April is National Cancer Control Month

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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Yes, my husband had surgery for prostate cancer 3 years ago, skin cancer has affected him, my dad, and my grandfather. I have 2 aunts treated for breast cancer and have had 2 uncles die of pancreatic cancer, and 1 uncle die of lung cancer. The uncles all smoked at some point in their life. The skin cancer was exacerbated by living at high altitude.
We do regular screenings and currently all who have been treated are doing well. Report
I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 34. When I became ill in July 2009, the last words that I expected to here were, "You have cancer". We really need to push for more screening. If caught early enough, most types of cancer are completely curable. I have to live with mine. I think of it as a chronic illness instead of a :death sentence". Staying positive makes all the difference in the world. Report
In April, I signed up for a colonoscopy & a mammogram but the actual tests won't be till June. Does that mean more people are getting wise enough to schedule these tests? I hope so! Report
I have survived being a caregiver for both of my parents who died of cancer. 1995: My dad was 44, he died 2 years & 5 days after finding out he had esophageal cancer which had been misdiagnosed a year prior. 2008: My mom was 57, she died 361 days after being diagnosed with colon cancer and appendecele cancer. All 4 of my grandparents have had cancer: breast, prostate, and bladder. Today, I have 3 friends who are kicking cancer's butt...uterine cancer, 36 years old; brain cancer for the second time, 35 years old; and my dear friends 1 year old baby with a VERY rare form of luekemia had a bone marrow transplant on 4/21.
I am fearful of cancer. I had a lymphectomy in November, it was benign, but it was found by a baseline mammogram. I joined sparkpeople and have started living a healthier lifestyle to beat my cancer odds. If I end up with cancer, it won't be because I didn't try to do everything I could to stop it! I miss my mom & dad everyday. They with my children are a constant reminder of why I will try my best to do everything I can to avoid being a cancer victim! Good luck to all of the cancer survivors and their caregivers! Report
Regular checkups and tests are always a very good idea. I have lost several family members and friends to cancer, and it's a terrible, horrible disease - sometimes even diligence is not helpful enough to stop it in time.

"Many health care providers now recommend that once a woman hits age 40 she should start receiving a yearly or bi-yearly mammogram..."

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has suggested that routine mammogram screenings shouldn’t begin until age 50, and then every other year after that. (I would NOT EVER leave out the self-exams, though, despite some recommendations to the contrary! No one else can know your own body like you can, if you pay attention to it!)

There is ample evidence to indicate that the radiation from frequent mammograms can also CAUSE breast cancer. There are now several safer new screening technologies in development or preliminarily available, such as breast infrared thermography, ultrasound, optical mammography (using light) and even a blood test to detect initial presence of anomalies. (Information on all of these is available on the internet.)

I am encouraged that it appears there may finally be other, safer diagnostic alternatives to radiation available soon. If your doctor has not heard of these, enlighten them and enlist them in pursuing their availability! Report
My maternal grandfather died of lung cancer while in his 70's...living only 3 months after being diagnosed with the cancer. Aunt Reva (my Mother's younger sister) died of cancer after a couple years of battling the disease. Then my Mother was diagnosed with colon chancer on November 11 and died at 2 am on Christmas morning 1994. I still miss her but am happy that she didn't suffer like my Aunt Reva. As a result, I get regular mammograms and colonoscopies. And since joining SparkPeople, I eat much healthier foods. Report
I lost both of my parents to lung cancer within 5 years of each other. One of my friends had a bone marrow transplant and is a survivor of cancer. Another friend of mine is currently fighting breast cancer and has 5 children from college age on down. It was such a shock to find out but she's fighting it with all she has. Report
I had a triple biopsy last year and a slew of test to go along with it. In the end I came up clear but that was a very difficult time in my life as we had lost my maternal grandmother to breast cancer many years ago.. I hope many more people take the time to test and hope they too will come out clear. Report
Keep going. Report
I am a 12-year breast cancer survivor, diagnosed at 46. For those of you reading this who feel they are not at risk because no one else in the family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you are fooling yourself.

