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Cancer Among Us

Updated on February 8, 2015

Cancer - One of the Scariest of all Diseases

It is estimated that one in three people will contract cancer, and one in four will die from the disease. Approximately 7.6 million people die from cancer each year according to the American Cancer Society. There are more than 100 types of cancer, and each cancer type is named for the organ or tissue in which it begins.

Those figures seem pretty astounding. Just what is cancer anyway?

Cancer can refer to any one of a large number of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and have the ability to infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. Cancer also has the ability to spread throughout your body. Cancer can be one of the scariest of all diseases.

Almost everyone in their lifetime will have some type of cancer scare. That does not mean you will get cancer, perhaps a benign cyst. Or something else that will make you change the way you live. Many of us have lost friends and family to cancer. I myself have lost some friends and family. A few years ago, I lost a cousin to brain cancer and in October 2008, my niece's husband lost a two year battle with colon cancer.

This is about cancer awareness and not cancer scare. The more informed on cancer symptoms and prevention the better we are to live healthy happy lives.

Number two Disease Among Women

When women think of cancer, the first thing that comes to mind is breast cancer. But the most common cause of cancer deaths among women is lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The other major cancers for women are breast cancer and colorectal. Here is the breakdown among the races.

Lung cancer (40.6)

* First among white (41.6), black (40.2), Asian/Pacific Islander (18.2), and American Indian/Alaska Native (29.2) women.

* Second among Hispanic women (14.4).

Breast cancer (24.0)

* First among Hispanic women (15.1).

* Second among white (23.3), black (32.9), Asian/Pacific Islander (12.3), and American Indian/Alaska Native (15.3) women.

Colorectal cancer (14.6)

* Third among women of all races and Hispanic origin populations.

Cancer Symptoms Women Need to Know

Note: These syptoms can mean other things. Example: If you have lower back pain does not mean you have cancer. The best protection for wellness is to get regualar exams and talk to your doctor.

1. Pelvic Pain, Lower Back Pain and Abdominal Swelling and Bloating:

Pain or pressure below the navel and is persistent beyond the premenstrual syndrome. Pelvic pain is associated with endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, fallopian tube cancer and vaginal cancer. Abdominal swelling and bloating is a common symptom of ovarian cancer. If this system occurs on a regular basis, it should not be ignored. Lower back pain occurs in the lower part of the back and feels like a dull ache. Lower back pain is a symptom of ovarian cancer.

2. Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding:

This is the most common symptom with gynecologic cancer. Heavy periods and bleeding between periods are considered abnormal bleeding and can be symptoms of gynecologic cancer. The symptom of abnormal vaginal bleeding is linked to: cervical cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer.

3. Persistent Stomach Upset or Bowel Changes:

Constipation, diarrhea, blood in the stools, gas, thinner stools, or just a general overall change in bowel habits, should be seen by a doctor. These changes are all symptoms of gynecologic cancer and colon cancer.

4. Changes in the Breast:

Women should look for lumps, soreness, nipple discharge, dimpling, redness, or swelling in their regular breast self-exam. Report any changes to your doctor.

5. Persistent Fever, Unintentional Weight Loss and Fatigue:

These are thing that shouldn't be taken lightly. You know your body than anyone else. If something seems out of sorts, see your doctor.

An Extravert + an Introvert = Marriage

Everyone knows that opposites attract. That was no different in the case of Marcia and Joel.

I have known Marcia (my niece on my husband's side) since she was twelve and I was nineteen. Even then, her mouth ran a mile a minute. But it has never been ramblings. She is an intelligent person and everything that she has ever said, was worth listening to.

Joel on the other hand had always been known as the quiet boy in school. Even once he began seeing Marcia and we knew that it was serious, rarely would we hear Joel speak. Though over the years Joel became more involved in the conversations and he had a sense of humor about everything. He was an easy going guy that found the best of the worst.

Joel and his family have always been physically fit. Though Joel had a sweet tooth...He loved candy. Now we are not talking about a candy bar. He would have a bag of candy all to himself. We often joke about his candy addiction.

If Joel had any signs that something was wrong, he had chosen to ignore it. The day that he went in for a routine dental appointment, Joel felt ill. From the dentist office, he ended up at the hospital. This is when our family was told of Joel's colon cancer.

