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Cancer survivors: Ever-growing numbers of amazing people

Written By | Jun 7, 2016

SAN DIEGO, June 7, 2016 — There are approximately 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States today, according to a report by the American Cancer Society in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute.

The report anticipates that the number of cancer survivors will increase to more than 20 million by 2026.

Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society

Image courtesy of American Cancer Society

Growth in the population of cancer survivors is attributed to improving methods for early detection and continuously improving treatment methodologies.

Approximately 47 percent of cancer survivors are 70 years old or older, with 5 percent being younger than 40 years of age, according to the report.

“Cancer affects all of us, whether you’re a daughter, mother, sister, friend, coworker, doctor or patient.” – Jennifer Anniston

The report goes on to name the three most common forms of cancer found in male and female populations.


  • Breast cancer
  • Uterine cancer (including endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma)
  • Colon Cancer


  • Prostate cancer
  • Colon and rectal cancer
  • Melanoma skin cancer

There are many different forms of cancer.

In fact, the National Cancer Institute indicates that there are over 100 different types.

The following are some of the more commonly known types of cancer, which begin in specific types of cells, according to the National Cancer Institute.

  • Carcinoma: The most common type of cancer, formed by epithelial cells in the body.
  • Sarcoma: Cancer which forms in bone and soft tissue, such as fat, blood vessels, lymph vessels and muscle.
  • Leukemia: Cancer that has its origins in the blood-forming tissue of the bone marrow.
  • Lymphoma: Develops in the lymphocytes (T cells or B cells), which are disease-fighting white blood cells, which are part of the immune system.
  • Multiple myeloma: Beginning in the plasma cells, this cancer can build up in the bone marrow and form tumors in bones throughout the body.
  • Melanoma- Melanoma begins in cells that become melanocytes, cells that make up the melanin (pigment) of skin.
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors: Known to come in a variety of different tumor types, these tumors are named based on the type of cells they form and where they form them.

“We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up or fight like hell” — Lance Armstrong

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer produces a variety of emotional reactions, which can include feelings such as fear, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress, all of which are normal under the circumstances.

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If symptoms such as persistent sleep disturbances, irritability, emotional outbursts, nervousness, sluggishness, poor concentration and changing eating habits and loss of interest in routine activities occur, it is recommended to seek immediate attention and support from a qualified health care provider.

Counseling and support groups that provide engagement with others who are undergoing cancer treatment can provide an invaluable source of shared experiences, education and insights that could be comforting and emotionally supportive.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do” — Eleanor Roosevelt

In his groundbreaking book, “Love, Medicine and Miracles,” Bernie S. Siegel, M.D., delved into the research of psychologist Al Siebert, due to his own interest in understanding what constitutes a survivor personality–why some patients overcome cancer and why others do not.

Siebert studied a small group of Veterans who had survived the Korean War and their obvious toughness, while also possessing a personality quality of relaxed awareness.

His study revealed that survivors had complex characters with a union of many seemingly opposing traits, i.e., they were both serious and playful, tough and gentle, logical and intuitive, hard-working and lazy, shy and aggressive, introspective and outgoing, and the like.

Siebert realized that the paradoxical nature of their personalities did not fit neatly into any particular psychological paradigm, which he believed made them more flexible personalities, thereby possessing more qualities upon which to draw during times of upheaval and stress.

Siebert’s work was astounding in that he discovered that the survivor personality went beyond the concept of self-actualization and advanced to the psychological and emotional realm of what he called synchronicity–survivors act not only from self-interest but almost simultaneously from the interest of others.

Siegel’s book also explored the work conducted by the Simonton program, which profiled the survivor personality. “They are generally successful at careers they like, they remain employed during illness or return to work soon…They are receptive and creative, sometimes hostile, have strong egos and a sense of their own adequacy…They are rarely docile…and retain control of their lives…They are intelligent…with strong self-esteem…and tend to be self-reliant…They possess a bent for non-conformity.”

Siebert’s research also indicated that a survivor personality retains a sense of childlike wonder, playfulness and innocent curiosity.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moment s of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy” — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There is currently no known equation for how a patient with cancer could resultantly become a survivor.

Research studies relative to a survivor personality could hold key information about the traits and qualities necessary to overcome the prognosis, fear and treatment after a cancer diagnosis.

Another key element in the likelihood of becoming a cancer survivor is early diagnosis and prevention.

The American Cancer Society provides recommended guidelines for early detection of breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and more.

Contact the American Cancer Society at for invaluable information.

Or call the American Cancer Society at 1 800-227-2345 to locate the chapter nearest you.

It is imperative to remember that receiving a cancer diagnosis is not an immediate death sentence.

Through early detection, prevention and a healthy lifestyle there is every possibility for a positive treatment outcome and the opportunity to become one of America’s ever-growing number of amazing cancer survivors.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 32 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.

Copyright © 2016 by At Your Home Familycare

Laurie Edwards-Tate

Since 1984, Laurie Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm and children. Laurie is Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.