Celebrate Life on National Cancer Survivors Day

May 31, 2017

A cancer diagnosis induces myriad negative emotions. It’s the start of an arduous journey both mentally and physically. However, there is a large support group out there capable of curtailing many of these negative emotions.

Numerous advances in cancer prevention, early detection, treatment, and follow-up care are producing a large contingent of cancer survivors. There are more than 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States alone.

The growing network inspired the creation of National Cancer Survivors Day, an annual observance that celebrates life for those who have survived and serves as inspiration for those recently diagnosed. The celebration aims to showcase how life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and even inspiring. Observed the first Sunday each June, this year’s National Cancer Survivors Day is June 4th.

Started in 1988, National Cancer Survivors Day aspires to draw attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorships to promote more resources, research, and survivor friendly legislation to improve survivors’ quality of life.

Even after treatment is complete and the cancer survivor is in remission, life can still be difficult as they transition into post-treatment care. Many survivors cite unpreparedness for both the physical and psycho-social challenges that coincide with the transition to post-treatment care. While patients are elated that treatment is over, a new chapter begins and brings with it new challenges, hope, happiness, and concerns – and managing all these emotions can be a challenge on its own.

Much of life post treatment focuses on maintaining a positive attitude. Returning to “normal life” can feel jarring. Being able to look at everything in a positive light can subside concerns, but of course it’s not always possible. Survivors shouldn’t beat themselves up or allow others to make them feel guilt when feeling stressed or upset.

Many survivors also reevaluate their nutritional habits. Eating well helps survivors regain strength, rebuild tissue, and improve overall feelings. Survivors shouldn’t hesitate to ask a dietitian for help with building a nutritious, balanced eating plan. Choosing a variety of foods from all food groups is typically recommended. Lots of fruits and vegetables, high-fiber foods help make a healthy diet.

Setting aside time for fitness is another focal point for survivors. Even during treatment physical activity is important and offers numerous advantages. Adults should be exercising at least 150 total minutes a week. Following treatment, many survivors find gradually increasing their exercise and intensity is the best way to establish a routine. What many people would find as a low or moderate workout can feel high-octane for a survivor. Survivors should speak with their doctor about exercising and find a pace and duration that’s comfortable for them.

Cancer survivors should tap into the large network of support out there. Memorial Healthcare even hosts a Cancer Support Group on the first Monday of every month. The group, open to current patients and survivors and their family members or other support persons, meets from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the Community Room at the Memorial Healthcare Cancer Center. The group explores a variety of topics related to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.