World Cancer Day, every year on 4th Feb . Two ways to look at it. The disease has reach such mammoth proportions that we need to dedicate an entire day to create awareness about it. One entire day for Cancer from the meagre 365. Other way, it has a day dedicated to it because of the awareness created around it’s prevention and treatment. Both ways arriving at the same conclusion – we need to do something about it, and fast.
I have lived this day a lot of days since I was 7. My grandmother got diagnosed late, got treated with whatever medicines are available in those days and then lost the battle to cancer. 10 years later, my mother got diagnosed early and began her own battle, which we have not yet lost. But still it has meant dealing with this monster every single day. And they are not the only ones. I have had friends, relatives, teachers, friend’s parents, a nephew - people I have known, and liked, afflicted with this emperor of diseases.
While I cannot change what it means to live with cancer every day, what does change though is how I will react to it as a part of my life.
No doctor on this planet will dare say that cancer is curable. It is not. The only and only thing they will say is that it is preventable.
And that I think is key message that needs to go everywhere possible. It is an eminently preventable disease. I want the awareness of this fact to spread before we come to the how part of it.
I invite you, my readers to tell me – what will help create this awareness:
- An awareness walk/run – a good example is Pinkathon
- A lone warrior campaign – talking about it at every single public speaking opportunity
- Sharing a personal story – talking about how it has affected you, how you dealt with it, and what you did changed things for the better.
- Organize a mammoth physical feat for a mammoth disease – walking 1000 miles to raise awareness, cycling 10,000 to raise awareness, etc
- Tie up with social bodies like the IMA, Rotary Club to organize an awareness drives.
- Sometimes I think, noble that these causes are, they are around for just a day or a limited duration in case of the activity. Just like World Cancer Day. Since it affects me every day, why not do something every single day – talk about it to friends and strangers, post quotes, post statistics, count those who you have lost to it, follow optimistic research.
While I am not jingoistic about the whole thing saying things like, “Cancer stops here”, or “It will soon be just a sun sign”, what I can definitely say is that the treatment of the disease has undergone a radical change in the last 25 years that I have been up close and personal with it. This is another message that needs to go out—the treatment is no longer worse than or as bad as the disease.
The chemotherapy is more targeted towards the bad cells, there are things they put in the chemo makes the side effects last less longer and are less harsher, there are genetic treatments and radiation is far more accurate. And all this is just my layman information from my experience of living with it, seeing it work and seeing some small wins. Enough to give even slight succor to anyone who has visited an Oncologist.
What message must pass is that Cancer is preventable through lifestyle change, it is very diagnose-able with regular checkup, and if afflicted, it is treatable enough to give you fighting chance.
From times when we counted the days, to making every day count, it is some progress I think.