Cancer-Raising Awareness and Fighting Back
Raising Awareness and Fighting Back
Helpless is the feeling that comes to mind when I learn about yet another friend or relative who is battling one of the many forms of cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in its second edition of Global Cancer Facts and Figures Report, worldwide one in eight deaths are due to cancer. Cancer claims more lives than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Furthermore, when countries are grouped according to economic development, cancer is the leading cause of death in developed countries and the second leading cause of death in developing countries (following heart diseases).
Worldwide there were 12.7 million new cancer cases in 2008 according to estimates from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). By 2030, the expected growth of cancer across the globe is estimated to grow to 21.4 million new cancer cases and 13.2 million cancer deaths due to the growth and aging of the population coupled with reductions in childhood mortality and deaths from infectious diseases in developing countries.
What Can Be Done
With these staggering facts and figures it begs the question of what can be done, to not only stop the rampage of new cases, but of the number of deaths as well. The good news is that there is plenty that can, and is being done.
The American Cancer Society reminds us of the following things that we all can and should do:
- Learn about cancer-it’s risk factors, prevention and treatment
- Stay healthy-get active and exercise. Not only does exercise support our overall health but it may lower the of risk cancer too. Healthy living includes, among other things, a tobacco free lifestyle coupled with good eating habits as well as taking care of your skin when exposed to the sun.
- Find support and treatment –find doctors and hospitals and support groups should you be affected by cancer. Whether you yourself are facing cancer, or a member of your family or circle of friends finds that they are. Support while battling cancer is imperative to coping with such a horrible disease and equally important to find whether you are the patient, or are supporting a patient.
- Explore research-learning about the groundbreaking advances in cancer research not only raises awareness, but it can offer hope to those who are on the front lines while battling this disease.
- Get involved- this can range from donating to the cause, to participating in an event, and/or volunteering to help fight for legislation to help defeat cancer. The possibilities are limited only to one’s imagination.
Like many, cancer has touched me in so many ways. I have lost both my mother and step mother to cancer. My mother died from colon cancer, (one of the most treatable of the cancers), my step mother from breast cancer.
The list of other relatives either battling or have lost their battle include the father-in-law that I never met because he succumbed to lung cancer long before I met my husband, two of my sister-in-law’s and two first cousins who are breast cancer survivors, a close friend and colleague who lost her battle to breast cancer as well as a former colleague who is currently in the fight against breast cancer.
Two years ago pancreatic cancer claimed the lives of one of my colleagues and another one’s brother. Leukemia recently took the life of my aunt and is currently wreaking havoc on my cousin’s four year old grandchild. Sadly, the list goes on but I believe my point has been made. Cancer strikes just about everyone in one way or another.
My response to cancer is to try and closely follow the reminders listed above and pray tirelessly for those affected by cancer. In addition to being on the national bone marrow register for the past 15 years, I recently have found yet another wonderful way to fight back and at the same time stay healthy.
Despite the fact that I am not what anyone would consider an athlete, I have found that I can work on staying healthy and at the same time raise awareness and dollars to fight cancer. I do this by participating in running races.
I have participated in the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure to help find a cure for breast cancer. This is a 5 K race that is held annually in cities across America. For the past three years it is with pride that I have also participated in the Leukemia and Lymphomia Society’s Nike Women’s Marathon (I run the half marathon which is 13.1 miles rather than the full 26.2 miles as I am not an athlete, remember?!) this event is held in San Francisco.
This past year I joined the Leukemia and Lymphomia Society’s Team in Training (a sports training charity) and not only received excellent support and coaching but I learned so much about what Leukemia and Lymphomia really is all about and how it affects so many people around the globe.
Part of the mission of the Team in Training organization is to raise awareness about blood cancers as well as raise funds to support research in finding a cure. I was able to couple my affection for running with raising not only money but awareness about this insidious disease.
By participating in raising awareness and dollars I am able to fight back against cancer and at the same time gain so much from the people involved in the effort and take comfort knowing that I am doing something to fight back!
What You Can Do
Whether you participate in a race or some sort of physical endeavor to fight cancer or make a donation or any other of the countless ways that you can fight back, the most important thing is to actually find a way that you can fight back and take action, as it is easier than one might suspect. Just think if everyone across the globe would join in the fight against cancer perhaps the staggering statistics would be altered in a meaningful way!