Almost all of us know someone who has been touched by cancer. The American Cancer Society recently published a new report that says there are 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. and that number is expected to grow to 20 million by 2026.
This Sunday is National Cancer Survivor’s Day. It’s a time to both recognize the courage and unwavering strength of survivors while also raising awareness to the challenges they face.
The very treatment that is saving these patients’ lives can also cause additional medical complications, some of which do not occur until years after the completion of treatment. These problems — referred to by the medical community as “late effects” — include osteoporosis, neuropathy, organ dysfunction, cognitive issues, and damage to the heart, to name a few.
“The challenge is that the treatments are always changing,” Stein said, “so as the treatments change and become more advanced, the late effects change so we’re always trying to play catch up.”
Many survivors also struggle with the psychological challenges that come from battling cancer. According to a story on HealthDay.com, “fears of cancer returning or a new cancer developing are common. Family and friends may find that many cancer survivors have “unmet psychosocial and medical needs.”
Here in Arizona, it is estimated that we will see more than 32,000 new cancer cases this year – 32, 000 new survivors. The Arizona Cancer Coalition (ACC) put together a cancer control plan that includes six key priorities:
- Develop policies,
- Prevent cancer,
- Detect cancer early,
- Elevate cancer treatment
- Galvanize quality of life/survivorship care networks, and
- Catalyze research
Let us know about any cancer survivor events in your community and feel free to share your survivor stories. We’d love to hear them as we celebrate National Cancer Survivor’s Day this weekend. Their courage and strength is an inspiration to us all…..and continues to serve as an example of what is possible as we hope to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!