June 6 of this year is a Celebration of Life for the cancer survivor. It is a “CELEBRATION of survivors, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community” (nscd.org). During the month of June, an opportunity is also created to raise awareness of the on-going challenges that cancer survivors experience.
National Cancer Survivor Day should be celebrated by everyone who has supported a cancer survivor – the family member, the friend and the medical professional. Cancer survivors usually connect with each other and share their story and journey. Advocates use this opportunity to educate the public about cancer and promote for more resources to support persons diagnosed with cancer.
A cancer SURVIVOR is anyone who has had cancer. Not everyone likes this word and so some persons prefer to identify with being “a person who has had cancer” or “a person living with cancer”. While the experience with cancer is unique for every person, there is no doubt uniformly that life is definitely different after cancer. Cancer impacts individuals, their families, their relationships in so many ways – physically, emotionally and financially.
As a survivor, you will most likely be left with the following reactions:
• A greater appreciation for life
• A greater acceptance of yourself
• Increased anxiety about your health
• Changes in your relationships and friendships
Sometimes, life changes drastically after cancer. The physical and emotional effects of cancer may be temporary or permanent. Some may be directly related to the treatments received – chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. But there are tips for improving your quality of life after cancer:
• Eating a balanced die exercising regularly
• Maintaining a healthy weight getting a good night’s rest
• Reducing stress avoiding alcohol and tobacco
Understanding how survivors have been affected by cancer allows us to be able to support them in their personal lives, as well as in the workplaces.