Saturday, October 29, 2011

Its not just one cancer

Yesterday I posted about thyroid cancer, my other cancer. Elisa left me a comment which I found very appropriate:

"We must be reminded that everyday people of this society is fighting a different kind of cancer battle. May this month be not just a reminder of Breast Cancer awareness but everyday reminder that cancer is just there and we need to be aware of that, whatever it may be."

She raises the very good point that every day people are coping with cancer and not just breast cancer and not just in October. While breast cancer is the most common cancer for women, it is not the only cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 1.6 million cases of cancer in the US in 2011 and 572,000 deaths. Of these 233,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed and 40,000 deaths from breast cancer. While it is a little early in the day for complicated math (no coffee yet either), I can guess its somewhere around 1/8 of all cancer diagnoses are breast cancer and less than 1/10 of all deaths will be due to breast cancer.

That leaves a lot of other people with other kinds of cancer. There are more cases of prostate cancer in the US than breast cancer and lung cancer still kills more in both sexes. While we now can safely say we have breast cancer awareness, we need more other cancer awareness.

Also, cancer is an every day, not just in October ailment. You don't really get a 'day off' with cancer. I mean you can have days where you don't have a doctor appointment but it never really goes away. You can meet people all the time who say 'after cancer, I have been much more vigilant about my health', or that they worry about recurrence or that they appreciate life more or that they try to eat right. Cancer has become a turning point in their lives which means they still remember it daily. It may have been a turning  point but it also looms over them.

Cancer is an every day, 24/7 ailment. There are many other ailments that fall into the same category - diabetes, MS, etc. It becomes part of your life forever, not just one month of the year.

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