Today is World Cancer Day 2015 and with the tag line ‘Not Beyond Us’ I am encouraged by the positive message this sends out. Cancer is a horrible disease and one by which sadly we are all touched at some point in our lives, either directly or indirectly. For me this has a particular resonance as I lost my father to cancer 16 years ago tomorrow. His illness and my family’s loss was one of the main reasons that I chose to become a Nutritional Therapist and it is still the strong driving force behind my passion.
Two of the biggest messages that this day is sending out for me are Quality of Life and Early Detection. My father’s cancer was repeatedly missed meaning that he died just three weeks after he was finally diagnosed. This left us reeling and without any time to try different treatments; it became simply about making him as comfortable as possible. I have always been a fighter and never wanted to give up, something I inherit from my mother. This late diagnosis took that power away from us and that is one of the most scary things about this disease, the feeling of lack of power that people can have.
What is great about the Not Beyond Us message is that it gives people hope, it helps us to see that cancer does not have to be some terrible monster, it is a disease that we can fight. The posters that abound nowadays advising us to check with the GP about blood in urine or stools, bloating, persistent coughing and so many more, while depressing, are not misguided and it is important to check symptoms to help with early detection.
The message that is strongest for me from this day is Healthy Life Choices. This is one of the most important elements in the prevention of and help with fighting cancer. There is more and more research emerging about our health and lifestyle choices and links to cancer. This is going beyond smoking, drinking and lack of exercise and is focusing on types of weight gain, foods that we eat and even foods that we don’t. It can seem overwhelming and even depressing to some. I can assure you, however that being told to exercise more or reduce your sugar intake is a lot less depressing than being told you have cancer.
Our Western diets have become filled with sugar, refined carbs, high in alcohol, low in fat (the good kind), low in fibre and so full of processed foods that we lack many of the nutrients needed in our everyday diet. Nutrients that are important in cancer prevention. My approach as a Nutritional Therapist is to help people replace those nutrients, to remove some of the damaging foods and replace them with healthy and viable alternatives. This is not a depressing message, it is exciting and encouraging.
The campaigns behind World Cancer Day are promising and a good start in the right direction, encouraging organisations and setting out plans for governments to help educate and provide resources. I cannot think of a better tribute to my dad, than to write this blog and hope that some people listen to today’s message.
If you would like more information on a healthy diet and lifestyle, please contact Kirsty Williams Nutrition.