On Sunday, June 7, 2015, tens of thousands of people around the world will gather in their local communities to observe the 28th annual National Cancer Survivors Day®. Hundreds of cities across the U.S. and abroad will hold celebrations on this day 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.
National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual worldwide Celebration of Life that is held on the first Sunday in June. It is the one day each year when everyone joins forces to recognize the cancer survivors living in our communities and raise awareness of the ongoing challenges they face. NCSD also provides an opportunity for cancer survivors to connect with other survivors, celebrate the milestones they've achieved, and acknowledge the family members, friends, and healthcare professionals who have supported them along the way.
"A 'survivor' is anyone living with a history of cancer - from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life," according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, administrator for the celebration.
"For the vast majority of survivors, cancer is no longer the automatic death sentence that it was a few decades ago," says Foundation spokesperson, Laura Shipp. "The reality is that, among U.S. adults, the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined is now approximately 68 percent. In 1987, the year that NCSD began, that number was just 56 percent.
"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."
NCSD celebrations will be as diverse as the communities where the events are being held. There will be motivational speeches, health fairs, parades, carnivals, block parties, art exhibits, awareness walks, inspirational programs, and more. Cancer survivors will share their unique stories of how surviving cancer has affected their lives. And communities will come together to stand with these survivors and make a commitment to help find ways to lessen the burdens a cancer diagnosis brings.
The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation encourages everyone to participate in their community's event. To locate the one nearest you, check with your local cancer treatment center, hospital, or American Cancer Society office, or send an email to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation at email@example.com. Or you can host an event of your own. The NCSD website, ncsd.org, has everything you need to plan an NCSD celebration.
NCSD started in the United States in 1987, and has since been celebrated worldwide in countries including Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Malaysia, according to Shipp.
The nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation provides free guidance, education, networking, resources and assistance to hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and other cancer-related organizations that host official National Cancer Survivors Day® events in their communities. The Foundation's primary mission is to bring awareness to the issues of cancer survivorship in order to better the quality of life for cancer survivors.
More Americans than ever are surviving cancer. According to the American Cancer Society's Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2014 - 2015, there are 14.5 million cancer survivors alive in the US today, and that number is expected to grow to almost 19 million by 2024. Even though cancer incidence rates are dropping, the number of cancer survivors is rising due, in part, to earlier detection and better treatments. As the number of cancer survivors continues to grow, it will be more important than ever to address the unique needs of these survivors.
Many survivors face limited access to specialists, a lack of information about promising new treatments, inadequate or no insurance, difficulty finding employment, and psychosocial struggles. Once active treatment ends, cancer survivors still must cope with the long-term effects of cancer, which can include physical side effects; psychological, social, and emotional concerns; and financial hardships.
"To say that surviving cancer is challenging would be an understatement," says Shipp. "But it is a challenge that millions of people - 14.5 million in the U.S. alone - are overcoming. National Cancer Survivors Day® is a celebration of how far we've come in extending life after cancer. However, the NCSD Foundation hopes that National Cancer Survivors Day® also serves as a call to action for more resources, research, and increased public awareness to improve quality of life after cancer."
National Cancer Survivors Day® is sponsored nationally by Astellas, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Coping with Cancer magazine, with support from Amgen, Genentech, Seattle Genetics, Takeda Oncology, and Teva Oncology.
"It's true that cancer survivors are now living much longer after diagnosis thanks to advances in modern medicine," says Shipp. "However, long-term survivorship poses its own unique challenges. And we need to do a better job of addressing the hardships cancer survivors face beyond treatment."
Leading up to the event, the NCSD Foundation urges everyone to spread the message that there is life after cancer - and that's something to celebrate - but we can still do more to lessen the burdens of cancer survivorship. The following are suggested posts for your social media sites.
On Facebook: Join millions of cancer survivors and supporters around the world as we celebrate life and raise awareness of the issues of cancer survivorship on National Cancer Survivors Day, June 7. #NCSD2015 #CelebrateLife, www.ncsd.org
On Twitter: #CelebrateLife, raise awareness for cancer survivors on National Cancer Survivors Day, June 7 #NCSD2015 @SurvivorsDay ncsd.org