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National Cancer Survivors Day® & Why I’m Just Not that Into It

In case you didn’t know or remember, the first Sunday in June is officially designated as National Cancer Survivors Day®, so I’m sharing some thoughts about it again this year. For various reasons, I’m just not that into it and I’ll try to explain why in this post. On their official website it says the following: 

National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual, treasured Celebration of Life that is held in hundreds of communities nationwide, and around the world, on the first Sunday in June. It is a CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community. On National Cancer Survivors Day®, thousands gather across the globe to honor cancer survivors and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and even inspiring.

When I visited the website this year, I couldn’t help but notice there had been a small change made to the mission (it’s not stated that the above is the mission, I’m just referring to it as that here). And a treasured celebration of life? That’s a bit of an over-statement don’t you think? Treasured by whom?

As I shared in my post last year on this topic, the words on their website at that time said this:

“…It (life) may not be the same as before cancer, but it can be beautiful, rewarding and sometimes even better than before…”

Notice the changes? See the highlighted (my doing) in the last sentence in this year’s mission statement above.

Without a doubt, the revised highlighted (again by me) wording is much better, but still, I am just not that into this celebratory day’s designation.

Why not? 

Last year I wrote about why I can’t fully get behind this day, so again, you can read that post here if you want to. And of course, just because I am not that into it (NCSD), this doesn’t mean others can’t be. If fact, if you do embrace this particular celebration, I’d love to hear from you.

I do commend the support part and the outreach part, so I guess you could say this means I am half-way in. Sort of. I searched the website for some specifics about dollars (there’s lots of merchandise to buy) and what is done with those dollars, but didn’t find a clear explanation.

The whole idea of designating such a day feels too celebratory for my liking. And perhaps even a little patronizing too.


To me it sort of feels like getting a pat on the head for something I did not earn. I did as I was told. I survived and continue to survive not so much because of anything I did or do, but rather because I’ve followed a recommended course of action and because so far I’m lucky to still be NED (no evidence of disease).

Of course, this does not mean I am not grateful to be around, to be surviving. I am indeed grateful for this and many other things.

And by the way, why does it seem that when we choose not to conform to “accepted how to do cancer (including survivorship) etiquette”, it is often perceived that we are ungrateful?

Mostly, this day is troubling to me simply because it feels too celebratory for my liking. Just a little over a week ago yet another wonderful friend learned she has liver, brain, lung and bone mets.

What about her?

I bet she’s not feeling like celebrating right about now.

What about all those who have died?

Where’s their day?

I think there’s danger in making it sound as if we have successfully triumphed over cancer because we have not.

I have no idea how much money is donated for the patient support and community outreach part of what NCSD stand for. Kudos to whomever for any and all of that.

But as far as me getting behind National Cancer Survivors Day® and feeling all warm and fuzzy about it…

Not gonna happen.

I am just not that into it. 

What about you?

How do you feel about National Cancer Survivors Day®?

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Betty Villegas

Sunday 4th of June 2017

Thank you for this page. I was looking for just the right quote or image to put up on my facebook page, but nothing really clicked for me. Why should I celebrate this day, stating I fought hard and I "survived", when I saw my younger sister fight twice as hard and she didn't make it. When I talk about being a survivor, a warrior, it's not just about me, it's about her too. We were both "survivors" for a while, did lots of outreach to Latina women together, talked about our BRCA mutation, but then she got it back. Now when I talk about my cancer journey, I include her journey because I am her voice.


Monday 5th of June 2017

Betty, I totally understand where you're coming from. I often talk about my mother's experience, too, because just as you feel you are your sister's voice, I feel I am my mother's. In a way we are the voices for all who do not survive this disease. This is part of the reason I can't support NCSD. Far too celebratory and too dismissive of those who truly deserve the honor and recognition - those like your sister and my mother. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you found my blog. I'm very sorry about your sister.

Elizabeth J

Saturday 4th of June 2016

Nancy, as time goes on, I get more and more uncomfortable with survivor events and celebrations. I don't even feel sure the word survivor even fits me. When a ship sinks, survivors are the ones who get in lifeboats or who are pulled out of the water, not the ones who eventually sink and drown. I am metastatic. By the grace and mercy of God, I am still here for now, but my lifeboat has holes in it, and short of a miracle, will eventually sink. I have made my peace with my condition, but will continue to fight for more time with my family, especially grandbabies, with everything from medical treatments to prayer. And for now I am doing well. But, as grateful as I am to still be alive, I do not see celebrating as a survivor as appropriate in my case.


Tuesday 7th of June 2016

Elizabeth, I'm with you.


Monday 8th of June 2015

Not up to blogging much these days, so I included this link in a blog post of my own today, too.


Tuesday 9th of June 2015

Laurie, Thank you for sharing, Laurie. Get back to blogging when you feel like it. We'll be here. And thank you for including my link in your post. Keep resting and healing.

Dorcas Nduati

Friday 5th of June 2015

To be a cancer survivor takes the hand of God. We need to love them


Saturday 6th of June 2015

Oh my, I'm not so sure your'e not so steeped in rhetoric, and 'OFF THE HOOK' WITH YOUR COMMENT, that you even a clue as to how what you've written translates for those - and their beloved ones - who know they will die very shortly, not to even mention the fact that many of them are every bit as wonderful and kind human beings, and sometimes far moreso, as those who physically survive into a ripe old age.

Shame on you, Dorcas Nduati, perhaps you should stop practising Cafeteria Religion, where you get to pick what suits only your teeny (doing fine!) physical world, yet horrifies others even further than they have already been horrified.


Friday 5th of June 2015

Nancy, I'm with you. Of course, we're grateful to be alive, but survivorship is complicated. Of course, I wrote about it too.


Monday 8th of June 2015

Eileen, It is complicated! So true. And as you know, I read and shared your post. Great food for thought there. Thank you for sharing.

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