3 Common Characteristics of Cancer Survivors

June is Cancer Survivor Awareness Month.  Battles are being won as the war against cancer continues.

  • Over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after a cancer diagnosis (Canadian Cancer Society)⠀


  • Cancer death rates have been declining since 1988 among men, and since the mid-1990s among women (Government of Canada, Canadian Cancer Statistics)⠀

  • Cancer mortality rates are decreasing more than 2% per year for lung, colorectal, prostate and oral cancers in males; breast and ovarian cancers in females; and Hodgkin disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach cancer, and larynx cancer in males and females (Government of Canada, Canadian Caner Statistics)⠀

My unique vantage of being both a cancer survivor and a professional working with cancer patients has offered me the opportunity to bear witness to some common threads that weave many survivors together.

Although not exhaustive, I feel that these are the most constant traits of cancer survivors that I see.

3 Common Characteristics of a Cancer Survivor

1. A resolve to make necessary changes in diet and lifestyle

cancer survivorsMany cancer survivors change their diet to include whole, plant-based foods and eliminate processed, pro-inflammatory foods because they understanding that what they eat can either enhance health or detract from it.

Supplements to support health are often included along with dietary changes.

The importance of proper sleep, exercise and mindfulness is appreciated and strived for within the lives of many cancer survivors.

2. A willingness to take active participation in determining their cancer protocolunderstanding

Most cancer survivors have asked questions, considered many avenues of care and have taken an active role in determining the cancer protocol that feels right for them.  Many cancer survivors have taken an integrative approach to their care including modalities such as yoga and meditation in to their cancer protocol.

3. A belief that their body can heal

Survivors tend to have a strong belief that given the proper tools their bodies can overcome and heal from cancer.  Once established, a common trait of survivors is the firm belief that their protocol will be successful.

Life after a cancer diagnosis is different.  As with any profound event we experience, cancer resets the framework for us moving forward.  But we do.  We move forward.

We are survivors.

cancer survivors






what's next?

Tapping Out

For those looking from the outside in, it is reasonable to assume that the toughest part of a cancer diagnosis is the treatments that a patient must go through. This may very well be the case. But perhaps an overlooked aspect of a cancer patient’s protocol is what to do when treatments are completed. More people are surviving cancer today and while the focus has justifiably been on the treatment aspect of disease there is an ever-growing need to attend to the surviving patient. Both on the emotional front and on a going forward basis we, as cancer survivors, must come to terms with life after treatment. And this can be a daunting task. Stacking the odds in our favour to prevent reoccurrence comes from addressing the very same pillars of Holistic Health we look to when striving for optimum health; our body, mind and soul. Our after cancer care protocol must focus on nutrients to strengthen our immune system and reduce inflammation as well as cultivating positive lifestyle and exercise habits to further encourage our good health. Perhaps if post care cancer protocols were incorporated routinely we would not only be seeing the trend of greater survival numbers but also we might just see a trend towards diminishing numbers of reoccurrence. Cancer found a breeding ground in us once. We cannot allow ourselves to perpetuate the same circumstances after fighting so hard. We must be diligent forever thus. There is no tapping out when it comes to beating cancer.