The definition of a cancer survivor remains debated. The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) defines a cancer survivor as “An individual from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life”, and in their most recent version of their definition they include “impacted family members, friends, and caregivers”. Dr. Feuerstein (Editor of The Journal of Cancer Survivorship) proposed a working definition “From completion of primary treatment up to end-of-life”. Calls have been made to make the definition more transparent and be more respectful of persons who have lived past cancer.
Regardless of the definition you relate to, there is some good news! Medical advancements in cancer detection and treatment have made huge advancements in the last few decades, as described in the Pulitzer Prize winning book and documentary “Emperor of all Maladies”. These medical advancements have resulted in improved cancer outcomes and an ongoing increase in the number and longevity of many persons with a history of cancer. Cancer researchers around the globe continue to work hard to allow ongoing improvements in cancer care and project positive outcomes (within the next ten years), as well as improving the quality of cancer survivorship care. That means you can worry less and focus more on the things and people that are important and meaningful to you!
So what does this mean for you? For starters, seek and develop a good relationship with a primary care physician that you feel comfortable with and that will be your companion and advisor as you make the journey towards optimum health.
Lets get the conversation started! What is your definition of a cancer survivor?