Many of us have some illness or disease that touches our hearts personally. I have a a few, but one of the major diseases that touches me is cancer. For me, it isn’t just any cancer, but Breast cancer-but I will walk each year until we stomp out cancer for good. Whether it is Sarcoma cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic, lung, cancer of the brain. Cancer awareness and research is something I will fight for probably for as long as I live or until a cure is found.
Why so passionate, you ask me? I grew up knowing cancer existed, but often it wasn’t discussed-it is the big, bad C word. Cancer did not fully affect my life until my Senior year of high school. My mom tried to act tough, but there were days you could tell the treatments were affecting her negatively. And it was hard to not notice her missing presence when she was gone for treatment. It all became so real when her hair began to fall out and she wasn’t able to participate in things she once did until she healed some.
I am proud and happy to say that my mom pulled through with flying colors and not only that, did it again a few years later when she got it again. She has now been cancer free for five years! But the fight didn’t end there. Not too many years ago I found out my Aunt had cancer. I love my aunt to no end. We don’t get to talk a lot and I don’t see her nearly enough, but she is in my heart and I love her dearly. She, like my mother came through and is fighting. I believe my grandparents gave birth to the strongest fighters I have ever met. All eight of my aunts/uncles are strong-not much can get to them.
Sadly, in our nation, and the world, the fight does not end with these two women. On average, over 4200people in the US are diagnosed with cancer each day-that is nearly 1.5 million people a year! Roughly 1500 people a day die in the US from cancer. It is reported that in 2014 alone there will be about 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. Cancer remains the second most common reason for death in the US. (about 1 out of 4 deaths)
*according to the American Cancer Society. (more information can be found at http://www.cancer.org )
While steps are being taken to find a cure for this terrible disease and tons of research is being done, there are things that we can do to help, and to help prevent, the big ‘C’ word.
Steps to Prevent getting Cancer: (note-it will not 100% mean you will not get cancer-but it will greatly reduce the risk!)
1. Quit smoking! If there isn’t a better reason for you to nix that habit, this should really do it for you! Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Because cigarette smoking and tobacco use are acquired behaviors − activities that people choose to do – smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society.
2. Stay at a Healthy Weight.(good diet/exercise) This one is a big one-and often difficult. We have fast food restaurants on almost every corner and tons of easy to make processed foods in our grocery stores. But it is extremely important that we try to keep a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
The evidence for this is strong: Each year, about 585,720 Americans die of cancer; around one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight.
3. Be Safe in the sun! Wear Sunscreen (or cover up!) and nix the Tanning Habit! Both basal and squamous skin cancer(the most common types of skin cancer) tend to be found on sun-exposed parts of the body, and their occurrence is related to lifetime sun exposure. The risk of melanoma, a more serious but less common type of skin cancer, is also related to sun exposure, although perhaps not as strongly. Skin cancer has also been linked to exposure to some artificial sources of UV.
Studies have shown that those who use tanning beds have a higher risk of skin cancer, including melanoma, and squamous and basal cell skin cancers. The risk of melanoma is greater if the person started indoor tanning before age 30 or 35 and the risk of basal and squamous cell skin cancer is higher if indoor tanning started before age 20 or 25.
4. Get Screened! On average, the average woman gets their first screening at around age 40. In some cases, if a parent has gotten cancer before their daughter turns 20, their doctor will advise early screenings between 30-35 due to an increased risk to get cancer. Men, on the other hand, tend to get screened at around 50 years old. No matter your age, women (and girls who have begun their cycle) should do monthly (or weekly in some cases) self breast exams which can be easily done in the shower or while getting dressed in the morning.
How Can You get Involved?
The first and probably easiest way to get involved is to donate. You can do this by visiting: https://donate.cancer.org/index or you can donate to a Relay for Life team. One team that is taking donations currently is found at:http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/?team_id=1466603&pg=team&fr_id=56507 or you can donate here: https://secure.acsevents.org/site/Donation2?idb=1651957646&df_id=1011303&FR_ID=56507&PROXY_ID=33842268&1011303.donation=form1&PROXY_TYPE=20
There are even more ways you can donate, they can be found here: http://www.cancer.org/involved/morewaystogive/index
The second way you can get involved is to Volunteer. There are many ways to volunteer, some of which are:
- Volunteering for events. (I will touch on those in a moment)
- Drive a cancer patient to Chemotherapy
- Put together a team for Relay for Life
- Send an email to family and friends about cancer screening guidelines
The last, but definitely not least , way you can get involved in the fight against cancer is to participate in events. There is a plethora of events to get involved with, and many forms.
There are walks such as the Relay for Life, Making Strides Against Cancer, here in our area there is also Paint the Town Purple. There are Runs, Such as Daffodil Days. There are golf tournaments that are done locally, and also Women’s Health 1st Golf Days. Galas are even held in local communities across the country dedicated to raising money to find a cure.
Companies and sports teams/coaches also have ways to get involved through CEOs against Cancer, Team ACS, and Coaches Vs. Cancer. Meetings and Conferences are also held, including CEOs Against Cancer National Meeting and the Corporate Impact Conference.
My Favorite way to get involved is the Relay For Life. I highly recommend getting involved and participating in this Walk dedicated to stomping out Cancer. The whole idea about it is No One Rests until Cancer Does. There is walking, vending booths, good food, friends and family, TONS of survivors and those still fighting there.
All the funds raised at Relay for Life goes to the fight for a cure and the research for a cure. It is donated to American Cancer Society which has been raising awareness and researching/searching for a cure since 1914 and has made great strides in providing information on the treatment and prevention of cancer of all forms.
If you are local to me, I plead with you do join our team, the Area Misfits this year on June 20-21, 2014 at the Suny Cortland Stadium Complex and walk with us for a cure. To join our team, all you have to do is follow this link:
and click on Join Our Team. (it is only $10 to sign up and goes right to ACS to further Cancer research.)
If you are not local, I urge you to go to: http://www.relayforlife.org/ to find a walk near you and eiher join a team, or start your own team.
Together we can find a cure. Together we can rise above the big, ugly ‘C’ word! Join me, and so many others in the fight against cancer!