February is usually called “The Love Month.” After all, the Hallmark holiday is working overtime to put out all the cheesy that hide in dark closets for most of the year. But Valentine’s is a ways away, and there is something more serious that we have to address today instead. Valentine’s can wait, lovelies, this one — it can, but why wait?
Let’s talk about the big “C” word.
Cancer is a big deal. It’s the sickness that takes away so many loved ones in the worst possible ways, because truly, isn’t it terrifying, waiting day in and day out, knowing that death will come to you in a matter of time?
Cancer can take away so much, in such a short amount of time. Nobody can say that having cancer won’t be that bad, because there are hundreds of types, and they’re not all curable.
We watched it on Love Story. Then again on A Walk to Remember. Then My Sister’s Keeper. And soon, in TFiOS.
Hazel Grace said in TFiOS, “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities,” and “There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get.”
Here’s the TFiOS Trailer:
If you read the book, you will know how heartbreaking it is, to have someone be taken from you in the form of cancer, but TFiOS, no matter how good of a book, is fiction, and there are so many more things about cancer that we all have to know.
So to mark World Cancer Day, here are some facts about cancer that we should all be aware of, as noted by the World Health Organization:
There are more than 100 types of cancers; any part of the body can be affected.
In 2008, 7.6 million people died of cancer – 13% of all deaths worldwide.
About 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Worldwide, the 5 most common types of cancer that kill men are (in order of frequency): lung, stomach, liver, colorectal and oesophagus.
Worldwide, the 5 most common types of cancer that kill women are (in the order of frequency): breast, lung, stomach, colorectal and cervical. In many developing countries, cervical cancer is the most common cancer.
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world causing 22% of cancer deaths.
One fifth of all cancers worldwide are caused by a chronic infection, for example human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes liver cancer.
Cancers of major public health relevance such as breast, cervical and colorectal cancer can be cured if detected early and treated adequately.
All patients in need of pain relief could be helped if current knowledge about pain control and palliative care were applied.
More than 30% of cancer could be prevented, mainly by not using tobacco, having a healthy diet, being physically active and moderating the use of alcohol. In developing countries up to 20% of cancer deaths could be prevented by immunization against the infection of HBV and HPV.
These are the facts.
Unfortunately, people don’t remember much about facts, and dwell instead on myths. Myths that are in no way found to be true.
Here are the myths about cancer that World Cancer Day aims to eradicate:
Myth 1: We don’t need to talk about cancer.
Wrong. Cancer diagnosis is life-changing for most people, and talking about it can be important in the coping process. There are some societies that consider talking about cancer a taboo, but this negative perception can cause cancer patients to feel invisible and scared, thereby stifling information, which hinder awareness about prevention and the importance of early detection. Investing in prevention and early detection by accepting the existence of cancers and talking about it, is cheaper by a wide margin, so making it a non-taboo subject matter will give people courage to seek for quality care access earlier on.
Myth 2: There are no signs or symptoms of cancer.
Not true in all cases. Although not all cancers have known signs and symptoms, this is not true for breast, cervical, prostate, skin, oral, colorectal, and several other childhood cancers —- these can be detected early on. However, a lack of investment in cancer care, especially in the primary health care level, lead to late diagnosis and treatment.
Myth 3: There is nothing I [we] can do about cancer.
Not true in all types of cancers. The condition in which people live influence their health and quality of life. Although some types of cancers cannot be stopped, living health can significantly lower an individual’s risk for the disease. For instance, tobacco is linked to 71% of deaths from lung cancer, and accounts for at least 22% of all other cancer deaths.
Myth 4: I [We] don’t have the right to cancer care.
Not true, cancer care is much of a right as access to other healthcare services is. There is a large disparity in the outcome of cancer in the developed and developing countries. This is because there is lack of awareness, resources, and access to affordable and quality care that cancer patients in developing worlds suffer unnecessarily. Globally, more than a billion people cannot use the services they need mostly because they are not able to afford them. The UN Political Declaration acknowledges the additional burden in developing countries and now recognizes the importance of universal coverage in health systems through primary health care and social protection to provide services for all. Cancer care access is a matter of social justice, so take what is yours, you have the right to cancer care.
Learn more about cancer myths and the evidences against them from the World Cancer Day website.
Or Download the information sheets here:
Sign the declaration for cancer awareness here to help bring the growing cancer crisis to the attention of government leaders and health policymakers in order to significantly reduce the global cancer burden by 2025.
Or post these on your social media profile to help raise awareness:
Let us do our part in raising cancer awareness. Who knows how many lives can be saved by proper information dissemination alone. Let us give the chance for everyone to have larger infinities, because everyone deserves to have more number of days on their unbounded sets, to spend with people they love.