Monday, 27 April 2015

Cancer - Just "one of those things" or something more sinister ?

It happens to most of us at some point in our lives. We, or a family member or friend becomes ill and we begin to analyse our life style, desperately searching for an answer to how this could have happened and even more desperately hoping for a simple solution to the problem. There has to be an antidote to all the "bad" things that we have knowingly done to our bodies up to now and if we stop doing some things and begin doing others, all will be fine, we think. We sometimes conclude that it's "just one of those things" and we were unlucky to have this happen to us. It was no one's fault and nothing could have been done to prevent it.

Fortunately, many of us recover from the illness with no lasting side effects. Whether this was from the medical intervention we received or the changes we made in our diet and lifestyle - it is likely to be a combination of both - doesn't concern us too much. The illness that blighted our life has gone and we are thankful and relieved at that.
Unfortunately, many of us slip back into the old habits that we took such care to change. It's almost an instinctive reaction to push to the back of our minds that we ever had the illness in the first place and carry on as before.

When I had a heart attack way back in 2001 (completely unexpected, but then most things like that are) my family soon had me using skimmed milk, olive oil based margerine and every other "healthy"  food we could find. I had eaten healthily prior to this and had no history of heart disease, raised cholesterol or blood pressure, but was keen to adopt anything that would prevent my children becoming motherless too early.

Then my eldest grandson was diagnosed with Non Hodgkinson's - T Cell Lymphoma at the age of three, in 2003. What was originally thought to be a chest infection resulted in an emergency rescusitation followed by a harrowing chemotherapy course on our baby boy.
What had we fed him, washed him with, cleaned the house with or generally exposed him to, to have caused this monstrous invasion of his little body ?
We didn't find out, but we were fortunate that the treatment, though difficult, worked well. A strapping, stroppy, beautiful teenager with an "attitude" is the result, and we are immensely thankful for this.

And now his mother, my eldest daughter with breast cancer, diagnosed in March this year and onto the third round of chemotherapy this week.
Of course we were shocked at the diagnosis. Why her when she had already gone through this awful scenario with her own child ?  But that question becomes irrelevant once the initial feelings of devastation lessen and we find that there are so very many people in the same situation, even within a fairly close social circle.

The question to be asked then is - how is it that so many people are getting cancer ?
Is it that with the incredible technology and diagnostic procedures that we now have, it appears to be more prevalent to the average person who is not medically trained ?

The treatment for cancer is advancing at a very fast pace. In the 12 years since our family's experience of T Cell Lymphoma the progress and success in treatment of cancers is pretty mind blowing. What then involved lengthy stays in hospital is now, in general, day visits for targetted treatment.

I'm not producing statistics and data in this post - these can be found here -  but there are at least 34 different identified cancers, affecting all of the human body.
It should concern us all as to what is causing these cancers and how we can prevent them - if we can in fact, at all.  

The list of  "Things Which Can Cause Cancer" grows increasingly longer and the advertisements for many on the list continue to bombard us from all directions. 

Too much sun, fake tan, Coca Cola, 'diet' drinks, 'diet' anything. Microwave popcorn, canned tomatoes, canned anything - the lining of almost all canned foods are made with a chemical called bisphenol-A or BPA which has been shown to affect how genes work inside the brains of rats. 
Tomatoes apparently are particularly dangerous due to their high acidity which can cause the BPA to leak from the lining of the can into the tomatoes themselves. 
Processed meats - bacon, sausages, burgers to name but three contain numerous chemicals and preservatives, such as sodium nitrates, which make them look appealing and fresh but are well known carcinogens. Smoked meats are particularly bad as the meat picks up tar from the smoking process. Yes, thats the same deadly ingredient that cigarette smoke contains. 
Salmon - the farmed type as opposed to wild that is, are fed unnatural diets contaminated with chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides so that what we thought was a healthy food, is anything but.
Crisps. Potato chips are fried in high temperatures to make them crispy but this also causes them to make a material called acrylamide, a known carcinogen also found in cigarettes.
Vegetable oils. Oils can't be extracted naturally like butter so they are chemically removed from their source and often coloured and deodorized to look and smell good.
Processed white flour which is often bleached. Some brown flours that aren't wholemeal are dyed to the appropriate colour. 
Refined sugars, so that also means cakes, biscuits, pies, cookies, sauces, cereals.
Artificial sweeteners. 
Red meat.
Non organic fruits... and so it goes on. And this is before we even consider GMFs (genetically modified foods.)

So we try to buy organic foods, which are of course, very expensive and most of us can't afford to do that with everything. We grow our own vegetables and fruit and try to persuade our children that things are so much better like this. But it's already too late as the taste of chicken nuggets and fizzy fruit juices is seemingly implanted into their genetic make-up.

Perhaps we will come full circle soon, and return to a time when food and other basic necessities are just that - necessary and natural. Though what is "natural" anymore is beyond me and what is necessary is clearly a subjective view.
I wonder at the irony of chemicals pumped into people's bodies, to destroy cancers that may have been brought about by other chemicals ingested in the first place, knowingly or not.

To all those affected by cancer in any way, keep positive and good luck.