During the month of June, we celebrate the nearly 17 million Americans who have bravely and successfully battled cancer, to earn the designation SURVIVOR.
Whether someone is still undergoing treatment or has long since won their battle against cancer, June is an opportunity to celebrate all cancer survivors. Nationally recognized as Cancer Survivor Month, June is an opportunity for all 16.9 million cancer survivors across the country to celebrate their milestones and recognize those who have supported them along the way. It is also an opportunity for those who have not been affected by cancer to learn and understand the challenges that accompany survivorship. This year, whether a survivor or not, there are many opportunities to embrace National Cancer Survivor Month.
Celebrating Cancer Survivors
Many people who have not battled cancer are under the misconception that once treatment ends, the difficulties related to cancer come to a screeching stop. The truth is, however, moving forward as a survivor is accompanied by many new struggles. As cancer survivors navigate new challenges, many of the support systems they had throughout treatment waver making adjusting to their new normal exceptionally challenging and isolating.
Along with survivorship often comes physical, emotional, and financial hardship. Though often only the tip of the iceberg, treatment leaves the human body fatigued and weak. It often takes a long time for the body to adjust and adapt to the new normal. Even while understanding this in theory, it can be especially demotivating to survivors. Most feel the urge to jump back into an old routine and pick up where one left off; however, when the body isn’t ready or capable to do so, it can be especially demoralizing. Aside from the frustration of setting new limits on oneself, survivor’s guilt can result in mental health issues.
This month, as survivors are celebrated and honored, it is important to remember that the battle is not necessarily over. Celebrating National Cancer Survivor Month means remembering to check in, offer support, and share resources to assist with coping moving forward. Survivorship in and of itself is a milestone to celebrate, but it is not the end of the challenging path.
Celebrating as a Cancer Survivor
One of the most impactful ways to celebrate National Cancer Survivor Month as a survivor is to share one’s story. Every day, handfuls of people across the world are being diagnosed with cancer. Any survivor can remember the moment that they were diagnosed – the moment that made their stomach sink. With all of the information in the world at one’s fingertips, a newly diagnosed person will likely absorb as much information as they can about their new diagnosis. While statistics and figures can be helpful in the beginning, having a human connection and hearing a personal experience can be truly significant. The National Foundation for Cancer Research is dedicated to connecting those affected by cancer. For those willing to share their story, please visit Faces and Voices of Cancer at www.facesandvoicesofcancer.org.
Increasing Cancer Survivorship Together
Thanks to dedicated research teams, cancer survivor rates are continuing to increase. Many types of cancers are considered extremely treatable. To continue this upwards trend, it is important that everyone, regardless of whether or not they have had cancer in the past, schedule regular screening appointments as recommended. Abiding by the cancer screening guidelines assists in early detection, ultimately increasing one’s chance of survival.
Lessening the Side-Effects for Cancer Survivors
In addition to regular screenings, each individual can make a major impact in the development of new and better treatments. The National Foundation for Cancer Research is supporting numerous innovative projects including those that aim to lessen the side-effects of cancer, a particularly important initiative for cancer survivors—many of them who live with long-term side-effects of their treatment. NFCR scientist Yung-Chi Cheng, Ph.D. has projects focuses on alleviating the unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects of chemotherapy for colon, rectal, pancreatic and liver cancer patients.
Many research teams rely on outside funding and support to move forward with game-changing discoveries. If you’d like to help drive these initiatives, consider making a donation in the name of a cancer survivor, or to support NFCR researchers, please visit our website.
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