Join the National Cancer Survivors Day celebration
The Kansas City Star
Cancer is just a word, not a sentence.
I like to say that, and I say it a lot, because it lets people know they should have hope that they can be survivors.
“Just a word” - that’s a powerful, encouraging concept to someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
For many generations, being told “You have cancer” was cause for losing all hope. Treatments often were as debilitating as the disease itself. When people talked about someone fighting cancer, it was in hushed and somber tones. Even today, too many people look at the word “cancer” and see nothing but “death.”
That’s why my husband, Richard Bloch, and I held our first Celebration of Life Rally in 1985. Dick’s own successful battle with “terminal” lung cancer and the stories of others’ successes offered living proof that survival was a real, attainable possibility.
More than 12 million Americans alive today have at some point been diagnosed with cancer. How’s that for inspiration?
Our celebration idea caught on in other cities, and a tradition was born that continues this weekend. On Sunday, June 3, communities around the world will celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day.
Kansas City’s outstanding cancer community - survivors, supporters, researchers and medical care providers - will be out in force Sunday afternoon for our local observance in the Cancer Survivors Park west of the Country Club Plaza.
It’s a chance for survivors to renew friendships and congratulate each other on reaching another year. Medical and support organizations that attend celebrate successes of the past and look ahead to the advances that will lead to even more successes.
For more than 20 years, every Celebration of Life Rally I attended here in Kansas City was a time for me to celebrate my husband’s success and the successes of thousands of other survivors in this wonderful community, my home for most of my life.
Four years ago, though, my diagnosis of breast cancer gave an intensely new meaning to the tradition Dick and I created.
My cancer was detected early, and I received the prompt, proper and thorough treatment that is so important in achieving a good outcome. I’m happy to say that I am cancer-free!
The Bloch family tradition of celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day now extends to four generations: my daughter Linda is vice president of the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation, one of my granddaughters is a volunteer for our national cancer hotline, and two of my great-grandchildren have been rally regulars for longer than they can remember!
I have watched the cancer support community of greater Kansas City grow over the years, and I’ve seen the choice of treatment options and providers grow, too.
The University of Kansas Cancer Center has applied to the National Cancer Institute for designation as a comprehensive cancer center. Achieving that goal will put Kansas City on a short list of communities in the United States with the highest level of cancer care, and that will be an achievement we all can celebrate.
Annette Bloch is co-founder and president of the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation