Cancer. The word itself sounds like something toxic—something that we want to destroy the minute we see it. It devastates so many families and ends so many lives; yet let us take a step back. While millions of people have been affected by cancer, we as humans are not weak. We are not fragile and we will NOT take this diagnosis lying down. That is right. This is the time to get empowered and fight back. Get up and show me your tough face because you if you are in the fight, you are going to win! All of us are in fight at one point in our lives. It may be our parents, aunts or uncles, siblings or close friends. Cancer doesn’t discriminate against age or race, wealth or status—but this a fight we can come out of with a victory.
I am blessed to not be affected with cancer in my own life. I lost my maternal grandmother to brain cancer, however, when I was only 17 years old. It was the worst day of my life. I still have vivid memories of her and many things still remind me of her. According to cancer.org, a million people a year get cancer. 1,000,000 people. Luckily, many people go on from their cancer battles to live normal, healthy lives. It’s a difficult journey to be on, and it’s important to understand the causes of cancer if we’re going to rally scientists to find a cure. While these causes vary with each cancer, it is important to acknowledge them.
First, there is no denying our genetic makeup, of which we get from our parents. We all get half our genes from our mother and the other half from our father. It is not up to us which genes they pass onto us at the time of conception; we just have to make the best of the situation. Researchers have discovered tumor suppressor genes, which are often linked to specific cancers. These genes are mutated, which means they grow uncontrollably within the body. For women, you want to look out for germline mutations BRCA1 or BRCA2, which could be linked to breast and ovarian cancers.
Diet and physical exercise are another key factor in what helps attract or prevent cancer for the body. Researchers have determined that physical exercise helps control body weight and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints. In essence, a healthy diet and exercise helps maintain high blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease or premature death. With all this aside, the risk of cancer is also much lower. Let us really face the facts. If you have a lower body weight, then you are going to have less fat on your body. You are going to fight off disease better, which makes your fight against cancer much stronger. Your body is going to have a built-up immune system and high metabolism. You should not be at risk as long as you keep up this healthy lifestyle.
Also, be careful how much time you spend in the sun because it may put you at risk for skin cancer. Let us pause here for a moment. In recent articles, I have driven home how excellent sunlight is, but I also say everything in moderation. Those that are at risk are people that stay out for prolonged periods of time. These are people such as farmers, landscapers and so on who do not take frequent breaks from the sunlight. Some of the ultraviolet rays from the sun soak into tissues directly below the surface of your skin. This often results in a sunburn, aging of the skin and eventually skin cancer.
If you must be out in the sun, then try to wear some protection. Consider wearing an oversized sun hat to keep the sun out of your face. You may also want to carry sunscreen in your purse or bag and reapply it often. Also, use caution. It’s not necessary the temperature that you have to worry about on the hottest of days. Most of the time what pushes the heat up is the humidity and whether or not there is enough cloud cover. If you live near a lake or a pool, these might be great days to enjoy the summer sun while splashing in the water.
Finally, most of realize that alcohol and tobacco lead to most cancers. Alcohol raises your chances of developing kidney and stomach cancers. Similarly, tobacco puts you at risk for mouth, lung and other debilitating cancers. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death among men and women. In fact, 80% of the deaths from women are caused by smoking. Other cancers caused by smoking are bladder cancer, leukemia, stomach cancer and pancreas cancer. All of these would be encouragement for me to quit smoking. Our time on earth is precious, and this doesn’t seem like a fabulous way to spend it.
Let us not allow cancer to win the fight. We are much better than that. While researchers work endlessly to find a cure, cancer continues to take those we love. The best thing we can do is live the best life possible. This means eating fresh fruits and veggies, fresh meats and dairy. It is important to cut out the bad fats and preservatives that are often found in freezer and packaged foods. Also, get lots of exercise. It does not have to be extreme—something as simple as an evening walk will get you healthy if you make it a routine. You may also sin up for zumba or walk the treadmill if that is more your style. The point is, you are making an effort to better your health. In the end, you’re going to have a clean bill of health. And finally, wear a sunhat or limit your time in the sun to about 30 minutes. Let us get tough against cancer and show it our true warrior spirit!