Guest Author - Charlene Ashendorf
FACT: Every 60 seconds someone dies from cancer -- and every three minutes, someone new is diagnosed with cancer. That someone could even be you.
The Big “C” Courage and Cancer
Everyday, whether we are aware of it or not, we stare into the eyes of courage. As you look into the eyes of the husband, whose head hangs low while sharing the loss of a wife of 49 years to colon cancer, those are eyes of courage. Talking with a mother whose son is dying of throat cancer you see her weak eyes of courage struggling for answers to the question, why? The courageous eyes of the son who is reaching for strength and support as he fights the battle with his father who is rapidly succumbing to brain cancer; he grows weary with decisions he is ill-prepared to make.
The months of October brings a heightened sense of attention to cancer with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons, walk-a-thons, along with local and national events bring thousands of people to the platform through partnerships with hundreds of groups. But what lies beyond a dedicated month of social concern?
And what is this disease that takes many shapes and is known by many names: Carcinoma, Malignancy, Neoplasms, Tumors; Cancer.
Your body is always forming new cells to replace old cells that die. But when this process goes wrong – new cells growing even if your body doesn’t need them, or old cells that do not die when they should; what results is a mass or a tumor. Simply put these tumors can be benign or noncancerous or malignant. They tumors can invade body tissue and even break away and spread which is called metastasis.
The U.S. government is the largest funder of cancer research. With more than 10 years of cancer research behind us and over $1.7 billion spent on research cancer continues to be a challenge. And even so, it is estimated that 1.5 million people worldwide will be diagnosed with breast cancer next year.
We know that some cancers are caused by things people do like smoking. But not everyone who smokes gets cancer and not everyone who suffers from lung, mouth or throat cancer has ever smoked. These are challenges we face.
One third of cancer is related to obesity, nutrition and physical inactivity. And even though there are linkages to these as causes, the exact reasons remain unclear. These are the challenges we face.
Treatments for cancer vary from radiation to chemotherapy and they are challenging. And while cancer prevention is challenging the best possible defense is early detection and cancer screening exams. Today a majority of insurance carriers cover these important screenings.
69 percent of cancer deaths occur among the senior population. According to Manuela Medeiros, R.N., M.S.N. for patient services at USC/Norris “Elderly patients have many needs that differ from other cancer patients, including increased levels of support in the hospital and in the community.” Seniors must be vigilant for warning signs including lumps, moles, sores that do not heal, changes in bowel movements of urination, difficulty in swallowing or extreme fatigue.
Cancer will continue to be a disease we will battle, but we must battle courageously and fight for the cure.