A New Focus On Cancer Survivorship: An Eye On Science And An Eye On Care

Cancer survivors are all a tweet about A Report: Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2012-2013 released yesterday at the kickoff of the 6th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference. There’s a great deal of excitement wrapped around the release of these new stats: the population of cancer survivors in the US has grown from 12 million to over 13 million, and researchers expect there will be 18 million survivors alive in 2020.

I was elated when I read the report and my inclination was to share it with as many cancer survivors as possible. To me, the report and the forum in which it was presented mark the beginning of a new day for survivors. A day that’s been a long time coming. After years of hard work by National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship, the American Cancer Society, LIVESTRONG®, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in great measure thanks to them, cancer survivorship is on the brink of becoming a mainstream issue in American healthcare.

Yes, more of us survive after treatment. But, cancer survivorship is a conglomeration of many complicated issues. Cancer raids not only our bodies, but literally every other area of our lives. We are left with physical damage and a laundry list of other impairments to our emotional well-being and to our ability to function in society.

Yesterday, while as an advocate I was cheering at the progress of the “cancer survivorship movement,” I was also receiving calls and e-mails from survivors who didn’t share my joy. My conversations with them were a sobering reminder that many, many survivors can hardly move through life. Period. They are at the end of their rope physically, emotionally, financially. They are hanging on by a thread.

Their plight demands that as a society we pay attention to the topic of cancer survivorship. While we applaud the fact that the scientific community is everyday finding new answers to improve the quality of life after cancer, at the grassroots level there is much to do. If nothing other than to educate survivors about available resources and guide them in the right direction, we can do that. While I may have a plan for my own survivorship, I can’t forget that the vast majority of survivors still do not know where to turn for help. In a very up close and personal way, I was prompted yesterday to remain attuned to the human face of cancer survivorship that stares at all of us every day.

“Translating Science to Care.” That’s not just some clever moniker a creative team labeled the biennial conference. It’s the succinct and on-point elevator pitch that describes where we are today and need to remain in cancer survivorship…with one eye on science and the other on the continued care of those who can’t wait until a next biennial session.

Category: Cancer

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