This month’s theme of Women’s Wellness is heavy on my mind. In late March, I lost one of the most near and dear women in my life to cancer, a very aggressive lymphoma. I am still numb and devastated by the loss. I’m also angry, angry that cancer in all its horrendous forms continues to maim, cripple and kill. Almost 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed this year alone, and almost 600,000 Americans will die, according to the American Cancer Society.
We’ve supposedly been waging a war on cancer in this country since the early 1970s, and for all the tremendous amounts of money and effort, how much progress has been made? Not much.
Consider these stats: If you’re a male living in the United States right now, according to the American Cancer Society, you have a 1 in 2 chance of developing some form of cancer in your lifetime—a 50 PERCENT chance. For women, your odds are slightly better: a 1 in 3 chance.
Those odds should be infuriating. They are totally and completely unacceptable. I’ve read quotes from doctors and health experts saying that those odds are due to 1) people living longer (age, they say, is the greatest risk factor), and 2) better tools for detection and diagnosis. I don’t buy that. In the 1940s, the odds of getting cancer were roughly one in 16; in the 1970s the odds were one in 10. No, technology and living longer don’t account for the higher, deadlier odds for all of us. I’m not a doctor or a scientist or an expert of any sort when it comes to cancer. But after seeing my loved one wage five- and six-month life-or-death battles with cancer four times during the past three and a half years, I’m a pretty experienced observer. Here are a few observations:
- Cancer in any form is a horrible, horrible, horrible affliction. To observe anyone stricken with cancer is a devastating and frightening experience. I don’t take comfort in statistics indicating that fewer people are dying from cancer when so many—so, so many—continue to be diagnosed.
- Treatments for cancer are often as debilitating, painful and dehumanizing as the disease itself. Surgery and radiation and chemotherapy—the same treatment options that have existed for decades—are evasive and destructive to any physical body.
- The cancer treatment industry is enormous. Billions and billions of dollars go each year to the system of hospitals, care centers, clinics and health care providers treating cancer patients in the United States. As a journalist, I’m trained to follow the money to get to the truth. I would challenge anyone to look closely at our current cancer-care system; you’ll see how lucrative the existing treatment-focused model is to the industry. Finding a cure would be a substantial financial disruption to every individual and business invested in the status quo.
- Cancer treatment is expensive, tremendously expensive. The cost of cancer treatment in this country is staggering, more than $120 billion this year alone, expected to grow to $150 billion a year by 2020, according to the National Institutes of Health.
As a student and keen observer, here are a couple of things I now believe about cancer:
- Cancer isn’t a communicable disease that’s floating in the air waiting for a new host. It’s the result of our bodies turning against us, a fundamental breakdown in the God-given ability of our bodies to handle the continual onslaught of toxins and harmful elements that enter our systems through the air, through what we consume, through our skin. '
- I believe that each human body has a tipping point, and when that point is reached, the cancer cells that already exist in a body grow and replicate. None of us knows our body’s individual tipping point.
My simple appeal is this: If you’re not currently doing everything you can to push back your tipping point, to give yourself a fighting chance to prevent the cancer cells in your body from firing and replicating, you must start now. You must look carefully at what you eat. You must exercise. You must monitor and manage your stress level. You must—you absolutely MUST—become as educated as possible and take care of yourself, and you must also be a positive example for those you love. Ongoing, proactive vigilance is our only option.
I pray from the bottom of my heart for your health and the health of your family and those you love. This magazine exists as a resource to support your health, to give you options, and to help you and your family live in the most positive, healthful way possible. I hope you will benefit from everything this issue offers; please share it so others may benefit as well. Blessings,
Joel Shuler, Publisher