Friday, June 3, 2011

Celebrating Survivors, Celebrating Life

Tomorrow, June 4, 2011, we at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center - along with several other cancer-related organizations across Birmingham - will celebrate Cancer Survivors Day. The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a "survivor" as anyone living with a history of cancer, from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life.

When I first start treating cancer patients 30 years ago, a cancer diagnosis was one of the most devastating things a patient could hear. At that time, the five-year survival rate was only 45 percent - meaning that less than half of people diagnosed with cancer would still be alive five years later.

Fortunately, advances in research and improved treatments have caused that number to steadily increase over the years. Today, the five-year survival rate across all cancers is 65 percent. Statistics have also shown that since 1991, every day approximately 350 people become cancer survivors who would have died of the disease in years prior. Of course, we are still working to raise those numbers, but this is a long way from where we once were.

Cancer Survivors Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the more than 11 million Americans who are survivors thanks to the hard work of scientists, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals across the nation. If you are a survivor, or if you're family has been touched by cancer, I invite you to come celebrate with us at the Pepper Place Saturday Market, beginning at 7 a.m. We will have live music, dancing, children's activities, cooking demonstrations, educational activities and much more.

Someone diagnosed with cancer today is much more likely to survive than die of the disease, and if that's not a reason to celebrate, I don't know what is! I hope you'll join us to Celebrate Life!

-Ed Partridge, M.D.  


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