National Cancer Survivors Day, June 7th
Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H., Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office
National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual, worldwide celebration of life that is held in hundreds of communities throughout the United States, Canada, and other participating countries. National Cancer Survivors Day is a day to honor cancer survivors for their strength and courage and recognize the contributions of families, friends, and healthcare providers.
The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a survivor as anyone living with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life. An estimated 11.1 million Americans are living with a cancer diagnosis, and many are American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Do you know a survivor? If you do, then you are probably aware that survivors can live a fulfilling life after diagnosis and treatment, but they also face a host of problems. Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Survivors may face many challenges including access to cancer specialists and promising new treatments, denial of health and life insurance coverage, financial hardships long after the initial diagnosis and treatment, employment problems, psychological struggles and the strain on personal relationships and the profound fear of recurrence.
If you are a survivor, you should know there are resources available for you. These include both resources designed for all cancer survivors and resources designed specifically to meet the needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Here are a few websites to check:
- http://www.livestrong.org/site/c.khLXK1PxHmF/b.2660611/k.BCED/Home.htm - website of The LIVESTRONG
"SurvivorCare program of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which provides help addressing financial and insurance concerns, counseling and referrals to local resources, and matching to clinical trials.
- http://www.natamcancer.org/ - website of Native American Cancer Research (NACR) , an American Indian -based organization with a mission to reduce cancer incidence and increase survival among Native Americans; the site provides information for survivors, including spirituality, traditional healing, clinical trials, side effects, and telephone numbers to network with other survivors.
- http://www.oncs.org/homepage.html - website of the Office of Native Cancer Survivorship, which works as a liaison between providers and patients, to improve care and access to cancer support services that are often over looked.
If you are a survivor, do you realize that you are also a resource for others? Cancer survivors in native communities can be invaluable resources to educate others about the importance of screening to prevent or to detect cancers early, to raise cancer awareness, and most importantly to prove that cancer is not always fatal.