My June family calendar is already filling with activities. We’ll sing birthday wishes, honor Father’s Day, and I’ll celebrate 33 years of marriage with my favorite fella. The month also holds another focus for our family and for many people across our country. This coming Sunday, communities throughout the United States, Canada and other countries will observe the 20th annual National Cancer Survivors Day. It’s a day to celebrate with those who are surviving cancer’s attack and moving forward with life, and to remember those who fought against this disease as long as God allowed. Cancer survivors will be honored for their strength and courage. The contributions of their families, friends and health care providers will also be recognized. A “survivor” is anyone living with a history of cancer – from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life, according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, which reports that more than 10 million Americans are cancer survivors. We don’t have to look far to find people whose lives have been touched by cancer. We call them family, friend, co-worker, neighbor, or perhaps fellow church member. Some of you need only look in the mirror. No matter who they are or where their life journey is taking them, each one is in a courageous battle as they learn to live with, through and beyond this disease. The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation reminds us that major advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment have resulted in longer survival. However, surviving cancer can leave a host of problems in its wake. Physical, emotional and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Survivors may face many challenges including access to cancer specialists and promising new treatments, denial of insurance coverage, financial hardships long after the initial diagnosis and treatment, employment problems, psychological struggles, a strain on personal relationships and the profound fear of recurrence. However, cancer survivors can live active, productive lives even though they still face many challenges. This Sunday, June 3, Dr. John E. Niederhuber, director of the National Cancer Institute, will present a message in honor of the day’s recognition, including the following comments (see his entire message at www.ncsdf.org). “On behalf of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), I congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of National Cancer Survivors Day, the world’s largest cancer survivor event. This celebration recognizes the courage and strength of America’s growing population of more than 10 million cancer survivors, as well as their loved ones and caregivers. You have shared the experience of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and are here today to celebrate life. I am pleased that advances in cancer treatment and early detection have improved survival dramatically. Survivorship research now not only describes cancer’s impact, but includes efforts to develop and test methods to prevent or reduce cancer’s side effects, with a growing emphasis on the health and follow-up of long-term cancer survivors. In addition, cancer caregiver research is testing interventions to help individuals and families deal with the physical, psychological, and financial effects of providing care. I appreciate the dedication and efforts of the National Cancer Survivors Day staff and volunteers across the nation and abroad. As you celebrate 20 years of honoring cancer survivors, you can be assured of the NCI’s commitment to addressing the challenges that lie ahead.” The Survivors Day focus sends a powerful message to survivors, their families, and to all of us: knowledge, hope and inspiration can help beat cancer. As Christians, we are called to be God’s instruments, offering love, compassion, support, encouragement, hope and faith in God’s provision. Take time, this Sunday, to honor survivors who are fighting daily to overcome this disease. If you know them personally, seek them out and express your support. Remember them in prayer. Perhaps you know their family, who also need encouragement. Light a candle in remembrance of those who are no longer with us. If you, yourself, are a cancer survivor or caregiver, take time to embrace the day that has been set aside to honor you. May you find encouragement and support from others, strength and courage from within, and comfort in the presence and provision of God, the Great Physician, in whom we find true hope. Nancy Williams, LPC, is a licensed counselor and life coach in Kingwood. Share your comments or request information at www.nancywilliams.net

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