For almost 16 million Americans and their families and friends, today is a significant day. A day to celebrate life. A day to recognize the journeys walked and fought. Today is National Cancer Survivors Day.
Observed the first Sunday in June, National Cancer Survivors Day is a special day to recognize cancer survivors, bring attention to ongoing challenges faced by cancer survivors and to celebrate life.
It is truly awesome that research, new treatment options, early detection and prevention programs are helping more people survive this disease. However, surviving cancer doesn’t end when treatment ends. For many people, emotional, physical and social side effects may cause challenges big and small. Financial hardship is not uncommon, and denial of health and life insurance seems to be an ongoing risk. Add in relationship challenges, anxiety and concern about relapses or developing a new cancer, navigating a career, and and more. So while this day is about celebrating life, it is also about raising awareness of these struggles that many people face on a daily basis.
As a bone cancer survivor diagnosed at 21 and a melanoma survivor, every day is truly a gift to me. I have tried to embrace optimism, positivity, helping others, opening myself to new adventures, love and laughter, and learning from lessons along the way. While I too face the anxiety, frustration and side effects related to life as a cancer survivor, I try to balance these by focusing on all the activities, opportunities, friends I’ve met, and other positive points brought to my life because of cancer. Sounds funny, right? A deadly disease can bring positive to your life? I believe we can say that about almost all situations
This day, and every day, holds a special meaning to my family too. For many years my dad and I celebrated our survivorship together. Unfortunately, several years ago he died from multiple myeloma. Although he is no longer here physically with us, his love, legacy and story live on through my family and advocacy work (read how I shared his story during the One Voice Against Cancer lobby day in Washington, DC). We celebrate him and his love.
I am pleased and honored to share that my blog, “Lessons Learned from Being a Young Adult Survivor,” was published on the National Cancer Survivors Day website. Feel free to read about these lessons and how I try to embrace life every day.
How do you embrace and enjoy life?