The New Super Power
With February 4th as World Cancer Day, it’s time to discover that cancer may have initiated the fight, but we have the power to defeat it.
Cancer. What folks used to utter in hushed tones around the dinner table, as if to suggest this horrible disease was to be swept under the rug, has now evolved into a proactive movement in a strong fight to eradicate this potential death sentence. By definition, The American Cancer Society refers to cancer as a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. If that spread is not controlled, it can lead to death. Each year, more than eight million people from around the world die from cancer. That is eight million people too many. It’s time to take a step in the direction of defeating this killer.
You may ask yourself, “How can I possibly make a difference in this significant fight? I am but one person.” It is easier than you might think. You can exercise your super powers and join forces with other individuals, communities and organizations the world over on World Cancer Day, Sunday, February 4, 2018. This is a time when the entire world can band together in the fight against this global epidemic, making it a world health priority. The primary goal of World Cancer Day is to raise awareness and spread education about cancer, leaning on governments and individuals worldwide to take action against this disease. Through this effort, there exists the possibility to prevent the death of millions.
Overseen by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the primary mission is to “unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.” This is the one singular initiative in which the entire world can band together to fight the cancer epidemic on a global level. UICC provides support through the development of tools and guidance to encourage its member organizations to run local cancer awareness campaigns aligned with and adapted to the global World Cancer Day message.
All over the world, this day of awareness and empowerment will bring together communities through festivals, walks, seminars, public information campaigns and a host of other events to highlight the day, raising awareness and further educating people on the strategies needed to fight cancer. Among the primary tools with which we can all empower ourselves include screening for early detection; healthy eating; physical exercise; giving up smoking; and calling upon our public officials to make issues of cancer a top priority. Even just one voice through a strong call to action can create a ripple effect in the overall wave of the fight.
The theme for World Cancer Day in 2018 continues from previous years as “We can. I can.” It’s a message that celebrates both the individual and collective ability to reduce the worldwide burden of cancer. On an individual level, you can personally take action by making healthy lifestyle choices. Avoid smoking; rev up your heart rate by working out on a regular basis; embrace a healthy diet; drink in moderation; and beware the wrath of too much sun exposure. Continue to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of cancer and understand the guidelines for early detection. The sooner cancer is diagnosed, the easier it can be to treat.
If you or a loved one have been or are diagnosed with cancer, do not be afraid to ask for support, which can be found in friends, family, partners, colleagues, healthcare professionals and counselors. Some people even consider joining self-help groups, which foster caring and supportive environments for those dealing with cancer.
Returning to work may not seem possible, but in many cases, it is important to restore that sense of normalcy, stability and social contact with others, as well as providing a continued source of income. Speaking with employers can help to ensure appropriate adjustments are made in terms of accommodations or even work schedules.
Equally important to the fight against cancer is to make your voice heard. Become your own self-advocate. Share your story and influence others affected by this disease. As a single voice, you can contribute to a large dialogue by engaging with public campaigns, joining consumer support groups or communicating with decision makers. This allows you and others to set forth the issues that matter most to you. Further, arm yourself with facts and do not be afraid to challenge the misconceptions about cancer, thereby shifting the negative beliefs and attitudes towards those living with cancer and creating a platform to remove the stigma of the disease.
As a community, it is important to encourage governments to dedicate the proper resources to reduce cancer deaths while also providing a better quality of life for cancer patients and survivors. Collectively, we can call upon our governments to go to bat in this fight, pushing for actions that can reduce premature deaths and improve the quality of life for cancer patients, ultimately increasing their survival rates.
We can also create healthier schools and work places, creating a culture of healthy choices and habits. As leaders in the community, schools and businesses can promote healthy behaviors for children, parents, employees, staff and families overall, establishing an environment focused on proper nutrition and physical activity.
Fortunately, for so many individuals affected by cancer, World Cancer Day is showing strong signs of becoming an important day of awareness on calendars every year. The UICC is dedicated to ensure this annual event is seen and heard by many more people around the globe and encourages its member organizations to offer local cancer awareness campaigns aligned with and formulated for the global World Cancer Day Message.
Be sure to mark your calendar for Sunday, February 4, 2018 as a day of positive change across the world.