Saturday, Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day, but for me, and for countless people around the globe, every day is Cancer Day – because you or someone you love has the disease.
In my case, it’s my husband’s prostate cancer and the cancers of the more than 1,000 kids who have visited The Imus Ranch—and changed my life—since 1998.
The point of World Cancer Day is to unite people around the world in the fight against the disease, which accounted for approximately 7.6 million deaths worldwide in 2008, according to the World Health Organization. By 2030, that number is expected to exceed 11 million.
Cancer is a devastating disease—for patients, for families, and for health care professionals. In many cases, there is little someone could have done to avoid contracting the disease, usually because of a genetic predisposition or plain old bad luck. But more than 30 percent of the time, according to the WHO, cancer can be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors like tobacco use, low-fruit and vegetable intake, a lack of physical activity and urban air pollution.
Unfortunately, for the increasing number of children battling cancer, exposure to tobacco smoke, toxic foods and other contaminants is beyond their control. They partake in these unhealthy activities because their parents do. As a result, cancer is the leading cause of death among U.S. children younger than 14, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The NCI is conducting research to identify the causes of cancers that develop in children, including one on the risk of second cancers related to radiation and chemotherapy received in childhood. Few parents would decline the opportunity to eradicate their child’s cancer by such means, but the ramifications later in life are real, and they are many—from learning disorders and mobility impairments to the aforementioned rematch with cancer. It’s an evil, but often a very necessary one.
I believe that for anybody with cancer—children, adults, babies, the elderly—treatment should be aggressive, but not always with traditional medication. More people are turning to holistic means of combating or preventing cancer and other serious illnesses. A 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control showed that nearly 40 percent of adults had used some sort of complimentary or alternative medicine in the previous 12 months. What we eat, drink and breathe profoundly affects how we feel, and the sooner people learn the value of treating their bodies right—with organic foods, plant-based cleaning products, health-promoting supplements and daily exercise—the less I think we’ll hear about cancer.
This World Cancer Day, make a difference by preaching the gospel of true integrative oncology—of treating the whole person, as my friend Dr. Lawrence Rosen often says of his pediatric patients. Have an honest conversation with your doctor, ask a lot of questions, and make the decision that works best for your family. By taking an active—rather than reactive—approach to wellness, you’ll be that much more prepared to take on cancer, and anything else.
Deirdre Imus, Founder of the site devoted to environmental health, dienviro.org, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center™ at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com, Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel. Check out her website at dienviro.org, 'Like' her Facebook page here.
Deirdre Imus, Founder of the site devoted to environmental health, www.ImusEnvironmentalHealth.org, is President and Founder of The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® at Hackensack University Medical Center and Co-Founder/Co-Director of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer. She is a New York Times best-selling author and a frequent contributor to FoxNewsHealth.com, and Fox Business Channel. Check out her website at www.ImusEnvironmentalHealth.org. Follow her on Twitter@TheGreenDirt and 'like' her Facebook page here.