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Celebrate Being a Cancer Survivor

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I'm a survivor.

Collage.jpgThat's a bold statement to make when I'm just a little more than two years out from brain surgery. But according to the American Cancer Society, you and your caregivers are survivors from the day of your diagnosis. So, I'll take that definition and celebrate.

I hope that all survivors will join me as MD Anderson observes National Survivorship Day with an entire week of events and activities, June 4-10. This is held in conjunction with National Cancer Survivors Day, which occurs annually on the first Sunday in June in hundreds of communities worldwide to celebrate survivors and their caregivers.  

A week's worth of activities
The celebration kicks off with a police-escorted Ride for Life on Saturday, June 4. Sponsored by Riders for the Cure, this event supports Anderson Network's annual September Survivorship Conference for patients and caregivers.

When you visit MD Anderson June 6-10, you'll be aware that something special is going on. Large, brightly-colored balloon sculptures will be scattered around the hospital and clinic buildings, and pins to commemorate the week will be given to all survivors and caregivers.

From activities such as origami, collage and balloon twisting to special seminars on using makeup to make a difference, weight changes after cancer treatment, and learning that caregivers are survivors, too, the week is chock full of fun and entertainment.

You can try pilates, NIA dance play, two kinds of yoga and Kundalini meditation -- and then schedule a massage to just relax.

Stop by for a scarf-tying demonstration, learn relaxation techniques using music, and attend an expressive writing session led by one of the authors of "Chicken Soup for the Soul."

In Living the AntiCancer Life, Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., will teach about four lifestyle changes that will help you feel better and live better and, perhaps, live longer.

There are also sessions on how to thrive after cancer treatment and one on reclaiming control after facing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.

Wrap up the week with Anderson Network's Day Away excursion to see the Houston Astros play ball at Minute Maid Park.

Research advances paying off

More and more people are surviving cancer or managing their disease longer, and with a quality of life that enables them to continue making important contributions to society.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, 64% of adults diagnosed with cancer today can expect to be alive in five years. For children, survival rates range between 70% and 92%, with the 10-year survival rate at 75%.

"The advances in treatment and, indeed, the term 'cancer survivor,' are due to the incredible advances being made in cancer research," says Fran Zandstra, director of the Cancer Survivorship Program at MD Anderson.

Join me and MD Anderson's more than 200,000 cancer survivors and their caregivers in celebrating the progress in cancer treatment that makes Cancer Survivors Day -- and in our case, week -- possible.

You can find more details about the activities scheduled for Survivorship Week at MD Anderson's survivorship website, www.mdanderson.org/survivorship. Some of the events require registration.

In addition to MD Anderson's Main Building, survivorship activities are also scheduled at Mays Clinic, the Rotary House International hotel and at the institution's regional care centers.

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