An early sign of colon cancer is treatable, but Joel was not in the early stages. Treatment was done and it became a long road.

A year and a half later, Joel was back to his healthy self. Everyone thought he beat it. He was back working full time and doing all the things we take for granted.

But then it all turned. He became thin and complained of feeling cold. In the summer, going to a softball game took a lot of energy out of him. He said he could no longer enjoy himself with his children. On October 13, 2008 he lost his two year fight with cancer.

(Their children as of 2009 were 13 and 11. The picture above is a little further back in time.)

2010, Marcia lost her dad to prostate cancer. He had beat it 10 years earlier.

Leading Cancer Death among Men

Lung cancer (69.4)

First among men of all races and Hispanic origin populations.

Prostate cancer (25.4)

Second among white (22.7), black (54.1), American Indian/Alaska Native (18.0), and Hispanic (18.7) men.

Colorectal cancer (21.0)

Third among men of all races and Hispanic origin populations.

Liver cancer (14.5)

Second among Asian/Pacific Islander men.

Cancer Symptoms Men Need to Know

Note: These syptoms can mean other things. Example: If you have lower back pain does not mean you have cancer. The best protection for wellness is to get regualar exams and talk to your doctor.

1. Pain or difficulty urinating:

Prostate cancer can be a sign with painful or difficult urination. This also includes having a weak stream of urine. Look out for any blood in the urine.

2. Testicular lumps, Sore, lesion or growth on the penis:

A lump in the testicle can be a sign of testicular cancer. A monthly testicular self exam is in order. A sore or lesion on the penis is a symptom of penile cancer. Penile cancer, although rare, does occur.

3. Pelvic pain, Persistent Stomach Upset or Bowel Changes:

Pain in the pelvic region can mean testicular and prostate cancer. Constipation, diarrhea, blood in the stools, gas, thinner stools, or just a general overall change in bowel habits, see your doctor. Changes in the bowel can be signs of colon cancer. See a doctor if this last more than a few days.

4. Changes in the breast:

Watch out for symptoms like nipple discharge, lumps, skin dimpling and a red or scaly appearance on or around the breast. This is not something that is heard of too often, but men can also develop breast cancer.

5. Coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath:

Difficulty breathing, wheezing or a cough that does not go away can be a symptom of lung cancer.

6. Persistent Fever, Unintentional Weight Loss and Fatigue:

If these symptoms continue for more than a few days, see your physician.

Too Perfect for This World

Beautiful wavy raven black hair with deep dark brown eyes; she had a heart of gold. Fifteen and already knew she wanted to be a teacher. Everyday, Linda would practice her teaching skills. She would stand by the green freestanding chalkboard in the bedroom she shared with her little sister, Sandy. She would begin with simple add and subtraction equations for this five year old. Linda taught her sister to read, learn the alphabet and how to spell some words before starting school. Back in those days, most children didn't learned all that before going to kindergarten.

Linda was more than a sister. She was a protector and friend. She protected her little sister from the brother, who would punch this little girl in the arm on a daily basis. Linda would command him to stop. And he would for a while. Sandy looked up to her big sister and felt a special bond. Linda never complained when Sandy would cling to her like a little puppy.

It was a great time in life until that spring day...

Linda was at school walking between classes, when suddenly her knee buckled underneath. Falling to the ground, she couldn't get up. Fellow students carried her to the office. Then later carried her to the car where her mother with sister waited. From there they drove to the hospital.

A large tumor was found on her knee. The surgeon had said he had successfully removed the cancer. Linda's leg was plastered in a cast. All her friends and the support from the church were there for her. Linda said that soon she would be walking again and everything would be back to normal.

Off came the cast and the crutches. Everything seemed fine, until an examination shown the cancer was back. Perhaps it never left. Now it was spreading throughout the bones.

It all seemed to move so fast. Soon Linda's once strong body had betrayed her. She was confined to a wheelchair. And her baby sister moved into the brother's room.

The pain was getting harder to hide. It showed on her face and you could hear it in her voice. But she still had her strength in family, friends and faith.

Linda gave a good fight to bone cancer for two years. At age 17, Linda was at peace. The family said she was too perfect for this world.

