Celebrating Your Cancerversary

Throughout a cancer experience, every milestone is a victory worth celebrating. For young adults navigating the twists and turns of diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship, the word “cancerversary” holds a special place in their hearts. We’re here to talk about cancerversaries and how you can celebrate them.


What is a Cancerversary?

A cancerversary, short for cancer anniversary, is a significant milestone for cancer survivors. A cancerversary isn’t just another day on the calendar—it’s your personal victory lap! The milestone is defined by YOU. Whether it’s the day you got the news, finished treatment, or hit a turning point, your cancerversary is all about celebrating YOU. It’s like your own special holiday, filled with triumph, resilience, and gratitude. Cancerversary means survivorship – living with, through, and beyond cancer. So why not shout it from the rooftops and embrace every moment?

I truly would rather celebrate this day than my actual birthday!” –  Meghan K.


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A post shared by Meghan Koziel (@meghankoziel)

Why Celebrating Milestones is Important

In the whirlwind of facing cancer, every step forward is a victory worth celebrating. Cancerversaries are your chance to pause, reflect, and give yourself a high-five for making it this far. They’re reminders of your strength and the amazing support cheering you on. So go ahead, take a moment to bask in your awesomeness!

How to Celebrate YOUR Day

Your cancerversary, your rules! Here are some ideas to make your day as special as you are:

  • Spend time with your loved ones: Whether it’s a virtual hangout or an in-person party, surround yourself with the people who’ve been there for you every step of the way.
  • Pamper yourself: Whether it’s a spa day, your favorite meal, or a mini getaway, indulge in whatever brings you joy and makes you feel like your best self.
  • Create new traditions: Start something special that’s uniquely YOU. Plant a tree, release sky lanterns, or try something wild and adventurous.
  • Celebrate on social: Let the world know about your cancerversary! Share a post, a photo, or a heartfelt message on your favorite social media platform. Your story could inspire others and spread hope far and wide.



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A post shared by Natasha Verma (@natasha_verma)

  • Pay it forward: Spread the love by giving back. Volunteer, share your story, or join a support group. Your experience can inspire others and make the world a brighter place. Take survivor Julian Castaneda for example. He pays it forward with Bags of Love.


How Friends & Family Can Show Support

Celebrating your loved one’s cancerversary is all about showing love, admiration, and unwavering support. Here’s how you can make their day even more epic:

  • Send love notes: A heartfelt message, a silly card, or a simple text can make their day sparkle with joy and love.
  • Plan a celebration: Organize a party, a picnic in the park, or a virtual gathering to celebrate them. Always remember to check in with your loved one to make sure they are feeling up to celebrating the day.
  • Acts of kindness: From homemade treats to warm hugs, every little gesture shows you’ve got their back.
  • Be present: Sometimes, the best gift is simply being there – listening, laughing, and holding space for all the feels. 

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Cancerversaries aren’t just milestones—they’re celebrations of life and love. So here’s to you, your resilience, and the road ahead! As you reflect on the past and embrace the future, may each cancerversary be a reminder of your indomitable spirit and the joy of living life to the fullest.

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Survivorship: Why Your Continued Support Matters

Life after cancer, often called survivorship, is a unique experience filled with challenges and rewards. It encompasses the period after cancer treatment, during which individuals may still grapple with the lingering physical, emotional, and psychological effects of the disease.


Misconceptions: The Reality of Post-Treatment

It is crucial to dispel the misconception that survivorship implies the end of the cancer experience and a seamless return to one’s pre-diagnosis life. In reality, many survivors grapple with enduring physical, emotional, and psychological repercussions long after treatment concludes. They may continue to face challenges such as fatigue, pain, and emotional distress and may need ongoing medical follow-up and support.

Adjusting to the “New Normal”

Unfortunately, resuming their previous routines and seamlessly integrating back into their everyday lives is unattainable for countless survivors. The experience can impact their lives long-term, and they may need time to adjust to their “new normal.”

Tips for Meaningful Support: How You Can Make a Difference

If you’re a friend, family member, or co-worker, here are some valuable tips to provide meaningful support to someone who has completed cancer treatment:

  1. Listen and Validate: Listen to them attentively and validate their feelings without passing judgment.
  2. Explore Resources: Help them explore available resources and support networks, such as cancer support groups, counseling services, and specialized rehabilitation programs.
  3. Encourage Follow-Up: Encourage regular follow-up appointments with their healthcare team as they navigate life after cancer.
  4. Practice Patience: Practice patience and understanding when they need time off for follow-up appointments or to manage lingering side effects.
  5. Respect Privacy: Respect their privacy and refrain from sharing information about their diagnosis or treatment without their explicit permission.
  6. Be Supportive: Remember that adjusting to life after cancer takes time, so be patient and supportive as they navigate this new phase.

Behaviors to Avoid: Promoting a Supportive Environment

Here are some certain behaviors to avoid when supporting someone who has completed cancer treatment:

  1. Avoid Assumptions: Avoid assuming that their cancer experience is over or expecting them to revert to their pre-diagnosis life effortlessly.
  2. Respect Boundaries: Refrain from pressuring them to discuss their cancer experience if they are not ready or willing.
  3. Work Consideration: Do not make assumptions about their ability to work or perform their usual duties.
  4. Equal Treatment: Treat them with the same respect and consideration as before their cancer diagnosis, avoiding any differential treatment.
  5. Maintain Confidentiality: Never disclose information about their diagnosis or treatment without obtaining their explicit consent.

