June 1, 2013 | by Tami Dennis
Put simply, National Cancer Survivors Day is a celebration of life. But when it comes to surviving cancer, nothing is simple. Every survivor is special, every moment is a victory and every story is unique.
Former City of Hope Hodgkin lymphoma patient Sean Kent recently wrote:
“Finally, just when it seems you can’t take anymore 'medicine,' when the cure is worse than the disease, when you have no veins left to offer the nurses and their sharp sticks, when you can’t take the smell of the hospital one more time or the sight of your sickly self anymore – you finish your treatment and go home. Free forever.
It’s really that simple. Of course it will take you a while to regain your strength and to get over the mental trauma of what you’ve been through. Don’t underestimate that.
But you are done with the pain. You are done with the nausea. You are done being a patient. In fact, you are just you again and really, what a wonderful thing to be.”
Some survivors will spend today, National Cancer Survivors Day, relishing that "wonderful thing" and celebrating an existence that doesn't involve “being a patient.” Some will spend it in quiet reflection. And some will simply be too busy living their lives to pay any attention at all.
All are fitting. The organization behind National Cancer Survivors Day describes the day as “a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community. Participants unite in a symbolic event to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful, productive and even inspiring.”
With almost 14 million cancer survivors in the U.S., there’s much inspiration to be had.
But not enough.
Even as we celebrate those who have survived cancer, experts at City of Hope and elsewhere are working to increase their numbers. Almost two dozen City of Hope physicians are now at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists reviewing research, asking questions, trying to figure out how to save more lives – that is, create more survivors.
Others are doing their part as well. Country music stars will gather Saturday, June 8, in Nashville, Tenn., for a serious softball game – serious in that the goal is to raise money for City of Hope. Among the participants in the Celebrity Softball Challenge are Phil Vassar, Florida Georgia Line, Kree Harrison, Scott Hamilton, Scotty McCreery, Brett Eldredge – and Craig Campbell, whose father died of colon cancer when Craig was 11, and Chase Rice, whose father died of cancer in 2008.
Meanwhile, in San Diego and Seattle, in Philadelphia and New York, residents are joining forces to do that they can to improve treatments and care for people with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. They're doing yoga, eating cake, showing off their sports bras, riding bikes, whatever they can to raise money for the one goal we all have in common, especially today:
Creating more survivors.
The Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center will host its own Cancer Survivors Day 2013 on June 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.