Survivorship

Giving Back

As a cancer survivor, you’re in a unique position to affect other people’s lives in a positive way. Whether or not you realize it, you’ve collected a wealth of information and knowledge throughout your cancer experience that can now be used to help others.

Types of Volunteering

A wide variety of opportunities to give back exist. If you feel up to it, select one or a few and get involved. Assisting others as they address similar situations to those you experienced will make you feel better and could assist you in your survivorship planning.

Advocacy

If you feel strongly about a specific cause, such as cancer research funding or health care access, you can join and/or develop a local or national effort to effect change. Advocacy is all about raising awareness and changing opinions.

Communication

If you’re open to sharing your experiences and listening to others’ concerns, consider signing up to be a phone or email cancer hotline counselor. Volunteering to lead an in-person or online cancer support group is another option.

Education

Cancer and its treatment are foreign concepts to many people, so teaching others about the ins and outs of the disease and the health care world is a huge service. You can teach sessions at a medical facility, community center and/or place of business about a whole host of topics, including specific types of cancer, legal services, health insurance, caregiving, necessary items (wigs and lotions) and much more. Your knowledge will be greatly appreciated.

Fundraising

As you well know, cancer treatment can quickly get expensive for individuals, and many cancer-related organizations depend on funding to support their goals. To help, you can organize and/or volunteer at fundraising events, such as races, tournaments, auction events, dinners and more.

No matter how you choose to give back, doing so will not only benefit others, it will also help you meet new people, feel accomplished and continue to heal yourself from the inside out.

How To Find Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities for survivors are all around — you just have to know where to look. Start by asking your family members, friends and others in your community network whether they know of an individual or organization that could benefit from your help. Or refer to the list of resources available here. You can also browse your local newspapers and the community bulletin boards at your supermarket, library or church for volunteer listings. Other opportunities can be found by calling hospitals, cancer centers, advocacy groups and organizations that spark your interest. Ask about their volunteer programs and find out how you can get involved.

Sharing Your Story

Sometimes giving back can be as simple as sharing your personal experience with cancer. A survivor once said, "As survivors, none of us fight alone." Many patients depend on the survivor community to educate, support and engage them before, during and after treatment. Reach out to your advocacy group of choice to find out if you can share your story with others.

 

National Cancer Survivors Day Spotlight

Each year on the first Sunday in June, survivorship takes center stage as cancer survivors, their friends and family members, and medical professionals around the U.S. celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day. The goal of this inspirational day, themed “A Celebration of Life,” is to increase awareness about the ongoing challenges of cancer survivorship. It’s a chance for everyone who has cancer in their lives to observe the milestones they’ve reached and recognize those who have supported them.

According to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, more than 15.5 million people today are cancer survivors, due in part to advances in cancer prevention, screenings and early detection, and follow-up care. By bringing attention to these positive strides, the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation hopes to also bring to light the many stumbling blocks that survivors face during and after treatment, such as physical, emotional and economic challenges.

This idea for a survivor rally originally came from Richard and Annette Bloch. The Blochs wanted to bring cancer survivors together to build hope among those facing the disease. The media coverage, before and after the rally, was designed to demonstrate to a much broader audience that a cancer diagnosis isn’t synonymous with death.

The R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation held the first rally in Kansas City in 1986. Other sponsors soon came aboard and, in 1994, the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation was formed to equally and fairly assist all cancer-related organizations holding a National Cancer Survivors Day event.

Since then, national and local events have helped promote the need for more resources, research and survivor-friendly legislation to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. The celebrations typically include guest speakers offering inspiration, advice and updates, along with a variety of merchandise, such as t-shirts, balloons and banners, to help attendees get into the spirit.

If your community doesn’t host a National Cancer Survivors Day celebration, you can take advantage of the leadership opportunity and organize one. The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation will help you get started. And, don’t worry if you miss this year’s celebration. There are plenty of opportunities year round to promote this worthy cause. Learn how to get involved and find more cancer survivorship resources at www.ncsd.org.

 

 

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