National Cancer Survivors Day
June 1st is National Cancer Survivors Day. Below is a post from our CEO, Susan Braun.
Cancer survivors have been described in so many ways: victims, heroes, patients, the walking wounded, an army, thrivers to name just a few. When we’re talking about 14 million people – some who have had cancer for three minutes, some for three decades – it’s pretty hard to pick a category that fits all. When I think of cancer survivors, I think of people I know who have names and stories. I think of Mary and Jane and Waz. And I think of others who were survivors and are no longer with us, like Joani and Marilyn and Jay, who survive in my memory. Each has a very different way of surviving, of living a life through cancer and beyond. Each ascribes a unique meaning to cancer in their lives.
The V Foundation for Cancer Research has been funding innovative cancer grants for more than two decades. We fund all kinds of research, for all kinds of cancer. The grants are meticulously selected by a two-tiered system of top candidate determination and peer review. What we are seeing more and more clearly, though both successful and unsuccessful research efforts, is how much more diverse “cancer” is than we had ever imagined. There is no such thing as “you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” in cancer. Just the opposite. Just when we think we have a roadmap, ten new thoroughfares are built. Just when we find an effective roadblock, another bypass is built. Cancers are different based on their origin, the organ(s) they affect, the signals they hear, and the human being they inhabit. We used to say there are more than one hundred kinds of cancer. Now we know there are thousands. More. This makes the research complex, and makes survivorship all the more remarkable and hopeful.
We realize more than ever that cancer is personal. Cancers are more unique than we can imagine. Each person diagnosed with a cancer responds differently to the diagnosis. Each loved one takes different steps to help and support.
Personally, on National Cancer Survivorship Day, I hold dear so many people who have shaped my life and my career. I recall the reasons I got involved in cancer funding. I reflect on what it means to be an advocate for survivors individually or collectively. As a navigator through diagnosis and treatment at the outset, as a proponent of the best research, as a gentle voice suggesting hospice, as the squeaky wheel about prevention, I advocate for a good survivorship and for a day when we need no longer count survivors because cancer has gone the way of smallpox. And I advocate for recognition that each person who has survived cancer themselves, or with a loved one, is a unique individual who I vow to keep front of mind as we choose how we fulfill our mission at The V Foundation.