Stories from Survivors

Celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day June 6

Written By:
Jun. 03, 2021
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Written By: Cara Tompot,
June 3, 2021

Every year, on the first Sunday in June, cancer survivors gather with loved ones to celebrate their lives, raise awareness and serve as an inspiration to anyone facing a cancer diagnosis.

National Cancer Survivors Day was founded more than 30 years ago by the nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, which continues to expand its reach worldwide. The foundation offers educational resources and spearheads the outreach event, which this year falls on Sunday, June 6. 

There are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the U.S., according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute, and the cohort is growing. Survivorship numbers are expected to hit 22 million by the year 2030.

More than 3,000 cases of mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed each year in this country. While the prognosis is generally poor for this disease caused primarily by exposure to asbestos, advances in treatment continue to bring hope.

In honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com reached out to a few mesothelioma cancer survivors who have beaten the odds and serve as an inspiration to all those who follow.

What Does the Word ‘Survivor’ Mean to You Now?

The term “survivor” is broad, but to those living with the aftermath of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, its meaning can become very personal.

Tamron Little, mesothelioma survivor and Asbestos.com expert contributor
The word survivor is such a meaningful word to me. When I think of the word survivor, one word that comes to mind is ‘grateful.’ I am so grateful because everyone can’t share their story like I can today. It means that I am an overcomer, I have defeated mesothelioma. I am victorious and I can wave the white flag of victory!
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor
Emily Ward is a 7-year mesothelioma survivor
After receiving a terminal diagnosis, I have been able to lead a quality life. I have survived the disease and have added nine years to my life, which I would not have had.
Pleural mesothelioma survivor
Survivor Jim Dykstra
It allows me to not worry so much about the disease and have hope for a longer future.
Peritoneal mesothelioma survivor
Michael Bederman, mesothelioma survivor
The word survivor means I got through it. I’m OK with it. I go with the flow of life. That’s about the gist of it. I’m happy to be alive.
Pleural mesothelioma survivor

What Do You Wish People Understood About Being a Cancer Survivor?

Having survived a cancer diagnosis, patients often reflect on how it has brought new meaning to their lives.

The journey doesn’t end at any particular milestone, but continues to define them for a lifetime.

Emily Ward, pleural mesothelioma survivor
Every moment, day, month and year is a gift. Appreciate all you have, and live life as if it could end in a moment.
Emily Ward
Survivor Jim Dykstra
It’s not easy having to always have this on your mind. However, you just have to keep it at bay or the worrying will drive you crazy.
Jim Dykstra
Tamron Little, mesothelioma survivor and Asbestos.com expert contributor
One thing I wish people understood about being a cancer survivor is that even though we have endured the rigorous journey of reaching this status, we’re still placing the pieces together mentally. When you have cancer and go through various treatments and surgeries, it impacts you mentally. Not a lot of people focus on the mental aspect, but it’s just as important as the physical components.
Tamron Little
Michael Bederman, mesothelioma survivor
If you are a survivor you are grateful for every day.
Michael Bederman

How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact You as a Survivor?

The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant challenges for some cancer survivors. Many continue to face questions about how the virus could impact their health.

Emily Ward is a 7-year mesothelioma survivor
It made the reality of how fragile we are a priority, and the guidelines are to protect us all, so they should be followed out of respect for all human beings.
Emily Ward
Survivor Jim Dykstra
At first I was a little scared of contracting it, but when I actually contracted it, I was just sick with bad cold-like symptoms.
Jim Dykstra
Michael Bederman, mesothelioma survivor
During the pandemic I couldn’t go out to dinner. I could take a ride to look at the ocean from the car. The only other time I left the house was to go for therapy or to see a doctor. I could sit outside with [my companion] Lee to get fresh air. I’m grateful for having Lee to help me.
Michael Bederman
Tamron Little, mesothelioma survivor and Asbestos.com expert contributor
Wow, COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on me as a cancer survivor. First of all, I was so fearful that I would get it. Indeed, I did, and I was so distraught because the thing with COVID is that you don’t know how your body will react to it. Especially with being a cancer survivor. COVID slowed me down, and even though a year has passed, I’m just now getting back to normalcy. It was rough, but I’m still grateful that I got through cancer and survived COVID as well!
Tamron Little

Almost 40% of men and women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime, along with about 17,000 children.

Researchers, clinicians, patient advocates, caregivers and loved ones the world over are here to support those living with all types of cancer.

Join the many cancer survivors and their loved ones on June 6 by participating in National Cancer Survivors Day, and help celebrate their lives while raising awareness of the importance of cancer research.

Free Mesothelioma Guide
Get Answers to All Your Mesothelioma Questions