I am the only one in my family to have breast cancer. My maternal grandmother had colon cancer, but there are no other cancers in the family.

I found a lump, had a mammogram that was "indeterminate" meaning that they couldn't say for sure what it was. My choice at the time was either to wait 6 months and have another mammogram, or have a biopsy. I chose to be proactive and have the biopsy right away. It was cancer, and had already spread to the lymph nodes. Fortunately, it was treatable by a lumpectomy, chemo, and radiation. I never miss a mammogram.

Be proactive and get your mammograms, and do your monthly self-exams. If you find ANYTHING out of the ordinary, see your doctor, and insist on a mammogram.
My husband just finished radiation treatment for prostate cancer on Wednesday. Our family physician was proactive and insisted on a biopsy when his PSA level rose to 2.6, the new threshold. He had a lot of cancer, according to the oncologist. He's still in his 50's and most of the men being treated were much older, but we're so thankful that our doctor made that call! He's survived a malignant melanoma in his mid-20's and many basal cell carcinomas over the years. So much money goes into cancer research. It's amazing that we're so far from curing this terrible disease. Report
As I was reading these postings my heart was breaking my eyes were tearing up , and then I bacame angry. I HATE CANCER. Yes I am a survivor, I had my prostate removed robotically in October of 08. It was then I deceided to fight and beat the crap out of cancer every day. My whole lifestyle changed , I thank God for each and every morning for this second chance on life. If I see someone with a t-shirt at the gym or out walking that has the American Cancer Logo or pink ribbons I try to engage them in conversation. I show them the ultimate respect weather they are a survivor, care-giver or a person who just cares. Once those three words are said to you ( you have cancer ) your life will never be the same. My life has changed for the "good". Report
I am 45 years old and regularly get screened for breast cancer and cervical cancer. I also have had a couple colonoscopies done. I have a strong family history of colon cancer both my paternal grandmother and my dad have died of colon cancer. I have known many women with breast cancer as well. Report
A very special man in my life was just recently diagnosed with osteosarcoma. He is in treatment, but there is a definite possibility he will lose his leg to save his life. He is in the Navy, like myself, and is a very active person, one of the best and most kind people I know. This was a blow to us all as it came from out of nowhere.

I also lost most of the women on my mum's side to skin cancer, so I am very protective of my own skin and exposure to the sun. Report
Had my colon test done & I'm just FINE.
I dont have to go back for 10yrs!!
I'm a cancer survivor (Cervical 3 times!).
YES I do pray a cure can be found in ALL cancer can be GONE!!
I have lost many of family memebers to cancer & many very close friends.
ALL gone too soon. Report
I have had several relatives who've died because of cancer. One uncle passed away from pancreatic cancer. An uncle who never smoked a day in his life died of lung cancer. A cousin had brain cancer. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor.

