National Cancer Survivors Day
The first Sunday in June, we celebrate life with National Cancer Survivors Day. Each year, there is more reason to celebrate as people survive cancer at higher and higher rates. From 1991 to 2016, deaths from cancer plummeted 27%, saving more than 2.6 million lives. As of January of this year, 5% of the US population—16.9 million people—are cancer survivors, 67% of whom have survived at least five years after their diagnosis. To continue this positive trend, it’s essential that we continue to prioritize cancer research and help to ensure that patients get access to the quality care that they need.
Coping After Cancer
While surviving a cancer diagnosis is cause for celebration, it can also have profound and lasting psychological impacts on patients as well as their loved ones. These effects can be particularly pronounced in pediatric patients, nearly 75% of whom may experience PTSD following treatment. Adult patients often report fear of recurrence that impedes their ability to enjoy or engage with life as they had in the past as well as guilt that they have survived while others have lost their battles. This means that even after cancer is eliminated, patients need tools and support to help them adjust to the new normal of cancer survivorship.
Survivors find support from a wide range of sources—friends and family, spiritual communities, support groups, therapists, and others. Remaining active and engaged in things that they enjoy, spending time with people who make them feel good, and finding ways to relax can all help patients weather the emotional storm that naturally follows a life-or-death battle. If you love someone who is in treatment or is struggling after completing treatment, check out this advice from the American Cancer Society on what you can do to help them through this challenging time.
Exercise After Cancer
Exercise is a drug-free way to fight depression and reduce fatigue as well as strengthen the body and protect against future disease. Numerous studies have indicated that cancer survivors who are physically active have a lower chance of cancer recurrence than those who are inactive. Depending on an individual patient’s condition and their doctor’s advice, exercise can be a beneficial part of cancer treatment as well as an essential aspect of post-treatment recovery. The American Cancer Society offers the following exercise recommendations for survivors:
- https://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorship-during-and-after-treatment/staying-active/physical-activity-and-the-cancer-patient.htmlReturn to normal daily activities as soon as possible (following doctor’s advice).
- Regularly engage in physical activity.
- Practice strength training at least twice per week.
- Aim to work up to exercising at least 150 minutes per week.
Joining a fitness group can be a great way to help make exercise fun while enjoying the benefits of being part of a community. The YMCA of Greater Des Moines provides Above + Beyond Cancer Optimal Living programs, including fitness and meditation classes and wellness coaching for cancer survivors.
Iowa Radiology provides state-of-the-art imaging services to aid in the detection, diagnosis, and monitoring of many types of cancer. We are honored to serve as part of a team that helps patients through this difficult time and celebrate each time a patient wins their battle against cancer.
Iowa Radiology is proud to partner with the John Stoddard Cancer Center in sponsoring annual events to celebrate and support cancer survivors. See details about this year's event here.