That’s why a series called Survivorship Today : What It’s Like to Live with Cancer was created to share stories of people across the country who have been affected by cancer and advance our collective understanding of what it’s like to live with the disease today. The series helps bring attention to their personal triumphs and challenges, because with greater understanding, we can inspire more action and better support.
When AJ was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, he was told he only had a few years to live. Now, seven years later, he has joined Survivorship Today to share the physical and emotional challenges he still experiences even after treatment has ended.
AJ still experiences limited use of his right arm and hand, reduced sensation in his right leg that impacts his gait, fatigue and other issues that can make everyday tasks difficult to perform. As a lung cancer survivor, he faces even greater challenges in the height of COVID-19. Research has shown the virus is associated with a high burden of severity in patients with lung cancer, and AJ finds he is once again feeling isolated and his family needs to take extra precautions.
He also used to be fixated on making it from one milestone to the next, but soon realized those feelings were stealing not only his happiness, but also the happiness of those around him. Today, AJ tries to live each moment in the present, being fully immersed in what he’s doing. He practices daily meditation, listens more and says his relationships have become stronger than ever.
There are nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today, and thanks to advances in research, that number is expected to increase to 26 million by 2040. Despite this progress, research is only beginning to understand how cancer impacts us over time.
Joining AJ is Shelley Fuld Nasso, CEO of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivors (NCCS), who can discuss NCCS’ 2020 State of Cancer Survivorship survey and ways to better support survivorship needs, particularly during the time of COVID-19.
AJ and Shelley discuss why they got involved in Survivorship Today, and what they want others to know about life with cancer today.
Interview courtesy: Bristol Myers Squibb
Survivorship Today is a series by Bristol Myers Squibb