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My brother in law worked a career as a UPS driver, and was an antiques-collector, football enthusiast, and friend to many in his spare time. Spending so many years bending, crouching, lifting heavy parcels, climbing in and out of a truck, and being on his feet constantly left a toll on his body so he took time off for work-related surgeries and recovery. He had noticed back pain as well as a few other bodily changes, but attributed them to his age—he turned 51 last year—and the strain of physical labor. One day the pain became so severe that his sister convinced him to go to the hospital. A few tests, some blood work, and one specific word: “Cancer.”
It’s a word that changes lives forever. For some, cancer is a slow process. The cancer might respond to treatment or be slow growing. Surgery may be an option. For my brother in law, this was not the case. By the time his cancer was detected it had metastasized to his liver and bones. In spite of medical treatments, within five months the cancer took his life.
Many of you can relate. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control list cancer as the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States. But Prevent Cancer Foundation says that only about 5% of cancers are actually hereditary. Breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, oral, prostate, skin and testicular cancers can be prevented through lifestyle changes or early detection and treatment. The research shows that what we eat and drink, the amount of physical exercise we engage in, and environment strongly impact our risk for cancer. Therefore, we can greatly improve our chances to live cancer-free lives by specific changes and choices, along with regular medical check ups.
What are your risks? A family history of cancer, workplace hazards, products or treatments that may contain cancer causing chemicals, and excessive or routine sun exposure are potential cancer risks. Knowing your risks can be your guide to schedule screenings appropriately and make specific changes. My brother in law found out after his diagnosis that his grandmother had died from the same cancer he was diagnosed with. Because he was unaware, he never sought early screening. If you know you are at risk or have already been diagnosed, see a specialist right away— don’t wait. Find out your treatment options and choose the care that is best for you. Don’t be afraid of medical care. Accepting help is not a death sentence—it’s a choice to be proactive and fight for your health. For individuals who need additional care beyond treatments and doctor visits, hospice care is also a great option. A parent, spouse or other family member may not possess the skills or strength to care for a person who is unwell. A hospice care worker is specifically trained for this type of patient care.
The risk of cancer can significantly decrease if we arm ourselves with research, healthy lifestyle choices, and early screenings. Be aware and be well in the fight against cancer, friends.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.