April is National Cancer Control Month


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  76 comments   :  16,503 Views

According to the American Cancer Society more than 1.4 million people this year will hear these dreaded words, "You have cancer" and every day 1,500 people will succumb to various forms of this disease. If there is one positive light to having cancer today, survival rates have increased almost 15% in the past 25 or so years based on data released last year by the American Cancer Society. The reason-- earlier diagnosis and better treatments.

Sadly though, many of us have been touched by at least one person in our lifetime who has battled some form of cancer. In 2005, the American Cancer Society released information stating that cancer surpassed heart disease as number one cause of death in people under the age of 85. And if the trend continues, according to the World Health Organization cancer could potentially affect 15 million people worldwide by 2020, only 10 short years from now.

My own life has been touched by this disease. Having lost my mother-in-law to liver cancer on Valentine's Day, I recently heard news of four friends fighting their own battles with this dreaded disease--one with breast cancer, the other Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, another with brain cancer and still another with ovarian cancer--the reality is hitting a little too close to home.

Experts believe the reason we are seeing a rise in cancer rates has to do with better and earlier diagnosis of the disease. While other studies show that smoking rates in developing countries may be partly to blame for the rising rate in those environments. Tobacco use world-wide is one of the biggest risk factors not only for lung cancer, but a number of other cancers such as stomach, kidney and esophageal cancers.

Screenings for breast cancer, prostate and colon cancers have become quite standard once we hit a certain age. Many health care providers now recommend that once a woman hits age 40 she should start receiving a yearly or bi-yearly mammogram, while 50 seems to be the golden age for the baseline colonoscopy. However, these screenings cannot be a replacement for living and embracing healthy habits. Habits such as avoiding smoking, getting in cardio activity on most days of the week, eating healthy grains, veggies and fruit, as well as wearing your sunscreen daily can hopefully help lessen your risk for developing the various cancers.

Take time to talk with your doctor should you have any concerns. Do not allow fear of any new sign or symptom you may be experiencing from getting it checked out.

Have you or do you know of a loved one or friend who has been affected by cancer? Are you diligent about getting the proper screenings per your healthcare provider's recommendation?

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  • 26
    My first experience with cancer in our family was when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1969. Back then, most women died from it but I am happy to say she is still going strong at 86. Since then, my dad, my sister, both grandmothers, my aunt and I have all been diagnosed with cancer. It was tough to hear my diagnosis 7 years ago but my family had given my great examples of how to make the best of life after the diagnosis. It has been really hard to lose family and friends to cancer. Screening and early detection is so important for many cancers. There is currently no cure for my cancer so I am encouraging everyone to support research so that someday, there might be a cure for others. - 4/22/2010   7:36:04 AM
  • 25
    I am a 2 time cancer survivor; Melanoma 16 years ago and breast 3 years algo. I live everyday with the fear that I will hear those words again ( you have cancer ). Right after my diagnosis of breast cancer I thought what the heck I'm going to die any way, so I ate whatever I wanted. Then when I had to keep working all through the radiation treatments I became so resentful that I began emotional eating to the max. I ate my way through every evening. Now, I am struggling to try to get that extra weight off, because I know my chances of hearing those words are even greater with every extra pound I carry. It is a daily struggle, but one worth fighting. - 4/22/2010   7:32:45 AM
  • 24
    I had Cancer when I was 24 and it hasn't come back since. I believe it was due to early detection and early treatment. My grandmother on my Mom's side had the same Cancer and she had a hysterectomy where I didn't but still had a child afterwards. My Dad passed away from prostrate Cancer. I also had a type of Melanoma on my lip that had to be cauterized that hasn't come back in 2 or 3 years. - 4/22/2010   7:16:18 AM
  • 23
    My mother is currently cancer free, but spent most of last year battling with Lung Cancer (yes, she was a heavy smoker - she quit one month before they told her she had cancer.) It's scary to see how many people have dealt with any form of cancer. We just lost a family friend to lung cancer, and my son's father also dealt with throat cancer last year as well. I'm glad things have improved on the testing fronts, so that it is caught so much earlier now. - 4/22/2010   6:53:30 AM
  • 22
    My son is a cancer survivor his father died of cancer as well as my father in law and brother in law. Yes I do get all my yearly checkups. - 4/22/2010   6:52:03 AM
  • 21
    My comments are exactly those of MIMAWELIZABETH below. except my melanoma was on my face and they also found a parotid (saliva gland) cancer at the time of my surgery. That was 29 months ago and my life is filled with doctors' appointments to make sure none of it returns. But I agree with MIMAWELIZABETH, it changes your life- makes you know what's really important (family, not junk food) and deepens your faith in ways you can never imagine. That is why I'm at Spark- I will never go back to taking my health lightly! - 4/22/2010   6:49:42 AM
  • 20
    Malignant melanoma on my leg, which had spread, caused by a sunburn. Oncologist told me I should tell my family, and get my affairs in order; and that he'd do everything he could to give me an extra year of life (beyond the 6 to 9 months diagnosis). VERY frightening and life-changing experience! AND faith-affirming.

    My best birthday EVER was when my daughter turned nine - because it was 22 months after my diagnosis... and THAT was in 1994, and I was healthy! The doctors who treated me - dermatologist, oncologist, and the reconstructive surgeon who did the final surgery - called me their "Miracle."

