This weekend, I’m planning to celebrate something I share with nearly 14 million Americans: we’re cancer survivors.
Sunday, June 2, is National Cancer Survivors Day. It was started 26 years ago as a way to recognize and support people living with cancer. The foundation that organizes the yearly event defines survivor as “anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.”
When it comes to survivorship, I’m very lucky. I was diagnosed with cancer in 1978, and again in 1993. The diagnoses, treatments, and aftermaths are something of a blur, though I vividly recall the fear I felt and the support I received. Not long after my second go-round with cancer, I got married and was soon blessed with children. Today I feel like an average middle-aged guy—though the dark shadow of cancer lurks in the back of my mind, and occasionally generates a flicker of fear that the crab could appear again.
Observing the day
National Cancer Survivors Day offers survivors and their family members and friends a chance to acknowledge the hard work that goes into fighting cancer and to show the world that survivors can live fulfilling lives.
The day is observed in many different ways. Around the U.S. and in 18 other countries, community groups, hospitals, and other organizations hold breakfasts, picnics, walks, fun runs, and other activities.
I’m not much of a joiner. Instead, I’ll take some time to reflect on my past and my present, and how living with cancer has shaped my life. I’ll also pray for all those whose lives have been cut short by cancer, and for the family members and friends who miss them.