Kenneth L Abbott, MD, FACP  |  5/31/2022

National Cancer Survivors Day Is June Fifth

Music can define an era. To this day, swing and the big band sound evoke the 1940s. Groups such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones led the British Invasion of the 1960s. For better or worse, the music of the later 1970s was disco. Huge hair, outlandish clothes, platform shoes, sequined mirror balls, huge gold medallions—the subject of many jokes and parodies. But some of the music has lived on. One such song was a 1978 hit by Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive.” Belting out defiance against an unfaithful lover, she sang:

I will survive.
Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I'll stay alive.
I've got all my life to live
And I've got all my love to give and I'll survive!

With a few tweaks to the lyrics, this song could become the anthem of cancer patients everywhere, for from the moment you receive a cancer diagnosis you are a survivor. Cancer may trouble you, it may threaten you, it may try to steal from you, but so long as you live your life and celebrate the gift of each new day you are a survivor. More people than ever before have had cancer and lived to tell the tale. More people are living longer and increasingly productive lives. Although we still have much left to do to defeat this disease, we should recognize and revel in the tremendous gains we have realized.

For more than three decades, the first Sunday in June has been designated National Cancer Survivors Day. We make people aware of cancer not to discourage or scare them but to empower them, to seek solutions, to become proactive about health and wellness, and to encourage even more of the effort that has produced so much benefit for so many.

In Calvert County, the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life has often provided a venue for recognition of our local cancer survivors. But you don’t have to wait until October 22, the date of this year’s event. In fact, every day for a cancer survivor is an excuse to celebrate. June 5 just gives us the opportunity to do so as part of a larger and growing community.
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