I make sure I am screened regularly. Fortunately, I am very healthy, but I still have to be careful since my family is high risk. Report
One week ago today, I lost my dear Grandmother to ovarian cancer which inevitably spread to her stomach, spleen and liver. She fought and battled for a year and a half and made it to my sister's wedding in December. It was very difficult to watch her go through this, after seeing my Grandfather succumb to pancreatic cancer 12 years ago. So many in my family have been affected by this disease, but I am proud to say that my Aunt, my Grandmother's daughter, is currently in remission from her own bout with ovarian cancer. We are praying that her cancer marker number stays down!
I am also excited because knowing all that this disease has taken from my family, we still have hope! I recently won the Lehigh Valley Idol Competition (a regional singing competition in Pennsylvania) and will be working with the American Cancer Society as almost a "spokesperson" for them and will be doing many events/Relay for Life's in the area to help raise awareness about cancer, as well as opportunities to lower the numbers of people getting cancer and up the numbers of people taking action in their own lives to prevent it.
Bless you for posting this and keeping us all aware of what is going on this month! Report
My aunts breast cancer returned a little over a year ago. She has been in experimental treatment. I really admire her for her strength. She also joined Sparks for healthy living ideas. Today may be Earth Day but for me it is the day my mother passed away from her long 5 yr battle with neck cancer. All your kids miss you Mom. Love you! xoxo Report
My mom is going through chemo treatments right now for breast cancer and my brother passed away 10 years ago at the age of 40 with a brain tumor. I've had a few scares myself and luckily the breast biopsies have all been negative. I am very diligent about monthly breast exams and yearly mammograms as well as the dreaded yearly physical. Report
I have a dear friend who was diagnosed a few years ago. Not sure if he's in denial or just prefers not to talk about it. I ask him how he's doing and he always say fine. He had been dating however, when she found out, she didn't want to deal with it as she had been there for her dad and brother. I felt, what better person to be there for and if she really loved him, she'd rethink it. Well, I just told him , if he needs me, I'll be here. What else is there to do?! Report
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 (I am now 38). I have been battling it it ever since (I think I am on my 5th type of chemo now). Report
Hello Ladies,
I'm sorry to hear about you losing your loved to cancer. It's scary to hear those 3 words
" you have cancer".....I am a cancer survivor over 5years come May. I have had cancer 3 times. The time was when I was 19yrs old and it was on my cervix (1974) and the last time was in (2005) and at the age 40years old. That time I had it on my thyroid gland. I was lucky that I did not have to take chemo.I had my mammogram done on 4/2/2010 and results were clear.
My son's Grandma died in 1994 from cancer in her stomach and had spread to her brain. My Grandma had her(1968) in her spleen. sister-in-law (32yrs.old)and Mother-in-law did from theirs.
I hope someday they will have cure for cancer and stop the deaths from cancer. Report
I turn 51 next week, and I've out lived my father by 19 years. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall of '80 and died the next year. Several of my other friends have died from and/or survived skin cancer and/or breast cancer. We need a cure of ALL cancers!!! St Jude is working hard to find the cures! Report
My first husband, who was the love of my life, died of lung and liver cancer, at only 51 years, in 1998. I will miss him all of my life. He was the father of my two children. Cancer is a cruel disease. I pray someday, there will be a cure. Report
Thanks for the reminder. Report
my mother had colon cancer when she was 76. last month for her 86th birthday we also celebrated her 10th anniversary of being cancer-free !!!!
there are survivors of this dreaded disease so i always tell people there is always hope !!!! Report
I had stage 2 breast cancer at 47. My dad had two different types and died from lymphoma (very rare). His mom (my grandman) died of pancreatic cancer; his sister (my aunt) breast cancer. My mom's dad had prostate cancer and her brother died of lung cancer. My younger sister had thyroid cancer at 32.

