SAN DIEGO, June 2, 2015 — National Cancer Survivors Day is the annual celebration for those who have courageously transcended cancer to become survivors.
Observed worldwide on the first Sunday of June each year, hundreds of cancer survivors and their families and friends gather in communities across America, celebrating life and inspiring others.
There are over 11 million cancer survivors in the United States today. The American Cancer Society reports that that number is expected to increase to 19 million by 2024.
By the end of 2015, it is estimated that there will be 1,658,370 new cases of cancer and 589,430 cancer-related deaths.
“Time is shortening. But every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me.” – Ingrid Bergman
It is critical to make daily healthy lifestyle choices in order to help prevent the occurrence of cancer.
There is a strong correlation between being overweight, eating a poor diet, leading a sedentary lifestyle, lacking sufficient exercise and smoking and an increased likelihood of developing cancer.
It is estimated that over two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese, having a body mass index (BMI) of 26 or higher, according to the American Cancer Society.
“We have two options, medically and emotionally: Give up or fight like hell.” – Lance Armstrong
Diagnostic tools are available that can provide early diagnosis.
Regardless of the type of cancer diagnosed, early detection is critical for taking advantage of the benefits of early intervention and treatment, which significantly increase the likelihood of survival.
The American Cancer Society provides the following guidelines for health care screenings and cancer detection:
- Colorectal cancer and polyps testing is recommended for both men and women starting at the age of 50.
- Cervical cancer screening is recommended for women from age 21 to 65.
- Endometrial cancer screening is recommended for women who are undergoing menopause and have not undergone a hysterectomy.
- Lung cancer screening is recommended for men and women from the age 55 to 74 for those who are smokers or have smoked within the last 15 years.
- Prostate cancer screening is recommended for men starting at the age of 45.
- Basic cancer-related screenings are recommended for men and women from age 20, which are considered part of an annual routine health care exam (including thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes and ovaries.
“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” – John Diamon
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a frightening and often life-changing event, with the potential to significantly affect every aspect of a person’s life.
Upon diagnosis, it is important to seek the assistance and expertise of a qualified health care professional who will help develop an appropriate treatment plan and recommend a cancer care team.
The American Cancer Society provides a helpful and easy to follow guide, “Life after treatment: The next chapter in your survivorship journey,” summarized as follows:
- Treatment summary
- Survivorship care plan
- Side effects of treatment–physical issues
- Side effects of treatment–emotional and social issues
- Managing health and wellness after treatment
“Cancer affects all of us, whether you’re a daughter, mother, sister, friend, co-worker, doctor or patient.” – Jennifer Aniston
In his popular book, “Love, Medicine and Miracles,” Dr. Bernie Siegel writes about the helpful personality characteristics of a survivor, based on research by psychologist Al Siebert:
He found “that one of their (survivors) most prominent characteristics is a complexity of character…They are both serious and playful, tough and gentle, logical and intuitive, hard-working and lazy, shy and aggressive, introspective and outgoing…They are paradoxical and do not fit neatly into the usual psychological categories.”
Dr. Siegel further says that survivors tend to have high self-esteem and strong egos and to retain control of their lives. They tend to enjoy their careers and remain at work as they go through recovery, or they return to work as soon as possible after completing their treatment.
Being a cancer survivor could be due in part to a special set of personality characteristics or possibly the determination to acquire them.
Surviving a shocking cancer diagnosis often includes grueling treatment, significant lifestyle modifications and sweeping changes in behavior, all as an integral part of the healing process.
Ultimately, the decision to survive cancer and choose to live is as individual as the journey itself.
Join thousands of people June 7 on National Cancer Survivors Day, celebrating the milestones of every cancer survivor.
Let us honor the unique personal characteristics of cancer survivors that motivate them to move towards health in spite of great obstacles and the tenacity they possess that brings hope and inspiration.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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