The word used to strike so much terror it was whispered in hushed tones as if the mere mention could cause the disease to strike. While the subject still isn’t pleasant, our knowledge and ability to treat some – if not most – cancers has improved markedly. Some of the confusion arises over the name. Cancer isn’t just one thing. Instead, it a disease of a process that allows cells to grow unregulated. Cancer can occur almost anywhere in the body, and cancer in some parts of the body are relatively easy to treat and have high survival rates, like testicular cancer, and other cancers can be extraordinarily difficult to diagnose and treat and are still most often deadly when discovered, like pancreatic cancer.
Treatments like surgery, chemotherapy and radiation have radically improved cancer survival rates, and many types of cancer are now considered a manageable disease – more akin to having a chronic condition rather than the sword of Damocles it once was. Of course, if you have never been diagnosed with cancer you still probably don’t want to be, no matter how much modern medicine can help. So the most practical thing all of us can do – regardless of current or future diagnosis – is to take care of ourselves. Eat well. If you smoke, stop. Get enough rest. Find time to exercise. Learn to relax. Avoid the things you know are bad for you. Enjoy the things you know are good for you.
While some cancer research focuses on the genetics of cancer, and other research on drugs, treatment and cures, for most of us who are not oncologists and medical researchers, health and lifestyle are the only weapons we have. In fact, one study in the medical journal The Lancet, found that 35 percent of cancers have triggers that can be modified by lifestyle choices. You can read more here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(05)67725-2/fulltext <http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2805%2967725-2/fulltext>
Fortunately, some lifestyle choices are sweet, like this amazing smoothie recipe, developed by a foodie going through chemotherapy.
- 12 ounces almond milk
- 1 banana
- 1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
- 3 tablespoons raw almond butter
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix at medium speed for about one minute or until mostly smooth. If a thinner smoothie is desired, add more water or almond milk and blend for a few more seconds.
Yield: makes 24 ounces.