    PROTECT YOUR SKIN, NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE!!! - 4/22/2010   4:34:42 AM
  • 19
    Lost my mother-in-law to lung cancer last year, April 19th. She was the strongest and warmest woman I have ever known. I still miss her soooo much! - 4/22/2010   2:38:34 AM
    I am at my 2 year anniversary from breast cancer surgery.
    Please do your self exams. Don't skip going to your doctor for an exam or skip getting your mammogram because it's painful. That 3 seconds of pain may save your life. - 4/22/2010   2:01:40 AM
  • 17
    My mother, father, grandparents, and aunts all died of cancer, mainly colon and ovarian cancer. Because of this, I get all my screenings and preach to others about the need to be theirs done also. - 4/22/2010   12:26:50 AM
    My mom died in 1993 from breast cancer and I still can't talk about it. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with colon cancer. After surgery, I am cancer free although I also had to have a hysterectomy this past year. I am now eating healthier, cutting down on fat and try not to digest cholesterol . I have also increase my fiber. Now if I could just drink water and exercise... - 4/22/2010   12:24:04 AM
  • 15
    My mother had lung cancer, though she was in remission when she passed away, it was still complications from too many years of smoking, she also had COPD. I quit smoking myself 6 1/2 years ago, hardest thing I have ever done, but also the one thing I take most pride in. - 4/22/2010   12:08:20 AM
    Yes, my mother had Pancreatic Cancer, unfortunately, she lost the battle. She did live 27 months with it though. I miss Mamma a lot! - 4/21/2010   10:50:21 PM
  • LEGALMOM1504
    I was diagnosed with a sarcoma tumor in 2007. I had never even heard of it, but it is a tumor that grows anywhere in the soft tissues of the body. Mine happened to be in my left calf. Fortnately, after two successful surgeries, I only had to endure one 8 week series of radiation treatments. No chemo. I was lucky. I do get regular screenings every three months at Moffitt Cancer Center. Aside from fluid build up in my leg and tenderness I have very little discomfort. If you are concerned about even the smallest symptom or spot on your body, GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR. Cancer can grow and spread quickly. Early detection and prevention are Key. This is one of my motivators in health and nutrition. Obesity can be a contributing factor in cancer and the more risk factors I can eliminate, the better! - 4/21/2010   10:02:21 PM
    I hope and pray that someday a cure will be found. God Bless all who have felt the pain of having cancer or have lost family or have to watch them suffer their fight with this wicked desease. - 4/21/2010   9:59:26 PM
  • 11
    one of my second cousins passed away when she was only 14, from leukemia. my sister is in remission from skin cancer. my grandmother and another second cousin both passed away from breast cancer. i make sure to get the screenings and tests done by my doctor yearly. i make sure to take care of myself and i remind my family to do the same. - 4/21/2010   9:39:31 PM
  • 10
    I lost a dear friend to ovarian cancer a few years ago. She never told me. I found out when I sent her a birthday card and her niece wrote back. - 4/21/2010   9:34:46 PM
  • 9
    My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery October 28, 2009. He goes for a PSA count every three months and so far every thing is looking better. I still worry every day and hope it is gone completely. - 4/21/2010   9:00:03 PM
  • 8
    My dear freind Renee has cancer. She's been fighting & doing the best she can. I've lost family members due to cancer. Lung cancer risk was one of the reasons I stopped smoking years ago. I do to to get screenings and be healthy. I don't use tanning beds either. My husband knew of a young girl(20's) who developed skin cancer from tanning beds, & lost her battle with it. I feel we all should be careful, & take every precaution we can. - 4/21/2010   8:47:07 PM
  • PRESHA911
    One of my loved ones is battling lung cancer now. (She is a nonsmoker.) I make sure to get all of my health screenings as recommended. - 4/21/2010   8:25:41 PM
  • 6
    My husband died 14 years ago, he was only 38! Friday night I will walk in Relay for Life. My hope is no other family member goes through this. - 4/21/2010   8:20:39 PM
  • 5
    My nephew is a cancer survivour. When he was 18 months old he was diagnosed with a rabdomyo sarcoma (a soft tissue cancer mostly found in adults) that started in a birth mark on his heel. Shortly before his 2nd birthday he had surgery to amputate his leg just below the knee and started on a very agressive chemotherapy. We were told his chances of survival were about 3% and my sister was advised to plan his funeral.

    Through the use of experimental treatments he beat the dismal odds and has lived life to the fullest by playing soccer, football and track and field. He is now going to be 19 in July and other than his prostetic and some biopsy scars (it had spread to a small spot on one lung and one kidney) you would never know he was ever sick.

    Every day we are thankful for the Canadian Cancer Society and all the support they lend to the families and getting money for research because without their research my nephew probably wouldn't have survived.

    My paternal Grandma died from a brain tumour and we have several other relatives that have passed on from bone cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, leukemia, breast, ovarian and uterian cancers.

    However I don't get regular screenings and as an almost 40 year old woman I know I should but I keep procrastinating and before I know it another year has come and gone. I know that I should especially with the family history. I will have to suck it up and get it done. - 4/21/2010   7:52:37 PM
  • 4
    Our son died of a brain tumor at age 18. Both of my in-laws died from cancers, one with breast and lung, the other with colon cancer. Too many of my friends to count have battled breast cancer and one has ovarian. - 4/21/2010   7:17:28 PM
  • 3
    My brother in law is battling a rare from of pancreatic cancer. His spirit is not dampened and he is serving as such an inspiration to us! - 4/21/2010   6:17:20 PM
  • 2
    My mother just passed away on Jan. 23, 2010 at the age of 54 from uterin cancer that spread before they got to it. It spread to her colon, bowels and lungs. I HATE CANCER it took my best friend, my nurse, my teacher, my mentor, my hero...MY MOTHER!!! - 4/21/2010   5:50:03 PM
  • 1
    My boss died from cancer. So did two aunts and three of my uncles. Two of my sisters, my daughter, and my mother have been treated for cancer. I'm waiting. I get the screenings and test done as the come due, but I am not chasing any rainbows about it. I already know what the survival rate is and am very aware that risk factors run in our family. - 4/21/2010   5:08:05 PM

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