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Giving Thanks for Colorectal Cancer Survivors

Cornucopia of fall fruits and pumpkinToday there are more than 1 million survivors of colon and rectal cancer in the United States, probably 600,000 to 700,000 with no sign of cancer.

And we are grateful for their courage and persistence and for all the people that have made more cures and longer survival possible.

The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship defines  someone as a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis and for the balance of life.

Some survivors are still being treated for cancer, others are no longer being treated by still have active disease.  Finally Post-Treatment or Long-Term Survivors have completed their treatment and have no signs of cancer.

Very often close family and friends who are touched by the cancer experience count themselves as survivors as well.

For a healthy survivorship, remember that most people with colorectal cancer will die of something else — hopefully after a long life.  So,

  • Maintain a healthy weight.  Not only will that protect you against further cancers, it will reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
  • Don’t smoke and keep your alcohol intake moderate.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least five days a week.  45 minutes is better.
  • If your post-treatment colon and rectum allow it, eat more plant-based foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans.  Limit red meat and avoid processed meat altogether.
  • Have regular screenings for other cancers.  Follow your survivorship plan for the right schedule of colorectal cancer screening after treatment ends.
  • Get a flu shot every year and talk to your doctor about other vaccinations you may need as an adult, especially if you are over 65.
  • Be sure that you get a written Survivorship Plan from your doctor at the end of your active cancer treatment.

Finally, the Surgeon General has declared this Thanksgiving Day Family Health History Day. As families gather, it’s a perfect time to talk about what diseases might run in a family and get information to create My Family Health History Portrait. You can begin it online, save it so you can add more information as you learn it, and print it out for other family members.

You can find more survivorship information on Fight Colorectal Cancer’s Patient Pages.

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