Empowering Life Beyond Cancer: Providing Ongoing Support

Life after cancer presents a distinctive journey that necessitates ongoing support and empathy. It is vital to acknowledge and validate the enduring physical, emotional, and psychological effects that individuals, particularly young adults, may face post-treatment. By providing them with the necessary support and resources, we can empower them to navigate this new chapter in their lives.

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From Struggle to Strength: The Power of Resilience for Young Adults with Cancer

Resilience refers to the ability to adapt and bounce back from difficult experiences, and it is an important aspect of the adolescent and young adult cancer experience. Adolescents and young adults diagnosed with cancer may face a wide range of challenges, including physical changes, emotional distress, and disruptions to their daily lives. Resilience can help them navigate these challenges and build the skills and resources they need to cope with the residual effects of the disease.


Factors that contribute to resilience

Several factors contribute to resilience in the context of cancer. These include a positive outlook, strong social support, and access to resources and information. Additionally, having a sense of control over one’s life and being able to find meaning in the cancer experience can also contribute to resilience.

Resilience can be especially important for adolescents and young adults because they are still developing their sense of identity and independence. A cancer diagnosis can disrupt these developmental processes and make it difficult for them to navigate their new reality. Resilience can help them to maintain a sense of control over their lives, even in the face of a challenging illness.

How to increase resilience

There are several steps that can be taken to increase resilience in the context of the adolescent and young adult cancer experience. These include:

  • Building a strong support network: Surrounding oneself with a supportive group of friends, family members, and healthcare professionals can provide a sense of connection and belonging, which can help to increase resilience.
  • Finding meaning in the cancer experience: Reflecting on the cancer experience and finding meaning in it can help to make sense of the challenges and provide a sense of purpose.
  • Practicing self-care: Engaging in activities that promote physical and emotional well-being, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness, can help to increase resilience.
  • Seeking professional help: Talking to a counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional can provide a safe space to process emotions and develop coping strategies.
  • Staying informed: Staying informed about cancer, treatment options, and available resources can help to increase a sense of control and empower adolescents and young adults to make informed decisions about their care.

Resilience is a process, and it will look different for every person. It is a skill that can be learned and practiced and will take time to develop. It is crucial to have patience and understanding with oneself and the adolescents and young adults in our lives going through this process.


In conclusion, resilience is essential to the adolescent and young adult cancer experience. It can help adolescents and young adults to navigate the challenges of cancer and build the skills and resources they need to cope with the long-term effects of the disease. By building a strong support network, finding meaning in the cancer experience, practicing self-care, seeking professional help, and staying informed, we can increase our resilience and help the adolescents and young adults in our lives to do the same.

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Survivors Guilt: What Is It and Who Feels It?

Survivor’s guilt is a complex psychological phenomenon that can arise in individuals who have survived traumatic events, such as cancer. It encompasses a range of emotions, including guilt, shame, and self-blame, experienced by those who have come through a harrowing ordeal while others did not.


The Unique Challenges Faced by Cancer Survivors

Cancer survivors often find themselves grappling with survivor’s guilt in various ways. They may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for receiving treatment and ultimately surviving, while others who had the same diagnosis were not as fortunate. Moreover, they may experience guilt for moving forward with their lives while witnessing fellow patients still dealing with their illness. They may also feel guilty for being a burden on their family and children, that continues even though they have survived. These feelings of guilt can lead to a profound sense of isolation, depression, and anxiety.

The Ripple Effect: Survivor’s Guilt in Support Community Members

It’s important to recognize that survivor’s guilt is not exclusive to cancer patients. Even individuals who support cancer survivors, such as their family and friends, can also experience this guilt. They may find themselves burdened by guilt for not having faced the same struggles as the survivor or for not being able to fully comprehend and support them. They may also feel guilty that their loved one survived while other patients they met during the experience have not.

Recognizing the Signs: Identifying Survivor’s Guilt

Identifying the signs of survivor’s guilt can be challenging, as they may manifest differently in each individual. However, there are certain common indicators to watch out for. These include persistent feelings of guilt or shame, a sense of isolation from others, depression, and anxiety.

Seeking Support: Coping Strategies for Survivor’s Guilt

Coping with survivor’s guilt requires seeking support from reliable sources such as friends, family, or a therapist. Opening up about your feelings and experiences can help you process and gain a better understanding of them. It is crucial to prioritize self-care and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Remember, it is normal to experience a range of emotions and feelings about your survival, and it is vital to grant yourself the time and space needed to navigate through them.

Moving Forward Together

It is essential to understand that survivor’s guilt is a natural response to trauma and you are not alone in your feelings of guilt. Seeking the support of loved ones, practicing self care, and processing your feelings with the help of a professional counselor or therapist are all effective strategies to help work through these feelings and move forward.

By acknowledging and understanding survivor’s guilt, we can provide the necessary support and resources to help survivors and their support networks cope with the aftermath. Remember, you are not alone, and with the right tools and assistance, it is possible to move toward a brighter future.

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