National Cancer Survivors Day, according to the foundation with the same name, is being observed every first Sunday of June (which falls on June 7 this year 2015). Parades, inspirational programs, motivational speeches, art exhibits, and others will be held during the event. But more important, this day is a celebration “to honor cancer survivors, to bring attention to the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship, and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and inspiring.”
In the website of the American Cancer Society, U.S. cancer survivor population will reach 18,914,670 by the year 2024. What can be the reasons behind this great news? Generally, these are early detection, better treatments from and teamwork by healthcare providers, enough finances, patient trust and cooperation, and more important, family and community support.
However, the journey of patients does not end here. Again, according to the National Cancer Survivors Foundation, these individuals have “unique needs” that are somewhat hindered by these challenges: “limited access to specialists, a lack of information about promising new treatments, inadequate or no insurance, difficulty finding employment, and psychosocial struggles”. Cancer survivors also have to face “the long-term effects of cancer, which can include physical side effects; psychological, social, and emotional concerns; and financial hardships”. Because of these, they still need all the help they can get to live a quality life.
“National Cancer Survivors Day is an opportunity for cancer survivors to join with each other and celebrate this new reality in cancer survivorship that more people are living longer and better quality lives after cancer than ever before. It is also an opportunity to bring attention to the challenges these survivors face after diagnosis, and sometimes even years after treatment ends,” says Foundation spokesperson Laura Shipp.
In the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in its “From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Translation” report, it wrote that, first and foremost, healthcare providers, patient advocates and others should take actions to increase awareness about the needs of cancer survivors and to make sure that they receive proper survivorship care. It also mentioned that they should be given complete care summary and follow-up plan. Another recommendation also stressed that concerned government agencies (such as The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, National Cancer Institute, and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), private organizations (like the American Cancer Society) and even Congress should work to support and offer effective survivorship care.
It is not easy to become a cancer patient; hence, being able to survive calls for a huge celebration. June 7 is National Cancer Survivors Day but it should be celebrated every day if only to emphasize the growing number of people surviving the disease and more important, to let everyone know that even after survival, they still need support from their families, the communities they live in, the private organizations that take efforts to assist them in every way they can, the healthcare providers that can offer medical help, and the government that should give them access to affordable health insurance.