June 6 is National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States this year. It’s an annual celebration of life for the more than 16.9 million cancer survivors across America.
How to celebrate
Each year, celebrations of all sizes are held in communities across the nation and around the world on the first Sunday in June. Local towns, cities, hospitals and support groups usually host events like parades, carnivals, art exhibits, contests and testimonies to honor local cancer survivors.
It is a time to celebrate those who’ve survived, inspire those who’ve been recently diagnosed, support families who’ve been impacted, and reach out into the community to raise awareness. It is also a day to raise awareness about the ongoing challenges that cancer survivors face in order to promote more resources, research and survivor-friendly legislation to improve their quality of life.
Cancer survivorship challenges
Thanks to advances in prevention, early detection, treatment and aftercare, more people than ever before are surviving the disease. While surviving cancer is certainly something to celebrate, it can leave behind its own set of unique challenges. Physical, emotional and financial hardships can continue for many years after treatment ends, including:
- Limited access to cancer specialists and promising new treatments
- Denial of health insurance and life insurance coverage
- Difficulty finding jobs
- Economic burdens due to mounting medical expenses, lost wages and reduced productivity
- Emotional struggles like strains on personal relationships and the profound fear of a cancer relapse
How to support a cancer survivor
Aftercare can be one of the most challenging times for cancer survivors because they feel different than they did before cancer. They need to adjust to their “new normal” where they aren’t visiting a doctor’s office or hospital on a regular basis. They may feel anxious about their future and have physical limitations as a result of treatment. Here are some ways you can show support:
- Show up
Perhaps one of the best things you can do for your loved one is just show up and take care of things like laundry, dishes, shopping or cleaning. Many people will decline assistance when asked, so let them know how you plan to help them through the next phase of their recovery
- Be a good listener
It’s human nature to want to fix things and make your loved one feel better, but sometimes they may just want to be heard. Lend an ear and let them know you want to hear how they’re doing.
- Understand long-term side effects
It can be tempting to try to get back to normal, but it’s crucial to follow their lead. It’s important for survivors to pace themselves and only plan a reasonable amount of daily activity based on where they are in recovery.
Pomona Valley Health Centers has a team of family medicine doctors ready to help you and your loved ones. We provide routine exams, prevention screening and treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries in infants, children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Call 909-378-9173 to schedule an appointment.