The first Sunday in June is a very special day for millions around the world. It’s National Cancer Survivor Day, a day where we celebrate those who have beaten cancer, those facing cancer, and the many friends and relatives who help them face the challenges that lie ahead. This year, National Cancer Survivors Day falls on June 6.

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) one out of every four people in South Africa will be impacted by cancer. It’s a terrifying prospect for many, but one of the most important messages that needs to be shared is that cancer can be beaten.

Facts about cancer

Rather than putting our heads in the sand and avoiding the subject, let’s spend this day creating awareness around cancer:

  • Firstly, our lifestyle choices are important when it comes to cancer. About one third of deaths from cancer are due to smoking tobacco, overweight, drinking alcohol, poor dietary choices and lack of exercise.
  • The second thing we need to know is that many cancers can be cured if they are found early and treated.
  • The most common cancers found in South African women are breast, cervical, colorectal, uterine and lung cancer.
  • The most common cancers found in men are prostate, lung, and colorectal
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Statistics show that one in 25 women is at risk; but breast cancer, if detected early enough, is treatable and there is a high rate of survival. This means it is important that woman examine their breasts monthly, and take immediate medical steps, through their doctor or clinic, if something is not as it should be.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with one in 16 men at risk of getting it. It’s important that men examine their testicles monthly, and find out from doctors or clinics how and when to screen for cancer. Again, it’s early detection that saves lives.

What can we do?

We can spread information about cancer, especially among members of our families – those who are scared to test, or those who think that finding they have cancer is the equivalent of a death sentence.  We can celebrate those who have survived and spread their stories. We need to say it and believe it – cancer can be beaten!