On the first Sunday in June each year, on June 5 this year, the nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation rallies its forces and resources to promote National Cancer Survivors Day in the U.S. and worldwide, as it has done since 1988. The NCSD Foundation bills the holiday as a “celebration of life” where survivors — described as anyone who has a history of the disease, from the point of diagnosis through the remainder of life — gather with friends, families, and supporters to raise awareness, spread information, provide services, and honor other survivors, all to show that life after a cancer diagnosis can be full and fruitful.
History of National Cancer Survivors Day
The first celebration of National Cancer Survivors Day was held on June 5, 1988. The style of commemoration has always been that of an open network, with local municipalities, hospitals, and other groups all staging such festivities as parades and rallies, individually but concurrently. According to the NCSD website, anyone can register an event and gain the support of the wider organization. The organization offers a range of resources, including a roster of speakers — medical professionals, major and minor celebrities, authors, and more — who are available to help host events in their respective towns and cities.
NCSD celebrations have also included art exhibits, carnivals, contests, and testimonies by high-profile survivors. In 2008, the fanfare included a commencement by U.S. President George W. Bush side-by-side with the director of the National Cancer Institute.
Generally, official coverage of National Cancer Survivors Day is provided by the magazine “Coping with Cancer.” During the 2020 celebration, as the magazine reported, many events were canceled or changed to online-only or socially distanced versions, but the day still included a drive-through ‘red carpet’ celebration in Louisville, Kentucky with vehicles all decked out in pink and red; pink corsets and plumage donned in a parade by the New Orleans Pussyfooters in that city; a virtual Ribbon Walk in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and many more unique instances of coming together in solidarity with survivors.
The process for registering your own NCSD event is easy and streamlined on their web page, ncsd.org, so this coming June, why not join the ranks of survivors and allies in your hometown, in connection with the wider event? Make it a fun and meaningful day.
National Cancer Survivors Day timeline
The first regular issue of “Coping” magazine is published, representing a united front and rallying point for survivors everywhere.
At the second conference meeting of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Merril Hastings announces the first NCSD celebration for the following year.
The Caribbean nation Antigua and Barbuda first includes a walk and run as part of their NCSD celebrations.
Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announces the launch of the Cancer Can Give movement, based on the idea that cancer survivors can certainly make major contributions to society, entertainment, science, education, and technology.
National Cancer Survivors Day FAQs
Who are some celebrities who have beaten cancer?
It’s a long and illustrious list, including names like Robert De Niro, Fran Drescher, and Olivia Newton-John, among many others.
Who counts as a cancer ‘survivor’?
For the NCSD Foundation’s purposes, a survivor is any individual who has a history with the disease, from first diagnosis to all stops along the remainder of their life.
I’d like to keep in touch by subscribing to “Coping” magazine. How much is a subscription?
You’ll be pleased to know that “Coping” offers free subscriptions to both their print edition and e-newsletter, at copingmag.com.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY
Attend an event
Chances are, on National Cancer Survivors Day, there will be one or more themed events in or near your town. Go out and show your support!
Register and host an event of your own design
Especially if you’re honoring a friend or family member that has been diagnosed in their life, creating a brand-new event is a very honorable way of celebrating this important day.
Spread the word on social media
It’s always a good idea to raise awareness online. Perhaps search for an in-depth article and share it with the hashtag, #NationalCancerSurvivorsDay.
FIVE AMAZING FACTS ABOUT CHEMOTHERAPY
For some chemotherapy patients, the treatment isn’t as overwhelming as you may think, and it may be possible to maintain a lighter work schedule through your chemo.
Variety is the name of the game
Not all chemotherapy is intravenous; some types are administered via skin cream or pill.
A long and winding road
Chemo patients must be prepared for one thing that doesn’t seem fair: some side effects — heart and lung problems, nerve damage, and others — can show up months or years after the original treatment.
… but maybe not so bumpy
Side effects like hair loss, fatigue, and others vary widely among patients, with some survivors experiencing few or no side effects at all.
Too much of a good thing
Beware if you’ve been on a regimen of vitamin supplements like A, C, and E, since high doses of those and others can interfere with chemotherapy.
WHY NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY IS IMPORTANT
It affects so many
In the U.S. alone, there are over 16 million cancer survivors. One or more of them may be people who are close to you, or you may be a survivor yourself. Today is for making survivors feel loved and important, as they are.
It’s a step toward beating cancer altogether
Some medical professionals will use the word ‘cured’ interchangeably with ‘in remission,’ but there is still no true cure for cancer itself. However, the more attention the disease is given — as with NCSD celebrations every June — the closer we’ll get to a viable, across-the-board cure.
It’s a fun day despite the serious reason behind it
When all is said and done, who doesn’t like a parade or a festival, or even — as in the year 2020 — a Zoom call? Smiling faces will always be good therapy for those suffering from illness.
National Cancer Survivors Day dates