When I first learned that today is World Cancer Day, a day in which the world comes together in unity in support of the global fight against cancer, I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Do we really need an awareness day for everything? After all, isn’t everyone already aware of the devastation brought about by this dreadful family of diseases? Surely everybody has been touched by it in some manner. And what good does a day do anyway?
Cynical? Yes. Grouchy? Yup, that too! Perhaps my reaction has more to do with the fact that I’m resting on a heating pad because I wrenched my back yesterday than it does with whether or not we need a Cancer Day. It might also be related to the fact that I have a treatment next week followed by a scan that will tell us whether or not there has been any change in my own cancer. The days leading up to these scans are always a bit nerve wracking so I’d just as soon avoid the topic of cancer altogether today.
I’ve decided not to do that, however. The Lord has given me a voice (or in this case, a keyboard) and the least I can do is lend it to such a worthy cause. There’s really nothing that I can say about cancer that hasn’t already been said, but let’s begin with some alarming statistics:
- Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause among Canadians.
- An estimated 191,300 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer in 2014 – 97,700 men and 93,600 women.
- About 76,600 Canadians are estimated to have died of cancer in 2014 – 40,000 men and 36,600 women.
- 45% of men and 41% of women will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime.
- On average, 524 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer every day.
- On average, 210 Canadians die of cancer every day.
- About 30% of all cancer deaths are due to five leading behavioral and dietary risks: obesity, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use.
- More than 60% of all new cases each year occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America which account for 70% of the world’s cancer deaths.
- Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue rising, with an estimated 13.1 million deaths in 2030. I suspect that this is, in part, related to the fact that life expectancies are also rising.
Despite these gloomy numbers, cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years. Awareness is making a difference!
The theme for World Cancer Day 2015 is “Not Beyond Us”. This year, the campaign is focusing on four key areas: choosing healthy lives, delivering early detection, achieving treatment for all, and maximizing quality of life. It takes a positive approach to the fight against cancer by highlighting new treatments and solutions that are within reach.
Today is World Cancer Day but the fight against cancer takes place every day. It takes place in research labs around the world but it also takes place all around you. It takes place in that home where a mother, father or child is fighting for life. It takes place in the hospitals and clinics where they receive treatment. It takes place in classrooms where good health habits are being taught and it takes place in communities, large and small, where fundraisers are held to benefit everything from individual patients to global research.
What will you do to make a difference in the fight against cancer? Will you make a donation, offer to drive an acquaintance to an appointment, or drop off a meal for the family when you know that Mom has had a treatment? Whatever you choose to do, you can make a difference!