On Sunday, June 6, Northwestern University held it’s 17th Annual Cancer Survivor’s Walk. More than 3,500 cancer survivors and their families participated in the four-mile walk, which was hosted by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. The event gave the group a chance to mingle and celebrate their successes together. A cloudless summer morning added to the jovial atmosphere as participants walked along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and through Grant Park. Health care professionals and scientists cheered them on at water stations and commemorated the strides made in cancer treatments over the past decades. One Hawaiian-themed water station even gave away leis and, of course, suntan lotion to the revelers. Some survivors and their family members also wore banners indicating that they were the recipients and donors of cutting-edge bone marrow and stem cell treatments. Posters of cancer survivors were displayed along the route allowing families to pose with larger-than-life portraits of their loved ones.
Many of the survivors in attendance were children and young adults, evidence of the success that young people had beating cancer in recent years. As 80% of children with cancer currently survive their treatments, this event highlights the importance of increasing survivors’ quality-of-life in the years and decades after cancer. Members of the Oncofertility Consortium, who are interested in maintaining the reproductive ability of cancer patients, especially enjoyed seeing the excitement of young survivors during the walk. As fertility preservation for cancer patients becomes more popular, perhaps future celebrations will not only include these cancer survivors and their parents, but also their own children.