Here and There – by Dominique Liboiron
In my last column, I wrote about the passing of Terry Fox’s dad. Rolland Fox died from the same form of cancer as his son. The disease is so common that I’d be very surprised if any of you don’t know at least one person who has been touched by cancer.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, April is a time for all Canadians to reflect upon the thousands of people living with cancer and to remember loved-ones lost to the disease as well. The CCS also encourages Canadians to do something special for those living with the disease or to contribute in some way to the fight against it.
Daffodil Month is held every April as a way for the CCS to raise funds and awareness about cancer. You can show your support by wearing a daffodil, volunteering or making a donation. Unfortunately, the warm spring has caused daffodils to bloom early and there probably won’t be many that last until the end of the month. That being said, the yellow and white plastic flowers will be available.
Among the many and varied forms of cancer, few are more devastating than breast cancer. Most Canadians know at least one woman, maybe several, who have been affected by this form of the disease. Every year, 50,000 women in Canada are diagnosed with breast cancer and 12,000 succumb to it. In developed countries, this cancer attacks one in eight women.
Scientists know that many factors can contribute to breast cancer. In certain cases, genetic factors are the likely cause, but many other factors seem to be important as well. For example, scientists suspect there’s a connection if a woman’s first pregnancy was after the age of 40 or if she never got pregnant. They also suspect a relationship between a late menopause or an early puberty.
Further to these factors, diet can also contribute to breast cancer especially in the case of foods that contain high levels of animal fat and sugar. Even though researchers are aware of these risks factors, it can be very difficult for them to say with any certainty which ones would cause cancer in specific individuals.
When it comes to alcohol, a study conducted in California with 2,000 women demonstrated that drinking three servings of alcohol or more per week increased the likelihood by 30 per cent that cancer would return after the test subjects had beaten it once before. This was especially true after menopause or if the test subject was obese.
The study in question also revealed that beer, liquor or wine can all cause the cancer to return, but that the risk was higher if the women drank two or more glasses of wine per week.
The CCS recommends that women have a mammogram every two years and also suggests that women talk to their friends and loved-ones about the importance of mammograms.
Quick detection and early treatment diminish the chances that the disease becomes fatal. In the early stages, breast cancer might not show any symptoms. Generally speaking, once a lump is present, the cancer is relatively well-developed, but that being said not all lumps are cancerous. However, any lump, discharge, swelling or abnormality should be shown to a doctor. A mammogram and a second opinion would both be wise courses of action.
There have been many other effective campaigns to raise awareness about breast cancer. The month of October is devoted to breast cancer awareness. When it comes to a cancer that targets men, few events have a higher profile than Movember, which is the annual month of moustache growing in November. Movember began in Australia in 1999 and has since spread across the world in an attempt to break the silence surrounding prostate cancer. Since its inception, Movember has evolved into an awareness campaign for testicular cancer and depression in men as well.
The money that is raised by the sale of daffodils will help researchers to better understand the causes of all cancers, not just breast cancer. Fundraising will also help put a cure within reach. It is very likely that someone you know will benefit from the cure. Who knows, that person could even be you.