Cancer sucks. It sucks like kicking rocks with open toed shoes. And guess what? It doesn’t really care how you feel about it. Cancer will just continue being, well you know, cancer.
Just this past weekend, someone we knew was laid to rest after a short bout with the aforementioned adversary. What started out as breast cancer quickly morphed to thyroid and eventually brain where she succumbed shortly thereafter. No time to prepare. No time to fight. Within a few months, she had lost her fight and cancer added another to its ever growing roster of victims.
Cancer Is Beyond Disrespectful
Just last month, and in within one week to be even more precise, four people I knew either by association, family members of friends and even within my own family (rest easy Uncle James) all had their lives cut short by some form of cancer. Even now, my father-in-law (my husband’s mother’s husband) is fighting for his life with gallbladder cancer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be that the odds are in his favor although hope still remains. Treatments don’t seem to be working and the effects of those he’s had far outweigh any good it could possibly do in actually treating the cancer. At this point, it doesn’t seem like much more can be done. It is simply all in God’s hands now.
Listen ya’ll, listen. Cancer is not in the habit of just taking names, it’s taking lives. Every. Single. Day. It doesn’t care about our future. It doesn’t care about your dreams. Regardless of your race, sex, religion or even position in society, cancer can happen to you.
Our friend was a mother, a wife, a sister and a daughter. While her diagnosis was unfortunately found too late (sometimes there are no telltale signs that something is even wrong), it may not be for you or in anyone else in your family, circle of friends, or even coworkers. But know this, as a black person in this country, our survival rates are the lowest among ethnicities including White, Asian, Hispanic or Native Americans. According to the site, cancer.gov, we are 25% more likely to die from some form of cancer than any of the other ethnicities mentioned. Why? The lack of access to screenings and what could be life saving treatment due to often times a lower socio-economic status. But being poor shouldn’t equate to deserving less by way of substandard healthcare.
That is why it is up to us, to be our own advocates, be it for ourselves or our loved ones. We can do so by participating in activities that should be non negotiable in our lives.
For starters, performing regular breast self exams, will be your first line of defense in detecting breast cancer in its early stages. It only takes a few moments of your time or your partner’s time. While White women have the highest occurrence of breast cancer, Black women have the highest death rate from the disease.
Adhere to a schedule of having regular physical examinations with a medical professional. I don’t mean just a once over but blood work with a rundown of a history of diseases within your family. My mother has started keeping a list for our family and it has been eye opening yet informative. It allows me to go my doctor armed with information that will allow him to be even more precise with my care by checking for disease that otherwise probably would not have crossed his mine because of my age, race or sex.
If money is an issue there are free clinics across the country for low to no income individuals and families. Also try these options here or here as well. But if you have access to healthcare through your employer, yearly physicals or well visits as they are often called are 100% covered by your insurance plan thanks to the healthcare law passed in recent years. You pay for that coverage every paycheck, utilize it. It could really mean the difference between life and death.
Having worked in a physical therapy clinic for the past year, I’ve seen the good and bad side of insurance. But I will tell you this, as much as I harp on some of the benefits it may or may not provide, I am thankful for having it especially since having a little person.
Eat Well And Get Moving!!
Finally, maintain your physical wellbeing through healthy eating habits and regular exercise. I can not say this enough!! How you LIVE plays a major role in how you will DIE. Yes, you can be called home at any given time for any given reason but while you are here to see another day, it is up to you take care of the things which are in your control. It is no longer a matter of not being aware or the know how. There is so much knowledge readily available to help you along your fitness journey (Fit Men Cook or It’s Shawn Dot Com). You simply have to start. If you should so happen to develop cancer, you increase your ability to fight if you’re starting with a healthy and fit foundation.
Self Care Isn’t Just Pedicures And Spa Dates
While we make time for any number of activities on a daily basis, we must remember to make time to care for ourselves. Cancer, although not exactly preventable, you can at least give yourself the best chances of survival by being here for YOU. This body that you have been so beautifully gifted is designed to only last as long as we are destined to on this earth. So at least while you’re here, at least show some appreciation and respect for it by giving it proper care and attention.