I screen every year and I tell everyone I know to get their screenings. The sooner it is diagnosed, the better!! Report
I work in a very small office and a young, very healthy co-worker is battling non-hodgkins lymphoma. It is touching my lfe every single day. I have never been more aware of how crippling this disease is and how we need to work harder at erradicating cancer for all!! Report
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2008. That was about a month after I found this little website called Sparkpeople that was helping me lose weight, and I wasn't going to let cancer stop me! I continued Sparking during treatment and hit my goal weight in the middle of my chemo. My latest scans have been clean and I'm getting my port removed on April 29!! Report
Last year when my 24 yos, Nathan was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer (3 kinds of cancer cells and one was very aggressive), he had surgery the next day and then he had 4 rounds of Chemotherapy. Since then his tests have came back "clean." I will never forget his words to me as we left the doctor's office and he got into the car: "This is the worst day of my life!"
I remind him now, that no matter what he faces in his life, he knows he has already dealt with the WORST day.
He will continue to have follow-up testing for 10 years. Cancer is a horrible disease as it just doesn't care. Report
My 7 year old niece passed away in 2008 from bone cancer; her father, my brother battled oral cancer, had lympth nodes removed + skin cancer and so far is cancer free. Doesn't matter what form it is, it is such a terrible disease. Report
This is such an important health issue. Thank you for sharing this personal story. Report
Mom is 2 time breast cancer survivor, lost my Dad last year to lung cancer. I'm trying like crazy to get healthier, quit smoking 4 years ago. excercising more, losing weight and eating healthier. and trying to drag my Mom into it, but at almost 80, she has her ways. At least she's trying some of the healthier options now! Report
My partner's father passed away from Prostate Cancer, so he and his 4 brothers now go for regular screenings. My Mom had colon cancer but thank God it was caught early, so after surgery, she has survived, so I went for my test when I was 45 and I'm good for 5 years. Both Richard and I are under 50, so when it's in the family don't wait!!! Report
My first dealings with cancer was when my grandmother was diagnosised with ovarian cancer back in the 80s. I was in middle school and spent the summer with my grandparents to help my grandpa take care of my grandmother while under going radiation and chemo. It was a special time for me and she did beat that cancer into remission. She lived a long life until almost 80 when lung cancer took her. One of my favorite uncles from my dad's side had lung cancer and choose to spend time with all of this extended family that summer instead of prolonging life with treatment. He helped teach me how to drive that summer and brought laughter into our home. My dad had prostate cancer but so far its still in remission (thankfully and I make sure to speak with him every day!). The most recent occurence with cancer and most devastating to me so far, was back in 2006. My best friend of 30 years found out she had a rare form of breast cancer already in stage 4. She was 37 years old and had a 3 year old daughter and was trying to escape an abusive marriage. I did everything I could to help her and support her, yet she's still gone and the loss of her is with me every day. She was like my sister, cheerleader, and conscience. I speak with her every day in my prayers when I am outdoors walking. They all have taught me to value life and the little things. Tell those you truly love so each and every day so you don't live with regrets later. Report
In this world today who hasn't been affected by cancer? I lost my husband to a blood cancer, multiple myeloma, when he was only 41. Then about a year and a half ago my daughter was diagnosed with a rare but very aggressive breast cancer. She discovered it herself at an early stage and received treatment. At this point she is doing very well. Plus my sister in law is now battling double lung cancer, another rare form since she has never smoked or been around smokers. Cancer is all around us! Report
I to have blogged about my experience with my friend who has just won the battle with a rare form of Ovarian Cancer, in her falopian tube. She went thru a hysterectomy & chemo & a year later they found that they hadn't gotten it all, there was one stupid cell that didn't get distroyed! So, we've gone thru another round of chemo, last month they confirmed that they got it, but she's doing one more round of chemo to make sure it's all gone.
You know, I would laugh, about holding my friends hair when they puke, because they drank too much. It's different, when you are doing this because she's going thru chemo!
My Wonderful Grandma died in '81 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma & my dad had cancer in his tonsils. All of this has lead me to really research healthy ways to protect myself & motivated me to get healthy! Report
I was diagnosed with papilary thyroid cancer in 2008, I was 23 yrs. old. I had my thyroid gland removed and had radioactive iodine to kill any thyroid cells. Its been close to 2 yrs. after that, but it was an experiance, I dont wish to anybody. Report
At 16 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's B-Cell Lymphoma. I have been cancer free for 13 years now after going through 6 months of chemo. Both of my grandfathers died from cancer less than 10 years after my diagnosis. One died from a second fight from prostate cancer, the other one died from lung cancer that was detacted too late. I went through a scare a few months ago from possible cervical cancer which thankfully came back negative. Since my diagnosis at 16 I went to regular screenings when I was told to. I now only have to go when I feel something is a miss. However, I get yearly blood tests and if I feel the same type of chest pains I did when I was diagnosed with cancer I make sure to get a CT scan. My cancer was in my chest around my heart, lungs and arteries and I have so much scar tissue that an x-ray always comes back abnormal. Report
I was first diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2003; in 2007, it returned to my bones. I am now stage IV; I can't be cured, but so far my doctor has been able to keep it under control. I just started chemo again for the second time in 7 years.