Bone Cancer:

National Cancer Institute Primary bone cancer is cancer that forms in cells of the bone. Some types of primary bone cancer are osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, and chondrosarcoma. Secondary bone cancer is cancer that spreads to the bone from another part of the body, such as the prostate, breast, or lung.

Do you know someone who has cancer? - Sign the guestbook so I know you were here!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for this information.It is really informative and helpful for the people.Keep giving such a valuable information.

      Regards:oncology hospital india

    • Elizabeth McAvoy profile image

      Elizabeth McAvoy 4 years ago

      Excellent Lens. Thank you for taking time to spread awareness for this.

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 5 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 6 years ago

      I know first hand how hard it is to experience this disease. My father was diagnosed with Colon Cancer this month and it is something that we did not expect. This is a horrible disease and I really hope that we can find the cure for them all soon!! Excellent lens Sandy! Thanks for the info.

    • JuliaBusch profile image

      JuliaBusch 6 years ago

      HI,

      Interestingly, there are several schools of thought regarding cancer. The conventional or mainstream thinking is that cancer is a local problem that then spreads systemically. So the disease is treated with surgery, chemo and radiation which suppresses the immune system.

      The alternative thinking is that cancer is a systemic problem caused by a suppressed immune system with the local manifestation as a symptom. So the cancer is treated by boosting immunity and may also include surgery and other mainstream considerations.

      And in my research for my Standard Poodle Nikki's canine osteosarcoma, I have found that there is a third school of thought which feels that cancer is a lack of pancreatic enzymes. The thinking doesn't omit surgery if necessary, but avoids chemo and radiation. It boosts immunity and adds in nutritional aspects, diet as well as pancreatic enzymes, including proteolytic (protein dissolving) enzymes.

      The approach is a metabolic-nutritional therapy. And has exceeded chemo and radiation in even stage IV pancreatic cancer. I have no personal "interests" in telling you this. I just thought you should know.

      You can learn more on this as well as natural low level radiation which helped Nikki tremendously on http://NikkisStory.com Just site search for "radiation hormesis" and "enzyme therapy" or "pancreatic enzymes." I hope you will check it out. While the site is for canine osteosarcoma, much of the treatments have been drawn from human research.

      Best of luck with your lens,

      Julia

    • profile image

      celeBritys4africA 6 years ago

      Cancer is a disease difficult to diagnose and widely spread. Due to Africa's lack of cancer resources, it's still the continent least prepared to cope with the devastating effects of cancer.

    • newbizmau profile image

      Guided Abundance 6 years ago from Mobile, AL

      I like this lens so much I lensrolled it to my lens: 4 Easy Ways to Prevent Cancer

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      What a touching lens. 2 years ago my daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. She received chemotherapy and is now cancer free. But there are so many more I know with cancer. Like you said, there is a high percentage of people who contract the disease.

    • profile image

      JaimeC 7 years ago

      I am very interested in your squidoo page, mainly because of the fact that I have family that diseased from it. I like how you are raising public awareness to the community. I would enjoy it if you would visit my Athletes for a Cure page and perhaps link me here so the organization can receive publicity for their prostate cancer funding.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      You are right Sandy, I suppose we all know several people you have battled with cancer. I personally know a few survivors, but I have had several close family members who have died from some form of cancer. My own brother died just 2 years ago. The symptoms are are often missed or ignored because we dismiss them as just getting older.

      Angel Blessed and added to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens. Congratulations on receiving the well deserved purple star.

    • profile image

      AndreaGerak 7 years ago

      Great intention Sandy and you put a lot of work into your lens!

      However, I will not donate one cent to these causes, since I found out where does the money indeed go...

      And these cancer etc organizations will not tell you that cancer CAN be indeed cured, with relatively cheap methods - it's a deception that they need $ millions every year for research.

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 7 years ago

      My auntie (my Mom's little sister) died of breast cancer. My Mom is healthy; but I fear that my auntie's illness would somehow happen again in my family (to me or my daughter). I hope it won't come true.

