Feeling Hopeful on National Cancer Survivors Day

Health & Wellness

The first Sunday of June has been designated as National Cancer Survivors Day to honor anyone living with a diagnosis of cancer since 1987. Throughout the world, many communities have celebrations to recognize those who have survived cancer and inspire those who are newly diagnosed with cancer.

Today, there are close to 17 million cancer survivors in the United States according to National Cancer Institute statistics. A cancer survivor is defined as anyone who is currently living with a cancer diagnosis or has a history of cancer.

Reflecting as a Cancer Survivor and Counselor

As a child growing up in the 1970s I recall hearing my relatives refer to cancer as “the Big C” or whispering the word “cancer” because it was too scary or taboo to say it out loud.  

At that time, many people with cancer were diagnosed at later stages of their disease. Cancer treatment options were limited and very difficult to tolerate because of challenging treatment side effects. Sadly, cancer survival rates were not great then. 

As a mental health professional who has worked for the last 30 years with oncology patients and their families, I have seen many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. 

Over the last 10 years, I have worked with mesothelioma patients and caregivers as a support group facilitator with the Mesothelioma Center. Throughout my work with the Mesothelioma Center, I have watched several treatment options for mesothelioma move from the clinical trial phase to become standard of care treatment options. 

Personally, I am grateful to be one of the 17 million cancer survivors and regularly reflect on my gratitude as a survivor. 

Focusing on Hope for Mesothelioma Patients

With emerging treatment options and better quality of life, mesothelioma patients and their loved ones have good reasons to feel optimistic and hopeful about their future. Mesothelioma is still an incurable cancer, but more and more mesothelioma patients are outliving their prognoses and having better quality of life while they are living with mesothelioma.

Finding reasons to be hopeful can be a challenge to those with mesothelioma. Many newly diagnosed mesothelioma patients feel quite hopeless when they research their disease on the internet and see the statistics on survival. Focusing on the future of mesothelioma care is a great way to feel more positively. 

Immunotherapy treatments, for example, are now being regularly offered to mesothelioma patients with positive results.. Targeted therapy is a newer treatment modality that disrupts the mesotheliomas genetic makeup, protein structure or the cellular environment where mesothelioma grows. 

In general, these newer treatment options produce fewer unwanted side effects, which allow mesothelioma patients to have a better quality of life. 

Because of the advances in treating mesothelioma and all types of cancer, we have more and more cancer survivors each year. This National Cancer Survivors Day is an opportunity to celebrate cancer survival and meet other cancer survivors in your community. 

Some cancer treatment centers and cancer support organizations host celebrations and fun activities for their cancer survivors. Ask at your mesothelioma treatment center if they are aware of any celebrations in your community.

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