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Cancer Survivors’ Day, A Celebration Of Life

Written By Joedene

The 5th June is Cancer Survivors Day and at Cancercare, we are choosing to acknowledge those who have bravely walked this road. We want to uplift those who are beginning the journey and those who are going through the motions presently. We hope that some of our survivors’ stories will inspire and motivate. To put it bluntly, being diagnosed with cancer should not be considered a death sentence. It is alarming to see the vast contrast in survival between cancer types. However, the significant impact early diagnosis has on survival chances, regardless of cancer type, is clear. Early diagnosis is key to increasing survival. It is vital that everyone is educated on the early, and often vague, signs and symptoms of cancer so that people present early to their GP.

The shock of being told you have cancer cannot be overestimated.  Caron Majewski, Oncology social worker at Cancercare’s Cape Gate oncology unit, says that 

In addition to the shock of being diagnosed with cancer, people are often concerned about how to tell their children, how they will be able to perform at work, how their treatment will impact daily life, and how they will deal with a loss of control over their bodies and their appearance. In addition to the cutting edge therapies offered by Cancercare, counselling is key. 

“Without counselling and support, patients may feel isolated and alone. Often, we will find that newly-diagnosed patients have searched the internet for information and come up with misinformation that causes even more anxiety. We help them understand their diagnosis and prognosis, prepare them to understand what to expect from treatment, and offer ongoing emotional and psychological support and information that will link them to relevant community resources as is needed .”

Every Cancer survivors story is unique. One of our patients Suzette Tanner describes her experience, after being told that she has Lung Cancer, and the notion that it was at an advanced stage.

”I was really frightened and devastated by the thoughts of death, worrying about my family, and loved ones and found myself crying for a few days until I realised that I could not and would not let this ‘thing’ as I then called it get the better of me. My fight then began. To assist me in my fight I had a wonderful support structure from my loved ones as well as the Nursing Staff of the Chemo and Radiation departments which motivated me and strengthened me in my fight. They were my earthly Angels in white coats. After completing my treatment, I had to rest (take a break) for a month before I had to go for a Pet Scan to determine what the result of the treatment was. This was done in February 2007 and a day after my scan my Oncologist phoned me to tell me that the results were incredible. The tumour had disappeared. To be told that you have Cancer will always have different reactions from person to person, but I have learned that no matter what it is normal to go through all the emotions but to stand up, fight it and remain positive and grateful for every new day.”

In November 2019, Beverley Ann Dolley was told that she has breast cancer. A month later, she took part in a ballroom dancing competition with her husband. When she started losing her hair, she asked her hairstylist to cut it all off and be seen without a scarf. She wasn’t about to give in to fear or the disease.  She says,

 “I refuse to say the word cancer in hushed tones.You need to be braver than brave to fight it, and I’m not going to let it get the better of me. Cancercare became a second home for me during my treatment. The compassion, love and care I’ve experienced from the nursing staff throughout my treatment has been incredible. So much so that I call them my Miracle Collection. They are strangers who have become family, demonstrating extraordinary humanity during a very different period in my life.”


How can we observe Cancer Survivors Day? Simply talking about cancer is very important. We can help all those impacted by the disease feel better through discussions, whether its relatives, friends or someone else. Perhaps you’d like to post on social media using the hashtag #CancerSurvivors. Share your stories which could be a courageous inspiration to all of us to tackle the problems of cancer. Explore more about the different kinds of cancer and its respective therapies, and share and discuss with others.

Remember. Cancer Survivors’ Day is a celebration of life.