This weekend I made a road trip to Apollo Beach, Florida to visit one of my long time friends and her mother that just underwent a double mastectomy on the 23rd of April.  This got me thinking about other recent and not so recent cancer causing illnesses and deaths that have touched me all too often.  From both of my grandmothers having cancer, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends.  This illness does not discriminate.  Colon Cancer, Melanoma, Brain Tumors, Lung Cancer and Breast Cancer just to name a few.  Some of them caused by how you live your life and others caused just simply by genetics.  This pays homage to the old saying, “You never know”.  You never know when this will affect you or to what degree.

Here’s a little background on the topic.  Studies and statistics show that about 11.7 million people in the United States alone are living with or have had some type of cancer.  More than half of all men and one-third of all women are proven to develop cancer at some point in their life generally without any warning.  So what are the Top 10 most common types?  Let’s refer to the list –

  • Prostate Cancer – Most common cancer found in men
  • Breast Cancer – Most common cancer found in women, but it is not limited to just women.
  • Lung Cancer – There are 2 different types of lung cancer  – Small cell and non-small cell
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Melanoma – a/k/a Skin Cancer – This type of cancer typically begins in moles but is also said to be found in other pigmented parts of the body
  • Bladder Cancer – Most common type is Urothelial Carcinoma (f/k/a Transitional Cell Carcinoma)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Kidney Cancer – Most common type is Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Thyroid Cancer – Said to be the fastest increasing cancer among both men and women
  • Endometrial Cancer

There are so many treatment options now available for these types of cancer and resources and support systems for patients and families faced with this tough diagnosis.

Dr. Timothy Moynihan, Cancer Specialist with the Mayo Clinic writes about the most popular myths associated with the causes of cancer.  Interestingly, I have heard many of these myself.  From the simplest thing as “Good people don’t get cancer” to “Cancer is contagious” and let’s not forget the usage of a microwave oven.  Read his article by visiting the Mayo Clinic’s website.  The Mayo Clinic staff also provides a good resource of information on 7 Tips to reduce your risk.  This includes not using tobacco products, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, protection from the sun and immunizations just to name a few.

Having a healthy support system is not always an option for cancer patients, but in some cases, like my experiences with those touched by this diagnosis, support was outpouring.  While visiting my friend’s mother Susan this weekend, I found it to be one of the most amazing trips.  Not only had she just underwent her double mastectomy just a little under a week ago, but she had the most positive outlook on her future.  She was not rushing into get reconstruction, but rather focusing on the positive.  Yes, she had just lost both of her breasts and yes, society says that is unacceptable, but to her, she had just dodged her first run in with death up close and personal, in the face.  Susan has an amazing support system in her small community and neighborhood located right outside the Tampa Bay.  Her neighbor, Lori Deaton, is charter boat captain of Ladyfish Charters and affiliated with an amazing group called Hooked on Hope.  Also, her physician, Dr. Charles E. Cox, is behind this amazing organization.  Susan truly shows what having a positive outlook and taking hold of your care can help you in dark times.  She has not been immune to despair, but she’s not letting it keep her down.

This Belated Monday’s Mantra is this – Even the strongest diamond can feel like a pebble in a raging river – I am strong, I am a fighter and I will succeed at getting through the impossible.  For those loved one’s that I have that are struggling with this difficult diagnosis and facing the days ahead, it will be long, hard and sometimes unbearable.  For those that are there someone with these illnesses, there was a reason that you were brought into this and your strength, sometimes, is what helps others face the next day.  Be there and trust that your support makes huge differences even when it may not seem so.