National Cancer Survivors Day: A Celebration of Life

For many cancer survivors, every day is a celebration of life, but the first Sunday in June marks a worldwide celebration: National Cancer Survivors Day®.

The annual event held by the nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation is a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families, and an outreach to the community.

The event is not just for cancer patients or survivors, but is an all inclusive day to also recognize and honor friends, family members and medical professionals who have supported them along the way.

The good news is, the amount of people surviving cancer is on the rise! According to a study published at the beginning of 2016, the cancer death rate for men and women combined fell 23 percent from its peak in 1991 to 2012.

Dr. Anwar Khurshid, a Texas Health Physicians Group oncologist at the Arlington Cancer Center and on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital attributes the decline to education and prevention.

“Fewer people are being diagnosed with the four most common cancers — breast, lung, colorectal and prostate — due to education and prevention,” Khurshid said. “We also have better screening methods for earlier cancer detection and better treatments.”

Khurshid added that as people are becoming more aware of how certain drinks, foods or habits can increase their chance of getting cancer, they are choosing to stop or decrease their involvement with those things, and as a result living healthier lives.

Education and prevention also leads to more and more screenings, which can be vital in catching a problem early.

“Early detection is key to cancer survival. More adults are getting recommended screenings, including Pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies,” Khurshid said. “We have a greater chance of curing cancer through surgery to remove the tumor when cancer is detected early.”

It was an accidental early detection that saved Yvonne Coble’s life.

After having a heart attack, Coble received a routine chest scan. That’s when doctors noticed a small lump and performed a biopsy. Two weeks later, she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

“Everyone takes the news differently,” said Dr. Kory Jones, medical director of the breast program at Texas Health Arlington, “but Yvonne looked at it like, ‘I survived a heart attack, so what do I need to do to survive cancer?’ She credited her cardiac episodes for saving her life.”

Yvonne Coble

Yvonne Coble

Coble not only worked toward educating herself about her diagnosis, but her family and community as well.

“When people hear cancer, they are quick to put you in the grave, because they don’t understand,” she said. “I told my story through testimonies at my church. I used to hide my scars, but then I realized I’m going through this for a reason. My situation can possibly help somebody else.”

If you would like to learn more about the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, get involved in an event or even host your own, visit their webpage for information on how to get started. To learn how Texas Health Resources is getting involved this year, visit the THR event page or call 1-877-THR-WELL.

How do you honor friends or family who have survived cancer? How do you celebrate life? Sound off in the comments, or on social media using the hashtag #AYAWBcelebratelife!

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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