Wednesday, January 25, 2012

So Hard to Quit Smoking, Even When You Have Cancer

Cancer Patients Still Smoking | Stronger Than Cancer

It makes me sad when I see those facing cancer unable to quit smoking. There is so much going on, we can't really blame them.

It's like the combination of an addictive drug, societies expectations, ego, emotions, the trauma of their diagnosis all teaming up against this person who needs strength and support. They are finding their support in cigarettes, and it is making them worse.

It is like all these factors have convinced the person to turn against himself and give into the cancer.

At one time, it was very hard for me to understand this.

I never smoked.

But having gone through the panic of cancer, I do understand how it becomes even harder to quit when you are in the midst of treatment.

There were many things that I knew I should be doing: exercise more, eat certain foods, etc, that I simply didn't have the energy, or more likely, mental capacity to begin until years after treatment was over.

Yes, I took baby steps. I did what I could. But we are in high stress survival mode. It would be like asking one of our troops at war to quit smoking while he's in the trenches. Sure, his health would improve, but 99.9% of his brain is focused on something else. It would probably take a few years after returning home from the war, when the soldier is able to shift his focus to the task of quitting smoking.

To those that do manage to quit - you are superstars!!

To those that can't - don't throw it away - keep it as a goal, even if you can't achieve it today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't Just Read The Warning Label - Know the Ingredients

Time For Some Anti-Cancer Housekeeping

I always have thought that I was careful to stick to brands that use quality ingredients, and that I use household products safely, but the more you learn, the more you realize, that we are surrounded by chemicals that can affect our health.

With cancer rates going up, even if you have no family history of cancer, watch out for chemicals and cancer-causing ingredients that don't come with a warning label.

It's not enough to read the label - you have to know what those ingredients are.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Read the Label - Even if You Have Cancer

Drug is still approved, but update that warning label to include a deadly brain infection...

Cancer drug gets stronger label warning | Stronger Than Cancer

Interestingly, when you are diagnosed with cancer, your doctor RARELY shows you the label, or even discusses the risks of the drugs that you take.

They will go over the side effects. A casual, "Well, you may experience some fatigue, or loss of appetite..." but unless you ask, they rarely will tell you, "..and it will increase your risk of heart disease, and leukemia, or a deadly brain infection..."

It is important that all patients ask for documentation about the drugs they are prescribed. Not just cancer drugs, but anything.

Amazingly, there are brand-name drugs for things like headaches, marketed directly to consumers, that require a prescription, that are NO better than ibuprofen, that have serious side effects.

It's up to the patient to determine if the risks outweigh the benefit of any drug.

Read labels. It's your body. Talk to your doctor about alternatives.

When you've made an informed decision to take a drug, then you can be sure that it is the best decision.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Teens Fighting Cancer

Teens Fighting Cancer | Stronger Than Cancer

As rates of cancer increase in the teen population, medical teams are faced with not just treating the cancer, but also the emotional challenges they face as they are preparing to enter the world.

I love the stories about the inner strength these teens have when faced with cancer, but it doesn't make the sad truth that cancer rates are going up any less disturbing.

Cancer rates among children and teens just don't go up for no reason. We can't blame this on smoking, or drinking, or poor lifestyle choices that erode health over time - they are directly responding to either 1) environmental toxins, or 2) the recent introduction of Genetically Engineered Foods that have become ubiquitous in the past decade.... or maybe it's because more and more children are put on medications just to get through the school-day.

Something is breaking down in their bodies. We can treat it, try to cure it, help them cope emotionally, hope they survive, but until we start to address the root causes (and maybe it's a combination of causes) we will continue to see more and more cases.

Time for policy change in the interest of public health.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There Won't Be a Single Cure for Cancer

Curing cancer: a reality check | Stronger Than Cancer

A great article, with the right perspective, and of course - it's from Canada. I don't know why organizations here can't publish thoughtful, realistic perspectives on the War on Cancer; it seems as though every article is just a promotion for drug companies, or fund raising for organizations looking for the "Cure".

There isn't going to be a single "Cure". There isn't going to be a cancer vaccine. There will be many ways to attack cancer - there already are many ways to attack cancer, many cancers respond to this, and many don't. We just need to move toward identifying the paths that will help us fight more and more cancers. Getting rid of cancer is going to be a long and slow process - but hopefully, with the right emphasis, it will be steady progress in the right direction.

But most important, for any of us who live outside the lab, and who aren't actively researching the 'cure' for each of these cancers, the point that was made - that we could cut cancer in HALF through prevention - is better than any treatments that are discovered for any particular type of cancer.

The article continues to list several lifestyle changes that can help prevent cancer - we also need to consider environmental causes and try to minimize that as well.

Begin with yourself, and your family, and your immediate environment to cut cancer rates. Then let's expand to our communities - reduce toxins from local industry, provide healthier foods in schools. And as a country we could do more - proper labeling or banning of GM foods, reduce (or eliminate) BPA packaging.

To me, this sounds more like a 'War on Cancer' than all the hundreds of targeted therapies we have yet to discover.