Cancer may strike fear into our hearts, yet its survivorship is an example of strength and perseverance. By November 2022, an estimated 18.1 million individuals in the US had proudly declared themselves cancer survivors; that represents 5.4% of our population. If you are reading this and you are one of them–congratulations! (National Cancer Institute)
But there’s more good news from that same source. Projections show an uptick of 24.4% by 2040; projecting 22.5 million survivors as an impressive number! It is estimated that by 2040, 74% of cancer survivors in the United States will be age 65 or older. This achievement speaks to the progress being made against cancer.
Among today’s cancer survivors, the most common cancer types represented in the above-referenced source include female breast cancer (22%, 4.1 million), prostate cancer (20%, 3.5 million), colorectal cancer (8%, 1.4 million), melanoma cancer(8%, 1.5 million), and gynecologic cancers (8%, 1.4 million).
Beating the Odds
Thirty-eight years ago when I faced Stage 4 melanoma, I discovered that knowledge is a powerful antidote to the fear that cancer brings. The deadly diagnosis abruptly altered my life at the age of thirty-two, prompting an immediate reevaluation of priorities. Cancer taught me many things – including the necessity of taking care of myself, setting aside pride, and focusing on staying alive.
Among other things, the journey highlighted the importance of addressing toxic overload. Exposure to various chemicals, a stressful lifestyle, and a lack of nutrition contributed to my health challenges. Recognizing the need for change, I embraced a holistic approach, reducing toxic burdens and providing nourishment.
The key to recovery, in my opinion, lies in strengthening the body’s resistance, primarily the immune system. By becoming aware of what enters the body, what goes on the body, and the surrounding environment, I successfully reduced my toxic overload. Small but significant lifestyle changes led to noticeable improvements—my body responded positively, healing itself.
The experience emphasized the role of personal choices in health. Understanding the power to reverse damage through informed decisions and lifestyle changes became a turning point. Epigenetics suggests that genes don’t solely determine destiny, emphasizing the influence of environment, diet, stress, and emotions.
In summary, overcoming cancer begins with gaining knowledge. Whether pursuing a do-it-yourself approach or working with carefully selected healthcare practitioners, fortifying your body is crucial. Eliminating toxins, embracing a cancer-fighting diet, and maintaining a positive mindset are pivotal steps. My journey, though challenging, revealed a true calling—to inspire others to take charge of their health.
Surviving Cancer: A Multi-faceted Journey
The journey of a cancer survivor extends beyond the successful treatment and that “five-year mark” that many oncologists refer to. It encompasses various dimensions of life, both during and after cancer.
Surviving the Diagnosis: Navigating the Uncharted Territory. The initial shock and fear that often accompany a cancer diagnosis can throw you into a tailspin. I know from experience the courage and strength it takes to face and navigate the treatment journey.
Life During Treatment: Surround Yourself with A Symphony of Support. Cancer treatments can take their toll, both physically and emotionally, so choosing a supportive healthcare practitioner and surrounding yourself with highly supportive friends and loved ones during this difficult time is, well, invaluable.
Transitioning to Life After Treatment: Navigating the Emotional Landscape. It’s natural to experience mixed emotions after completing your cancer treatment. You might feel relief, anxiety, and the uncertainly of what comes next.
Coping with the Aftermath: A Journey to Healing. Depending upon the treatment you received, there may be long-term side effects of the treatment itself. In addition, the emotional aftermath – including anxiety, depression, or fear of recurrence – can be overwhelming if you let them.
Thriving Beyond Cancer
As a 38-year Stage 4 melanoma cancer survivor, I can tell you that surviving cancer is not only possible, it is life-changing. As a result of my cancer journey, I redefined my priorities, my relationships, and my life goals. It’s what led me to developing The Templeton Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing you breakthrough strategies, tools, and inspiration to help you beat and prevent cancer.
Physical Well-being: Nurturing Your Body. One of the key things to remember is not to repeat the same things you were doing that led to your cancer. You’ll want to re-examine your diet, your lifestyle, and focus on those aspects that will create better health.
Embracing Emotional Health: The Heart of Survivorship. Never underestimate the value of mental health support. Seek professional help if needed.
Celebrate Your Survivorship
Being a cancer survivor is a continuous journey. It involves not only overcoming the disease, but also adapting, growing, and finding new sources of strength and purpose. Life after cancer is an opportunity for rediscovery and a celebration of resilience.
Life’s fragility and the gift of good health should never be taken for granted. The battle with cancer, while arduous, provided invaluable lessons and a renewed purpose in life. The hope is that others, too, can share success stories, proclaiming, “I used to have cancer…but I don’t anymore!”
Let Us Help You In Your Journey
Take it from me, it can be difficult to fight cancer on your own. That’s why I founded The Templeton Wellness Foundation, a non-profit entity with a vision to empower individuals in their health journeys, providing resources and support to foster holistic well-being and inspire resilient, thriving lives after overcoming health challenges.
Want to learn from a qualified healthcare expert in cancer care? Explore our Expert Interviews. It’s the next best thing to sitting face to face with many of the top cancer experts from across the world.
Need to hear from some been-there, done-that cancer survivors? Check out our Survival Stories, interviews with long-term cancer survivors, and what they did to successfully fight cancer, defy the odds, and remain cancer-free, vibrant, and healthy for life.
Remember, in the face of cancer, you’re not alone. The Templeton Wellness Foundation is here to support you on your journey, connecting you with expert insights and the inspiring stories of those who’ve triumphed over similar challenges. You have a community standing with you.
National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control & Population Sciences, “Statistics and Graphs” https://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/ocs/statistics
American Cancer Society. Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2022-2024. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2022.
Gallicchio L, Devasia TP, Tonorezos E, Mollica MA, Mariotto A. Estimation of the Number of Individuals Living With Metastatic Cancer in the United States, JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2022; djac158, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djac158