Today, February 4, is World Cancer Day.
The theme for 2020 is "I am and I will"... and it packs a powerful punch!
With just five little words, this theme highlights the value of every individual to fight against cancer. It is an empowering call-to-action asking people to do something to save the future. The theme also acknowledges that all of us can fight against cancer.
You see, most of us have known someone, or have been that person, who suffered (or is still suffering) through the “Big C.” There are usually a ton of questions and even more answers. Everyone is different, every case is unique, and there will always be hard times – no matter how much we try to avoid them. Some of the most common ones come from just a basic lack of understanding. “How did you get it?” “How long will it last?” “How can I prevent getting cancer?” “How often do people die from cancer nowadays anyway?” They can be rude or insensitive to the person being asked, regardless of how innocently the asker may have intended. However, some are legitimate concerns.
Without giving you a full Cancer Cram Sesh, here’s some basic information you should know about cancer itself, how to help by donating, how to provide support, and what not to do.
What is Cancer?
The uncontrolled growth of a group of cells in the body is known as cancer. If these cells affect the tissue, cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Cancer can occur at any age. But if the cancer is not detected at the right time and is not treated, it can increase the risk of death.
What are The Most Common Types of Cancer?
In 2019, roughly 1.8 million people were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. An estimated 268,600 women and 2,670 men were diagnosed with breast cancer, which makes it the most common cancer diagnosis. Lung/bronchus cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis, with an estimated 228,150 new cases. Prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis among men and the third most common diagnosis overall with 174,650 expected cases.
Donating to Charity: Know Which Charities are Legitimate and Which to Avoid
Before you give your hard-earned money to any charitable cause, Consumer Reports suggests you look for reports or commentary from the three major charity watchdogs: BBB Wisegiving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch. You can also read the reviews and comments from donors and charity professionals on the charity you’re interested in helping.
According to the average of all three sites, here are the results for the best and worst charities to donate your time and money:
Cancer Survivors’ Fund, Missouri City, Texas
United Breast Cancer Foundation, Huntington, New York
Here’s how to best support a friend with cancer:
1) Ask before you visit.
2) Set up a phone team to keep everyone updated without having to bother the patient too much.
3) Offer to help with daily tasks.
4) Take your cues from your friend.
5) Remember that everyone’s illness is different.
6) Reconsider gifts of food.
7) Give thoughtful gifts, like books, magazines, movies, or puzzles which may be welcomed distractions during chemotherapy.
8) Support caregivers and other family members too.
9) Continue to offer support after the initial diagnosis.
“It’s not always at the beginning of the illness that patients need support. They need support along the entire continuum,” says Memorial Sloan Kettering social worker Meredith Cammarata. Offers of help often “flood in at the beginning of the diagnosis and then it begins to trickle,” she adds. “It’s important to remember that the help is not just needed when they’re first diagnosed or in the hospital.” (source: mskcc.org)
However, here’s what Michael Gavaghen (a management consultant and writer from Boca Raton, Florida, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2012) advises:
“When visiting a friend or family member who is sick, it’s good to leave platitudes at the door.”
He states that while it’s understandable that we might not know what to say when visiting someone who is facing a serious illness, we can still be a calming force if we just “focus on the familiar: The interests you share—work, family, sports, gossip..” are all good starting points. However, it’s hard to avoid having a “Doh! Facepalm!” moment during a visit.
Here are some examples of questions/statements from which to STEER CLEAR:
1) Are you throwing up all the time?
2) Is this a bad cancer?
3) Have you tried [insert alternative treatment]?
4) That wig looks really natural on you; You look good without hair!
5) This probably wouldn’t have happened if you [insert any healthy activity].
6) Both of my parents (or whomever) died of cancer.
7) Treatment was so much harder when [you or someone you know] had cancer.
But, most of all, B E H O N E S T! If you can’t find the right words, it’s okay to admit it. You can never go wrong with “I’m not sure what to say here, except I’m glad we were able to get together,” or “We can talk about whatever it is on your mind. And if you need to vent, I’m your gal/guy!” And then L I S T E N!
…"because what you say is always less important than how well you listen.”
Note from the Author: When it comes to Hawaiian Healing, our main focus is not just to “sell, sell, sell!” From its conception, the mentality has been that while the Hawaiian ingredients in our products will help heal our skin, it is the inherent healing nature of the team who strive to heal the world. Whether it’s by donating to wildlife conservation organizations, providing a group for our tribe to connect and spread the love (aloha spirit), or just reminding you that you are, in fact, worthy of so many amazing things, it’s your health and happiness that mean so much to us. If you can take away something, anything, from this article to help you feel better about yourself or a loved one, then I consider myself blessed to have helped you on your path to healing.