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What cancer is NOT.
- cancer is not an automatic death sentence
- cancer is not a mysterious boogeyman coming to steal your mom, dad, child, brother, sister.... away from you
- cancer is not contagious
- every cancer is not the same
- cancer is not a curse
- cancer is actually more than 100 diseases that fall under the umbrella of "cancer"
- cancer is a disease that happens at the cellular level
- cancer cells are different from normal, healthy cells in that they grow abnormally and invade other body areas.
- normal cells live, divide and die in a very specific way. If something goes wrong with a cell, it either fixes itself or it dies. In a cancer cell, when something goes wrong, the cell doesn't repair itself and it doesn't die. Instead, it changes the cells around it.
- cancer cells grow out of control and invade other cells. That is what makes them cancer. Think of it as a part of your body deciding that it wants to rebel against the job it was created to do. Imagine that your nose decided that it wanted to be an arm. (silly thought, but its something like that)
- when cancer cells grow out of control, they form a tumor. Every tumor is not cancer. Every cancer does not create a tumor. Some cancers, like leukemia, are formed in the bloodstream.
- cancer is named for the area that it is found in. For example, I had breast cancer because tumors were found in my breast.
- no matter where cancer may spread, it is still treated as the cancer from the first location. If my breast cancer were to spread to my bones, it would still be treated as breast cancer.
- each type of cancer is different and requires different treatments. So if (for example) my breast cancer spread to my bones, it would be metastatic breast cancer and not bone cancer. The treatment would be for breast cancer and not bone cancer because the two cancers are very different.
- some tumors are benign -- which simply means that they are not cancer. Benign tumors can still be a problem but their treatment is different from cancer tumors. Benign tumors can grow and press against other body parts/organs but they cannot invade cells. That is what makes them different from cancer tumors. Rarely are benign tumors deadly.
- early detection is best for treating cancer.
- just because you find out that you have cancer, it does not automatically mean that you're going to go through chemotherapy and lose all of your hair. Not everyone has to go through that treatment. Some cancers are treated with medication you take orally. Others are treated with relatively simple surgical procedures.
- being afraid of "what if" is more dangerous than finding out that you have cancer and taking proactive steps to cure it.
- sadly, cancer is very common. Nearly 50% of men will get cancer in their lifetime. And 30% of women will get cancer in their lifetime. While common, it is NOT -- I repeat N.O.T. -- an automatic death sentence.
- we know how to avoid some cancers -- don't smoke (or quit if you do), stay in shape (if you're obese, lose weight), drink alcohol in moderation, limit your time in the sun unprotected, eat a healthy diet (fresh fruits and vegetables, moderate meat intake, lots of water)
- those cancers that we don't know how to avoid, we still can take protective measures against -- know what you're putting in your body through food (the more natural the form, the better for you), be careful about what you put on your skin (chemicals in our cosmetics have been linked to cancer), and pay attention to changes in your body.
I am a witness.