Every year, the first Sunday in June is devoted to cancer survivors. This day allows us to celebrate and recognize those who have battled cancer and come out victorious. Cancer survivors use this day not only to be celebrated but also to come together as a community and inspire those who have been recently diagnosed with cancer to keep fighting. The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation (NCSDF) is a nonprofit organization that helps hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and cancer-related organizations in hosting events to promote Cancer Survivors Day. Additionally, the NCSDF works to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors by raising awareness of the ongoing challenges faced by those who lived through cancer.
There are currently more than 15.5 million cancer survivors in America This is not only a testament to the strength of those who fought cancer but also to the vast improvements to medicine made by doctors and scientists to fight this deadly disease. Unfortunately, a cure for cancer is still yet to be found but cancer treatments have come a long way. Today, the five most common ways of treating cancer are through surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy (radiation therapy), Hormone therapy, and Biological therapy. Even though these therapies are not free of some bad side effects, they have helped decrease the mortality rates of cancer which are on the constant decline for men, women, and children.
The first treatment of cancer came in 1882 when William Halsted performed a radical mastectomy in order to treat breast cancer. This method remained the primary treatment of breast cancer until the mid-late 20th century. Sixteen years later, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered the radioactive elements radium and polonium. Five years later, S.W. Goldberg and Efim London used the elements discovered by the Curies’ to treat two patients with basal cell carcinoma and eradicate cancer in both patients. In 1937, Sir Geoffrey Keynes discovered a way to treat breast cancer with radiation, that did not involve removing any part of the patients’ body. Hormonal therapy surfaced in 1941 when Charles Huggins used hormone manipulation to treat prostate cancer, which is still used heavily today. Twelve years later, chemotherapy made its mark by completely curing a solid human tumor for the first time ever. Chemotherapy continued to be a frequently used cancer treatment method for many years to come and still is today. Possibly the most beneficial event for cancer treatment occurred on December 23, 1971, when President Richard M. Nixon signed the National Cancer Act, which established national cancer research centers and national cancer control programs. This led to countless breakthroughs in cancer research which is why today contracting cancer is not the end of the road for people like it was in previous years.
Overall, this day should be used as one for celebration and inspiration. We need to celebrate those who have beat the cancer battle and those who have worked tirelessly to give people a fighting chance against this terrible disease. We also should show our support to those currently in battle and use survivors as their inspiration to keep fighting. This day only happens one time a year so let us as a community use this day to celebrate and inspire others!