    • The-Java-Gal profile image

      The-Java-Gal 7 years ago

      The congratulations on your purple star is bittersweet. I am at a loss for words - death, from whatever cause - leaves holes in the heart. This is a beautifully written lens on a very painful subject - very deserving of that purple star.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Congratulations on your Purple Star and so sorry for your recent losses.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      Congratulations on your well deserved Purple Star. I lost my uncle to cancer a few years ago and my aunt, his wife, just this month. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to loose a sister. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • lakern26 lm profile image

      lakern26 lm 7 years ago

      Sandy, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and your niece's husband. I, myself, lost my godmother to lung cancer a few years ago. It seemed like one day, she was celebrating her retirement and, the next, she was diagnosed. She deteriorated very quickly. I applaud you for trying to enlighten people about these diseases. Congratulations on a very well-deserved purple star.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      congratulations on your purple star. A really well deserved purple star. Your personal accounts mixed with the facts really make this an outstanding lens. Good job on a difficult topic.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 7 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Lensrolled to my Cancer Warrior lens. I hope people read and heed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Beautiful lens, Sandy. Great information and well presented. You dealt with cancer very early in your life. Blessed by this SquidAngel and featured on my angel lens

    • SandyMertens profile image
      Author

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      @BarbRad: Thank you Barbara. Sorry about the people you have lost to this disease.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 7 years ago

      An excellent lens Sandy.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Cancer took both my parents, my aunt, was, I believe a factor in our close friend's death, and is trying to take another close friend. Thank you for an informative lens that does a better job than most information I've read on describing symptoms.

    • JuneMary LM profile image

      JuneMary LM 7 years ago

      Really good info on symptoms.

    • profile image

      Harrispam 7 years ago

      Thank you for the great information on your lens. Its so important to have those yearly checkups, and to really listen to your body when things just don't feel right. We lost our mom six months ago to cervical cancer. We only found out about the cancer in November and she was gone by April . Last week she would have tuned 66 that was one tough day. All the best

    • SandyMertens profile image
      Author

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      [in reply to Wysiwigs] I will keep my fingers cross for you.

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 7 years ago

      I am a breast cancer survivor, and have just had the CA-125 test done for ovarian cancer (it's not back yet). Cancer is a frightening thing, as all too often there are few to no symptoms (I had none for the BC). Nice lens on a tough subject :o)

    • profile image

      tdove 8 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Excellent lens. This is a very important subject.

    • profile image

      roysumit 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing such a great lens on CancerAwareness, Sandy. We all are succeptable to cancer irrespective of age and gender. Awraeness about the symptoms can surely help us in taking appropriate measures against this dreaded disease. Highly imformative lens and great work. Once again thanks for sharing.

    • Adrienne Jenkins profile image

      Adrienne Jenkins 8 years ago

      I did not know about colorectal cancer being a serious threat as well. Thanks for taking the time to document about cancer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Sandy - I am so sorry to read the sadness in this lens and how the disease has affected your family. My husband lost his mother to cancer and currently I have a friend who is about to start chemo. You are right that we must always be watchful for symptoms.

      SquidAngel Blessings for you.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Sandy, this is such an amazing Cancer Awareness lens. I was saddened to read about your sister. The stories you shared remind each of us how precious each day is on this earth and how we never know what we will be faced with. Well done.

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 8 years ago

      Thanks for this lens. Awareness can save lives. I can't imagine what it was like to lose a sibling at such a young age. I just lost my grandmother last November to pancreatic cancer. Even though she was 93 it still hurts that she had to die in that awful way. I guess there isn't one of us that won't be touched by cancer whether it's our own or a loved one's.

    • profile image

      catfreak 8 years ago

      Very informative lens and a very important topic, nice work!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      That is a great lens you have there, really make me know more about cancer.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Thank for sharing these stories and information. It seems as though we all now know someone who's life has been affected by cancer, whether their own or a loved one's. My father was diagnosed with esophagal cancer in 2005 and passed away in 2007. His was apparently caused over a long period of time by radiation he was exposed to in Hiroshima. He was in the Navy during WWII and was sent into the city as part of the first group to enter after the bombing.

      Anyhow, your lens is so well done, and I'm so sorry to hear about Linda. It reminds me all too closely of a childhood friend I had who also had a tumor on his knee, which eventually spread and took his young life.