I think it's great that the media is spreading the word about awareness and screenings, but I also think more attention needs to be brought to those of us who are stage IV, whose disease is past the point the being cured, but in some cases can be managed like a chronic disease. It's good to give people hope, but many times I feel the media gives a false sense of hope when it comes to cancer. Report
I am currently dealing with enlarged lymph nodes and just recently the tests showed a mass in my chest! Went for further testing and now am waiting for the results - all I know is the mass is bigger then they originally thought. My father and 2 of his brothers have cancer (bowel, prostate and lung) and several of my friends have breast cancer - Seems to surround me and I am trying to stay away from negative thoughts and live and eat clean! Report
Like so many others, I've lost a husband (brain cancer), a father (breast cancer, yes, men get this disease), a brother (colon cancer), and a grandmother (pancreatic cancer). My mother (colon cancer), my daughter (thyroid cancer) and myself (melanoma) are survivors.

The time has come to find the cure! Speak up! Speak out!
Raise awareness! Go to Livestrong.com and join your voice with theirs. Wear yellow! Let's get this done!
I have been very blessed & have not had any Cancer issues in my family. This is such a sad topic & read everyone's comments..so sorry for your losses! :( Report
I lost my mom to breast cancer two years ago yesterday and because of her cancer I am VERY proactive with my own health. I keep physically active, quit drinking alcohol for the most part, eat healthy and GET MY SCREENINGS DONE yearly. I will not ignore any symptoms that may develop like my mom did. Report
I have lost two grandparents and father-in-law to cancer of the lungs, brain, and liver. I now have an uncle who is battling liver cancer as well. I have a sister in law who is a breast cancer survivor too. What a dreaded disease and pray they can find a cure. Report
My mom and my grandmother both died of breast cancer. So, in a way, it was no surprise to me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago. In fact, the day I heard those words, "you have cancer", was the 21st anniversary of my mother's death from the disease. Talk about spooky!
Since then, I have been cancer free. I have had several close friends with cancer--one ovarian, one lung and one colon. Of the three, the friend who had lung cancer is no longer with us except in our hearts. A close friend's sister has just been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Even with all that baggage, it took my husband's heart attack last December to put us both on the straight and narrow. We are mindful of what we eat and both started exercising as of the first of the year. We have both lost 35 pounds. For my husband, that puts him in the normal range. For me, I still have another 85 pounds to go, but I know I will reach my goal.
In my spare time I knit hats for chemotherapy patients and am an organizer for the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Report
My maternal grandmother died from cancer in the 1970s (NOT breast cancer). My paternal grandfather died of a heart attack while in the hospital being treated for prostate cancer in 1979. My father was diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer over 10 years ago. Then a few years later colon cancer and now it is in his bones.

I had my first mamogram before the age of 40 as a base line, then yearly since 40. I had my first colonoscopy 2 years ago at the age of 42 and have to go again next year. They found benign pollops, but finding the pollops gives me a 3 year window instead of 5 until my next one. For me, I don't really belive it is an if, but a when where cancer is concerned. However, I will do what I can to help prevent it or at least postpone it as long as I can. Report
My daugher was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at age 10. She went through four rounds of chemo and 45 days of radiation. She is now in remission!!! Report
If you read my blogs, you will know that I help my mother every day as she has stage IV colon cancer. She has never smoked or drank alcohol...We are taking every day one day at a time. She is in good spirits most of the time and it is a joy and privilege to serve her. My sister in law was diagnosed yesterday with lung cancer. It is a 7 c melanoma already and is spreading fast and is facing both chemo and radiation. She weighs over 400 lbs. and it is the saddest thing. Yes...she smoked up until a few months ago and is the only one in both families who smokes. My husband has 9 sisters and this is the only one that is obese. It will be difficult taking care of her.....to say the least. You must think of those who will have to take care of you if you allow yourself to get this large. It is a tragedy for all concerned. Report
I am a two time cancer survivor and am very faithful to my checkups and healthcare. This is so important to for prevention and peace of mind. Report
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