It is so painful. Everyone seems to know a friend or a loved with cancer these days. I have, in the past 6-8 months alone, witnessed three of my closest friends's parents succumb to cancer. In November last year, a friend's mom passed on after suffering from lung cancer which went on to attack her bones. Another close friend, whom I met in early June to offer my condolences, explained her father suffered the same condition. And yet another friend's mom suffered through cancer too for 7 years, the details of whch I am not sure. She was finally eased of her sufferings late May.
It is really quite heart wrenching. When I hear my friends explain how much their parent had suffered through the pain and chemo and how they wished they could have eased their suffering in any way. During the meet up in June, we were discussing why so many of our elders getting diagnosed with cancer? When they had lived through a less stressful, less processed food period? I had to write this post - it affected me seeing my close friends go through their own emotional suffering watching their parent slowly leave them.
In Singapore, 37 people are diagnosed with cancer everyday. The good news is that we are at a time where each of us can go on to enjoy a high quality of life even after cancer diagnosis than any other time in history.
What are the reasons why we are seeing many more cases of cancer than we did say, a 100 years ago?
1) We are living longer - if you notice, most of the detection of cancers occurs in people over 55. Due to advances in science and technology, we are living longer than we did decades ago, when we were not expected to live beyond 55. All around the world, the numbers of seniors are increasing. and the greater number of seniors mean more cancer cases are being detected.
2) Imbalanced Lifestyle - this is a no brainer. We are just getting too busy and too preoccupied to look after ourselves holistically - improper diet comprising fast processed food, lack of movement ie insufficient exercise and a very stressful lifestyle in an ongoing quest to climb that corporate ladder. All these factors are associated with inceased risks of obesity which is linked to many types of cancer.
3)Increase in certain types of cancers - even with increased awareness, certain types of cancer are on the rise which contributes to the numbers. Gastrointestinal cancers affect the entire digestive sysytem - stomach, pancreas, liver, gall bladder or the bowels. Skin cancers are also on the rise because of self tanning and unprotected sun exposure, even though it is preventable.
4) Early Detection -There are a plethora of cancer detecting kits available nowadays which helps in early detection. Just last weekend, Siglap CC's Women's Exec Committee conducted a breast and colon cancer health talk and free colon cancer detecting kits were given out. These kits and screening tests were only available to the public in the recent years which could have caused an increase in the statistics.
Fortunately, receiving news about cancer is not a death sentence nowadays. Like most illnesse, early detection helps you in beating the disease and having a chance of a long life. What we can do is to have a balanced lifestyle, reduce our risks whenever possible and go for yearly health checkups. That's the least we can do for our loved ones.