The fight against cancer is one that is constant and often devastating, so it's important to recognize those who have personally experienced this terrible disease. The celebration to honor these fighters is held nationally June 7, which is National Cancer Survivors Day. For those that haven't been personally touched by cancer, it's natural to wonder the meaning behind this special day.

What Does it Mean to be a Cancer Survivor?

Being a cancer survivor is a sign of endurance, an indication that living after a cancer diagnosis is not only possible, but a realistic goal. The diagnosis of cancer, and subsequent treatment, can cause severe lifestyle changes. But the importance of going through these changes is what makes being a cancer survivor celebration-worthy. Someone who is confronted with the necessity of fighting for their life — when it is suddenly threatened — is a survivor, and these tremendous circumstances are the reason to celebrate those who may face tremendous pain.

Who is a Cancer Survivor?

The term "cancer survivor" has been hard to define. With the increasing effectiveness of treatment, over 12 million people in the United States can be considered cancer survivors. While the term "cancer survivor" might mean different things for different people, these three criteria given by Macmillan Cancer Support are widely accepted.

  • Someone who has completed initial cancer management and has no current signs of the disease.
  • Someone who is living with the progressive disease and is in treatment, but is not at the terminal stage.
  • Someone who has had cancer in the past.

Why Should Cancer Survivors Be Celebrated?

Being a cancer survivor isn't simply fighting the disease. The effects of cancer go well beyond its physical toll. Cancer has a psychological and financial impact as well.

On the psychological side, cancer survivors are prone to feelings of guilt due to surviving when others have not, in addition to ongoing stress and worry about whether cancer symptoms will come back. Financially, a lot of cancer survivors have problems getting back into the workforce. Mounting medical bills, reduced wages, reduced productivity, and issues with health providers can also reduce the quality of life for cancer survivors.

These aforementioned issues are why National Cancer Survivors Day is important. Not only is this day a celebration of life, but it is also a day of education and support. National Cancer Survivors Day doesn't only give cancer survivors the recognition they deserve, but it also provides avenues of support which will help them take that next step in their life to continue their journey.