The dreaded "C" word and the inspiring "C" word

February 11, 2017

"Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. "
-Jim Valvano

Cancer Cancer is often a death sentence. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Many do survive and defeat cancer, so a diagnosis doesn’t mean a 100% death sentence.

Those who do eventually succumb to the dreaded disease often have to face tremendous adversity, and I have been reading and learning about their stories and the battles they go through for many years.

People who are fighting cancer can be branded with another "C" word and that word is courage. It takes tremendous courage be given X amount of months or years to live by medical professionals, and to have to face day after day this diagnosis while continuing to be a wife/husband/father/mother/best friend and co-worker.

The statistics on cancer diagnosis throughout the world are pretty staggering and very depressing.

Cancer statistics at a glance (from the website)

  • In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease.
  • The most common cancers in 2016 are projected to be breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, bladder cancer, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid cancer, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, leukemia, endometrial cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
  • The number of new cases of cancer (cancer incidence) is 454.8 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2008-2012 cases).
  • The number of cancer deaths (cancer mortality) is 171.2 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2008-2012 deaths).
  • Cancer mortality is higher among men than women (207.9 per 100,000 men and 145.4 per 100,000 women). It is highest in African American men (261.5 per 100,000) and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women (91.2 per 100,000). (Based on 2008-2012 deaths.)
  • The number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis reached nearly 14.5 million in 2014 and is expected to rise to almost 19 million by 2024.
  • Approximately 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2010-2012 data).
  • In 2014, an estimated 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 died of the disease.
  • National expenditures for cancer care in the United States totaled nearly $125 billion in 2010 and could reach $156 billion in 2020.

There is a great chance that either you, someone in your family, a co-worker or a friend will be diagnosed with cancer within your lifetime. Most people already know someone who has been diagnosed. Some survive and get rid of cancer, but a lot of people don't make it. That is just the reality of this disease. Cancer can be a cruel unforgiving relentless beast.

Cancer doesn't discriminate either. Black, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic or Indian. Young or old. Obese or in perfect shape. It doesn't matter to cancer what or who you are.

I can remember the first time I had heard of cancer. I was a just a young boy growing up in a small town in Virginia. Our neighbors across the street would take care of myself and my sister when my parents were away. They were a nice older couple and as I recall both were frequent smokers. The husband had cancer, and as a family, we visited him frequently in the hospital. He passed away after a few visits and that was the first person I knew to pass away from cancer, but certainly not the last.

Since my initial introduction to cancer as a child, I have had a few friends/acquaintances pass away from cancer and I currently have a friend/family member battling the dreaded disease. I highly admire the courage that one must go through dealing with cancer. First the diagnosis, dealing with chemotherapy, possibly with hair loss and loss of weight. Feeling tired all of the time and still be able to do your job, or be a key member of your family is certainly admirable.

In June of 2017, a friend and father of my two nieces and one nephew, and husband to my sister passed away from Cancer at an early age. Rest in Peace, Brian Cummings. You fought a courageous battle with Cancer and you will always be remembered as a great friend, husband and father.

Inspiring stories of courage

I am always interested in reading or watching online, the stories of those who are battling cancer. What they go through is amazing and everyone should be inspired by their stories of hope and courage. Here are just a few stories that I have enjoyed reading, watching and learning more about over the years. I highly recommend reading or watching to learn more about these amazing stories of struggles with cancer.

Finding a cure for cancer

I'm not sure if there will be a cure for cancer in my lifetime or in younger generations lifetime either. I think we are getting closer though. I base this on the continued effort of researchers and medical professionals, and through efforts such as the cancer moonshot. Every effort should be made to find a cure to the dreaded "C" word and until that happens let's all admire the other "C" word that cancer patients embody and that is courage.

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