National Cancer Survivors Day: Pathways and Hope for Mesothelioma


National Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated every year on the first Sunday in June, this year on June 2. The day is intended to recognize cancer survivors, raise awareness of the challenges and celebrate life after a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer treatment centers and cancer support organizations often host celebrations. They are an opportunity for survivors to come together, honor their journey through cancer, and celebrate surviving cancer.

Some mesothelioma patients have shared that they wonder if they can call themselves survivors if they are still undergoing treatment or are showing signs of mesothelioma. The National Cancer Institute defines a cancer survivor as any person “from the time of diagnosis.”

Everyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer – including mesothelioma patients – is a survivor. National Cancer Survivors Day is a special opportunity for mesothelioma survivors to reflect on their journey and celebrate their perseverance.

Advances in mesothelioma treatment give hope

In my experience as an oncology counselor and as a mesothelioma support group leader, I have heard from mesothelioma survivors that they sometimes struggle to find hope as they live with a cancer for which there is still no cure. As a cancer survivor, I have personally found that looking to the past can help inspire hope for the future.

When I see the progress that has been made in the treatment of mesothelioma and other cancers since I started as a consultant in 1996, it gives me hope for how far we can now go. Just this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Priority Review to the combination of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda and chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for metastatic malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Hope reflects our hopes and desires for the future. The advances of the past that have allowed people with mesothelioma to be diagnosed earlier, treated more effectively, and live longer give me hope. Research into treating mesothelioma continues today and will build on what we have learned so far.

When I began leading our monthly mesothelioma support group in 2014, immunotherapy was not yet a first-line treatment option for mesothelioma as it is today. Seeing how far we have come to this point and the progress we have made in just the year 2024 gives me hope.

This year, the FDA gave accelerated approval to a UV-1 vaccine in combination with Opdivo and Yervoy. Analyses of ADI-PEG20 (pegargiminase) showed that the 3-year survival rate quadrupled. Tests for the early detection of mesothelioma are also in development.

For mesothelioma patients, Cancer Survivors Day can be a day of mixed emotions. But focusing on the progress we have made and the significant research breakthroughs that are taking place can give mesothelioma patients hope.