World Cancer Day: Dispelling Misconceptions. Debunking Myths
“I keep dreaming of a future, a future with a long and healthy life, not lived in the shadow of cancer but in the light.” Patrick Swayze
Today is World Cancer Day and WorldCancerDay.Org wants to not only increase our awareness of this insidious disease, but to also help us dispel misconceptions and myths we might have about it. At some point in our lives, many of us will either know someone, a family member, a friend/co-worker, battling cancer or know someone who lost their life to cancer. In some cases, we might be the ones battling some form of the disease. Fortunately, there continues to be an enormous push to shine a light, raise funds and educate people about cancer.
Every year, people from all walks of life participate in events that help raise funds for research. In case you are wondering how this special day started: World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. This year, for World Cancer Day, WorldCancerDay.Org has chosen to help us debunk 4 myths about the disease. If you didn’t have to look at the myths on this page, would you be able to name/guess one?
Dispelling Misconceptions & Debunking Myths About Cancer:
Myth 1: We don’t need to talk about cancer: When someone we know announces that they have been diagnosed with cancer, there is a tendency for some to either head for the hills or change the subject. Talking about it won’t make it contagious or quicken the demise of our loved ones, yet some feel uncomfortable broaching the subject. It’s important to have an open conversation about the disease and, if we are caregivers, to discuss the ramifications and impact it might have on income, benefits and additional expenses. In the workplace, it is imperative to offer support and suggest ways to shift responsibilities to others. Ignoring the topic is not the best approach. Conversations about body image and sexual well being are equally important and shouldn’t be swept under the rug.
Myth 2: There are no signs or symptoms of cancer: While there are some forms of cancer, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancers, that are not easily detectable because they don’t show early signs, there are other forms of cancer; skin and breast, throat and others that give warning signs and symptoms. Some of us might also be genetically predisposed to specific types of cancers because we carry genetic markers in our DNA. If we avail ourselves of all the preventative health resources in our health plans, and get regular check ups, we will benefit from the early detection of any cell abnormalities or growths. Researchers in the field agree that early detection increases our chances of survival.
“Cancer affects all of us, whether you’re a daughter, mother, sister, friend, coworker, doctor, patient.” Jennifer Aniston
Myth 3: There is nothing I can do about cancer: If we make changes to our lifestyle: foods we eat, reduction in stress, lower exposure to carcinogens, stop smoking and incorporate healthier habits, we can do something about cancer. World Cancer Day.org, points out that The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 177,000 cancer deaths each year are related to occupational exposure to selected carcinogens, with one in every three deaths estimated to be caused by asbestos. Also, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light rays can contribute to skin cancer. Starting a regular exercise regimen, eating healthy foods; fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods and getting regular check-ups can help deter the onset of certain types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy mental, emotional and physical state can help our bodies stay well. With regular effort and education, we can change.
Myth 4: I don’t have the right to cancer care: While disparities exist in the kind of treatment people receive, everyone should have access to effective cancer treatments and services. In developed countries, we have legislative and voting power to bring about change in medical care and we must speak out to ensure care is given. Sadly, the poor bear the greater burden of inadequate treatment and as WorldCancerDay.org points out, “Over 85% of the 275,000 women who die every year from cervical cancer are from developing countries. More than 70% of the 160,000 newly diagnosed cases of childhood cancer worldwide each year lack access to effective treatment. ” This is terrible news and we can help change it.
What can we do about it? We can donate our resources to help others, we can participate in fundraisers and special runs, we can reach out to our elected officials and, frankly, we can see to it that the benefits of the Affordable Care Act provide equitable resources to all. What are your thoughts?
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Positive Motivation Tip: The best way to be an attentive friend is to offer support and advice at all times. Do not walk away. Lend a sympathetic ear.
PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos from Wikipedia, or my Personal Collection.