April 9 – Day of Valor and Cancer Survivors Day

April 9 – Araw ng Kagitingan, Day of Valor, and Cancer Survivors Day

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg

April 9, 2014

Today, April 9, 2014, is a national holiday in the Philippines. 

The basis for this holiday is the 1961 Republic Act No. 3022: An Act Proclaiming the Ninth Day of April as Bataan Day and Declaring it as a Legal Holiday.  

Araw ng Kagitingan (Filipino for “Day of Valor”), also known as Bataan Day, is a national observance in the Philippines which commemorates the fall of Bataan during World War II.

This morning, as I was pondering on today’s commemoration, that of the heroism of Filipinos and USAFFE officers and soldiers depending Bataan against the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, I thought of my cancer survivors project.  The immediate triggering factor for connecting the two entities was my latest discovery of another of my patient-cancer-survivors on April 8, 2014, who became the 89th in my Cancer Survivors Registry. 

I was thinking: April 9 is Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor commemorating the bravery of the soldiers.  For sure, there is bravery in my cancer survivors and in other cancer survivors.  I was asking myself: Why not use April 9 to commemorate the bravery of cancer survivors as well, that is, if there is no official date for such purpose?   

I searched the Internet for information that would answer my queries and that would bolster my idea.

There is no “Cancer Survivor Day” or a day that commemorates the cancer survivors in the DOH Calendar.   

There is a National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States being celebrated every first Sunday of June.  It started in 1988.  It was established and being maintained by the National Cancer Survivors Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. (http://www.ncsd.org/)  Though it is mainly celebrated in the United States, the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation is attempting to grow its popularity in other countries.

There is a National Colon Cancer Survivor Day in the USA. (http://ccalliance.org/blog/national-colon-cancer-survivor-day/)

I did not come across any National Cancer Survivor Day initiative in the Philippines yet in the Internet.

Below are excerpts from the webpages of National Cancer Survivors Day (USA).

National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual, treasured Celebration of Life that is held in hundreds of communities nationwide and around the world. It is a CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community. Participants unite in a symbolic event to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful, productive, and even inspiring.

It is a day for everyone, whether you’re a cancer survivor, a family member, friend, or medical professional. This day provides an opportunity for all people living with a history of cancer – including America’s nearly 14 million cancer survivors – to connect with each other, celebrate milestones, and recognize those who have supported them along the way. Anyone can host an NCSD event.

When is National Cancer Survivors Day? National Cancer Survivors Day is traditionally observed on the first Sunday in June. However, some communities choose a different day for their local celebration.

What does the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation do? The nonprofit National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation provides free guidance, education, and networking to hundreds of hospitals, support groups, and other cancer-related organizations that host NCSD events in their communities. Through National Cancer Survivors Day, the Foundation works to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors by educating the public on the issues of survivorship.

Who is a cancer survivor? 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. National Cancer Survivors Day is an opportunity for your community to demonstrate that it has an active, productive cancer survivor population.

http://www.ncsd.org/about-us

Back to my thoughts, perceptions, opinions, and recommendations.

April 9 is Araw ng Kagitingan or Day of Valor commemorating the bravery of the soldiers.  For sure, there is bravery in cancer survivors.

Why not use April 9 to commemorate the bravery of cancer survivors as well, that is, if there is no official date for such purpose?  

Any organizations or institutions in the Philippines can spearhead and develop a National Cancer Survivors Day.  Any interested non-governmental organization can do it.  For the existing organizations, the Philippine Cancer Society and Philippine Society of Oncology are appropriate for spearheading and developing the National Cancer Survivors Day in the Philippines.

I don’t mind if April 9 is not chosen as the National Cancer Survivors Day.  Any date will do.  I am more concerned with the establishment and development of a National Cancer Survivors Day to commemorate the bravery of the Filipinos cancer survivors.

While dreaming of a National Cancer Survivors Day in the Philippines today, I could not help looking at what I have been doing in the past and currently that are somehow related to the theme of commemorating the cancer survivors.  I have two projects along this theme.  The first is Cancer Crusaders Club and the second is Cancer Survivors Registry.

In 1998, the same year that National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, Inc. first held the National Cancer Survivors Day in the Unites States, I started the Cancer Crusaders Club.  (http://ca_crusaders_club.tripod.com/cancercc.htm)  The National Cancer Survivors Day of USA is held on every first Sunday of June and my Cancer Crusaders Club is held on every first Sunday of December.  The title of the annual gathering is Cancer Crusaders Club Annual Christmas Get-together.    The annual get-together is still ongoing (last one was in December 2013).  Although carrying a new name starting 2001 (now MDH Cancer Crusaders Club), the Club has been achieving the same goals as those of  the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation, Inc.  – “CELEBRATION for those who have survived, an INSPIRATION for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of SUPPORT for families, and an OUTREACH to the community.”  Thus, come to think it, the MDH Cancer Crusaders Club is essentially commemorating the bravery of the cancer survivors at the hospital level, without using the phrase, Cancer Survivors Day.  It may very well be an MDH Cancer Survivors Day on every first Sunday of December.

CCC_1988_A_ORIG

In December 23, 2011, on a personal level, I created the ROJoson Cancer Survivors Registry.  This registry is contained in a personal website. (https://sites.google.com/site/rojosonscancersurvivors/)    The website contains brief notes and pictures of cancer patients whom I have treated starting 1980 (year I was doing general surgery and surgical oncology residency in the Philippine General Hospital) and who are considered “cancer survivors” using an operational criterion of at least 10 years in remission after treatment.

cancer_survivors_registry_google_frontpage_14apr9

I have envisioned the site and the cancer survivors contained therein to serve as an inspiration to current and future cancer patients and to debunk the thinking that having cancer is always a death sentence.  As of April 9, 2014, I have 89 cancer survivors in the registry.

Just like the Cancer Crusaders Club, the Cancer Survivors Registry commemorates the bravery of cancer survivors while giving inspiration to current and future cancer patients, essentially the same goals as those of the National Cancer Survivors Day.

Again, while dreaming of a National Cancer Survivors Day in the Philippines, I hope it will be a reality one day, for today, April 9, 2014, I will do the commemoration of cancer survivors by publishing this article in the Net.  I will encourage other hospitals to do projects along the line of commemorating the bravery of cancer survivors in their catchment community.  I will encourage other hospitals and other cancer specialists to do their respective cancer survivors registries.

Starting this year, on a personal level, I will use April 9 to commemorate the bravery of cancer survivors as well as those of the soldiers who fought in Bataan for the independence of the Philippines.

Thus, starting 2014, I have 3 activities to commemorate the bravery of cancer survivors: April 9 (through online media at the very least starting today); first Sunday of December (through the MDH Cancer Crusaders Club Annual Christmas Get-Together); and my Cancer Survivors Registry (through tracking, updating, and online publishing).

I may also create subgroups of Cancer Survivors Day, such as Breast Cancer Survivors Day and Thyroid Cancer Survivors Day.

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ROJ@65@14apr9

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