Many of the 14 million cancer survivors in the USA live with physical, emotional and day-to-day concerns related to their cancer long after their treatment ends. Addressing the needs of the growing cancer-survivor population will be a considerable task. In this article, Ruth Rechis--a 20-year survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma--describes her personal account of surviving cancer and her experience as a researcher and advocate in the field of survivorship. Results from a national USA survey on survivorship are shared, illustrating gaps in meeting the needs of long-term survivors. A list of 'essential elements' of survivorship care is highlighted to introduce all practitioners to the components necessary for the provision of care after treatment ends. Finally, Rechis provides recommendations for engaging survivors as active participants in their post-treatment, long-term survivorship care and to ensure appropriate care is universally available as part of patient-centred comprehensive care.