National Cancer Survivors’ Day: It’s a Good Thing!
(Post last updated on May 30, 2014)
At first, the concept of National Cancer Survivors’ Day® struck me as kind of bogus.
Held each year on the first Sunday in June, this day “is a symbolic event to demonstrate that life after a cancer diagnosis can be a reality.”
Yeah, well DUH, no kidding. Life goes on, and we perforce go with it – sometimes trudging, sometimes skipping, but always moving forward.
So what, we have a day in our honor because we managed to avoid cancer’s cold clutches? That somehow, through dint of skillful treatment, the ability to suffer, and good fortune, we’re still around to raise a glass (or at least a cup of coffee) on this day honoring us? It feels like cheering for the survivor of a car wreck: “Hooray, you should have died but you didn’t!” What’s up with that?
Then I figured, well, it’s a good way to see some old friends. Get in contact with that woman you gossiped with for 30 weekdays straight, sitting in the radiation waiting room. Find the gal who had her mastectomy and implant the same week you did, who lay in the next bed, a mirror of your own suffering; maybe get together to compare your x-years-out results. Or find the handful of women who took part in that same clinical trial studying chemo-brain, and see if they’re still as addled as you feel.
Or maybe Survivors’ Day is mostly about non-survivors – not those who had cancer and didn’t make it, but those who’ve never had that nasty diagnosis. “If we set cancer survivors apart, kinda group ’em together and isolate them, maybe we can keep all that bad karma in one spot. Let’s cheer for them – from afar. Let’s celebrate the fact that someone had to draw the short straw, and it’s them, not us. YEAH! Thanks for being the fall guys; you took the hit for the rest of us.”
Which is actually a good thing to celebrate, to say thank-you for. It’s hidden in the dark corners, but I’m sure it’s a fact: in every person who hasn’t had cancer, there’s that little bit of “WHEW, thank God it wasn’t me.” Which, logic dictates, translates to “Thank God it was THEM, not ME.” Hey, it’s OK; we all felt that way, once upon a time. We accept your thanks, graciously.
OK, enough with the cynicism. When I got down off my high horse and actually dug into the details, NCSD is a worthwhile event: it raises money to address the “poorly understood needs” of the cancer survivor population, which due to medical advances is growing by leaps and bounds each year.
As its Web site notes, "The nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation provides free guidance, education, and networking to hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and other cancer-related organizations that host NCSD events in their communities. Through National Cancer Survivors Day, the Foundation works to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors by educating the public on the issues of survivorship.”
Money will be raised Sunday through donations, and the sale of NCSD merchandise. As usual, it comes down to money – and I’m not being cynical again, truly. Money makes the world go around, in certain respects, and scientific research is one of them.
Research takes time and people; time is money, and people need to be paid. So if your community is one of the hnudreds nationwide celebrating this Sunday, go take a look. You might find something you just can’t live without. Or you might find an old friend.
At the least, you might have the opportunity – yet again – to say thanks to one of those doctors or nurses who helped save your life. And that, after all, is the essence of survivorship: the time and ability to be thankful for your life.