    • SylvianeNuccio1 profile image

      SylvianeNuccio1 8 years ago

      Amazing sad stories. This deserve a 5*

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 8 years ago

      My heart is breaking. This a powerful story of loss that has me in tears. Sandy, you were one of my first friends on Squidoo and I cannot tell you how much this story broke my heart for you. I too lost a dear loved on to cancer, my grandmother left us way before her time. I commend you on the wonderful job you did to help make us fully aware of what to look for.

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 8 years ago

      Yes, I have watched three very dear people succumb to this ravaging beast. I am so touched by not only your brave words, but by your diligence in being informative and educational.

      Thank you deeply.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 8 years ago from New Zealand

      Such power in your words. I am sorry for your loss and I hope the sharing of your personal stories along with the symptoms helps many people. Beautifully done. 5*, more if I could.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 8 years ago

      I am writing this while tears stream down my cheeks! Your personal story touched my heart today and I would give you a bazillion stars if I could. Thank you for all the information and most of all for sharing your story. I hope that in some way it was healing for you to write this!

    • profile image

      badmsm 8 years ago

      Informative lens on a topic many of us will face at one point. 5 Stars & a Squid Angel Blessing!

    • seashell2 profile image

      seashell2 8 years ago

      This is a disease that touches the lives of so many! Thanks for sharing your story! Great charity lens!

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 8 years ago

      I was a medical transcriptionist working in a Radiation Oncology department for 11 years and I know way too much about cancer. During that time two of my aunts died from it. I have just been cleared from a couple years of being at high risk for cervical cancer. I wish there was a way to help people be aware of possible cancer symptoms without scaring them to death. I think the fear does a lot of physical damage. 5*

    • drs2biz lm profile image

      David Schroeter 8 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      Thanks for sharing a very personal subject with us. 5 *s and my best wishes to you and your family.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 8 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I lost both parents to cancer -- Dad when he was 70 and Mom when she was 89. My aunt, her little sister, died three years befoire her of lung cancer -- she was a chain smoker. One of my close friends is still valiantly fighting colon cancer after several years of having it. She is currently jsut trying to hang on while entering every experimental program that might help her, hoping a cure will be found, but knowing it might not be. We do not want to lose her. So far, I have only had non-agressive skin cancers, but my husband had one melanoma removed from his leg last year, so we are watchful. His mother died of bladder cancer five years ago. If heredity is a factor, I'm sure my time is coming. Thanks for writing this. I will favorite it and rate it a big 5.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 8 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      very informative and useful lens. thks for sharing.

    • profile image

      bdkz 8 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this very touching story Sandy.

    • profile image

      motorpurrr 8 years ago

      Sorry for your loss, cancer makes me mad, because it takes life before it's ready. I recently discoverd that we need to test our homes for more than lead or mold. Some types of rock put out radon which is a light form of radiation. I was looking because something is wierd about our neighborhood. Too many animals around dying of cancer.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 8 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Sorry for your loss, Sandy. Thanks for sharing valuable information on cancer awareness & for highlighting a very worthy cause. :)

    • TrinaSonnenberg profile image

      Trina Sonenberg 8 years ago from Nucla, Colorado

      I think this is your best lens yet! I am sorry to hear of your loss. I have lost family members to cancer too.

      Recently, I had a scare when the doctor removed skin cancer from my husband's back. We never thought about him developing skin cancer because he hardly ever takes his shirt off outside.

      I think that is part of the reason I quit smoking.

      5***

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      First off, my deepest sympathy to you for your loss. I too lost a sister(to breast cancer) and my Mother had lung cancer, so I am no stranger to the ravages of this horrible disease! Beautifully told story, and gorgeous lens. 5*

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      Beautifully done, Sandy. It is so sad that you lost your sister so young. God needed an extra bright ray of sunshine and Linda was his choice. Every day that the sun shines down on you...it's Linda touching you.

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      Oh how sad that your sister died so young! My deep sympathies!

      And Thank you for providing this important information about cancer for your readers. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 8 years ago

      A beautifully told story on a very sad subject.

    • capriliz lm profile image

      capriliz lm 8 years ago

      Excellent job, Sandy! I am glad you chose this topic. I have lost two members of my family to cancer.