JUN 02, 2024 3:00 AM PDT

Don't Forget to Celebrate the Cancer Survivors in Your Life!

WRITTEN BY: Katie Kokolus

Today, June 2, designated as National Cancer Survivors Day®, honors cancer survivors.  Cancer survivors include anyone living with a history of cancer.  So, an individual becomes a “cancer survivor” as soon as receiving a cancer diagnosis and remains a cancer survivor for the rest of his or her life. 

The broad categorization of survivorship has created significant diversity among cancer survivors.  They exist at all ages, races, and genders.  Cancer survivors also have diverse experiences because they could have a history of any cancer, may have received various types of treatment or interventions, and could be living at any stage of the disease.  Cancer survivors can be in remission but may also be battling an untreatable disease. 

Thus, the annual “Celebration of Life” brings attention to all people living with a history of cancer, regardless of their health or current treatment path. This celebration began in 1988 as a mission of the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation (NCSDF), a nonprofit organization. 

NCSDF supports hospitals, advocacy groups, and other organizations to encourage community education about cancer survivors' challenges.  This day reminds everyone about the hardships cancer survivors experience, even when treatment has ended and even if a patient achieves remission or a cure!

NCSD reminds us that cancer survivors can face adversity ranging from challenges related to access to treatment and care, the burden of medical costs, strains on romantic and platonic relationships, and emotional stress. 

Importantly, the number of cancer survivors is rising!  Many factors contribute to this good news, including advances in treatments that allow for longer lives post-diagnosis, improved screening techniques that help us find cancer sooner, and overall trends toward longer lifespans. 

As of January 2022, more than 18 million cancer survivors lived in the United States.  These cancer survivors include 8.3 million males and 9.7 million females.  Among men, the most common malignancies cancer survivors faced included prostate cancer, melanoma, and colorectal cancer.  Among women, cancer survivors most often experience breast, uterine, and thyroid cancers.  About half of the cancer survivors in the US received their diagnosis in less than ten years, and about two-thirds of all cancer survivors in the US were over age 65. 

On this special National Cancer Survivors Day, I’d like to personally recognize all the cancer survivors who read our Labroots articles!  I’d also encourage those of us who have not personally faced cancer to reach out to the cancer survivors among your friends and family.


Sources: CA, NCSD

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I received a PhD in Tumor Immunology from SUNY Buffalo and BS and MS degrees from Duquesne University. I also completed a postdoc fellowship at the Penn State College of Medicine. I am interested in developing novel strategies to improve the efficacy of immunotherapies used to extend cancer survivorship.
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