on the first Sunday in June, and today NCSD is celebrating its 23rd year . The non-profit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation supports hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and other cancer-related organizations that host National Cancer Survivors Day events in their communities by providing free guidance, education and networking. Anyone considering hosting an NCSD event can obtain a free NCSD Planning Guide on their website.
My friend Jody, an inspirational survivor herself, has written a lovely reflection on NCSD. You can read it here. Jody writes that we don’t really need a special day to celebrate survivorship, “because every single day already is” She is right of course, but we can always use this day to unite together in our appreciation of our collective survivorship.
May you continue to thrive and be well today and for all the days to come.
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I wasn’t aware of this day, and yes, I would agree with Jody that we don’t need one day to celebrate survivorship…every day is a celebration!
My wife, Michelle, died of metastatic leiomyosarcoma. Her cancer was an experience that we had together, each differently, but one no less than the other. Her illness and death, as well as my son’s illness and death, took away part of my life, but it also gave us the opportunity to choose the life that we would live, as opposed merely living out a life simply accumulated over the years.
Arthur Frank writes, “To seize the opportunities offered by illness, we must live illness actively; we must think about it and talk about it, and some, like me, must write about it. Through thinking, talking, and writing we begin, as individuals and as a society, to accept illness fully. Only then can we learn that it is nothing special. Being ill is just another way of living, but by the time we have lived through illness we are living differently. Because illness can lead us to live differently, accepting it is neither easy nor self-evident…Seizing the opportunity means experiencing it fully, then letting go and moving on.”
He continues, “A problem with the view of recovery as the ideal ending of illness is that some people do not recover. If recovery is taken to be the ideal, how is it possible to find value in the experience of an illness that either lingers on as chronic illness or ends in death? The answer seems to be in focusing less on recovery and more on renewal. Even continuing illness and dying contain opportunities for renewal. For all you lose, you have an opportunity to gain: closer relationships, more poignant appreciations, clarified values. You are entitled to mourn what you can no longer be, but do not let this morning obscure your sense of what you can become. You are embarking on a dangerous opportunity. Do not curse your fate; count your possibilities.”
Frank also writes to those who care for the ill. “Caregivers are the other halves of the conversations I encourage the ill to engage in. They are also the other halves of illness experiences. The care they give begins by doing things for ill persons, but it turns into sharing the life they lead.”
May everyone continue to thrive and be well today and for all the days to come.
Denis, I am so deeply sorry for your loss and I also deeply appreciate the insight, wisdom and compassion you have been sharing lately with us here on the blog. May you continue to find comfort and peace on your own journey of survivorship.
Thank you for the reminder and post Marie. Dennis, I too share Marie’s sincere condolences. Thank you so much for the reminders that life is precious and it is sweet and we must take every opportunity to live life. I like the wording of “Actively liviving” In a way when we are faced with major challenges of life we really are never the same. It doesn’t have to just be cancer. Blessings to you today!
Belated shout out to all my fellow cancer survivors. Survive and Thrive!