We have gone from experiencing the greatest fear of our lives (our own mortality), through treatment, and feeling totally adrift, to some level of acceptance regarding our new minds and bodies. We are survivors in full bloom.

Dan McKellar, MD, FACS, chair of the Commission on Cancer, sees that same blossoming when it comes to the level of survivorship awareness in survivorship programs. “The Commission took a bold step in mandating survivorship standards in 2012.” The mandate states that all cancer centers must have survivorship programs in place by 2015 to continue their accreditation. That’s like a 4th of July celebration for survivors! Carter tells us that survivors’ voices are the building blocks to survivorship programs’ growth.

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A survivor friend speaks well for all of us: “Now I go with the flow. I don’t have time for negativity. I have purged myself of the time sinks, negative people and frivolous obligations.… If you want something, go for it. You have already faced the worst that can happen; you could have died. But you didn’t, so go for it.”


As for me, my journey to survivorship has brought me to cofounding the Women Survivors Alliance with my sister survivor, Karen Shayne. Our organization supports women survivors in three ways.

• The National Women’s Survivors Convention ( to be held August 22-24, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee;

• A digital magazine for women survivors offering articles on everything from exercise and nutrition, to financial, legal, and sexual issues that makes its debut at the convention;

• One-day events, called Camp Purple, hosted at medical facilities across the country. These microcosms of the national convention will provide education, motivation, and life application to survivors as they venture forth in their new lives.

I am not the same woman I was before cancer. But I am grateful to have traveled through all four seasons of survivorship. It means I am alive. I embrace the new woman I have become. My mission is clear: to reach out to others and help them arrive at their survivor summer. ONA 


1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2013.