“I will stand back up and smile like a warrior”. A wisely expressed creative affirmation made by an Art HOPE volunteer artist for our local cancer center. It’s an empowering and positive message that resonates with all of us who’ve lived through difficult experiences that nearly killed us, but they didn’t. Now we are stronger, more alive, and present in our remarkable human resilience. Sunday, June 7th is National Cancer Survivor’s Day. Stand up, take pause, celebrate, and smile!
Take pause and take note; cancer is still one of the fastest growing diseases on the planet. Annually, 1.7 million Americans are effected by cancer and 600,000 will die. Approximately 41% of Americans will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime, 1 in every 2 men, and 1 in every 3 women. Nearly all of us are touched by and know someone with the disease. It has existed since the beginning of human life. 4000 years ago Egyptians first described it as having no cure, and in 400 BC the Greek physician Hippocrates named the cell masses “karkinos”, the word for crab. In fact the disease acts like a predatory crab with claw-like legs and pinchers that attack healthy cells causing them to mutate into cancerous cells in a process called carcinogenesis. In his brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning book and the recent PBS documentary by Ken Burns, Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the history of cancer treatment and research, from early surgeries, to chemotherapy, to the emerging field of immunotherapy. His enlightened work highlights the struggles and successes of how we understand and fight this complicated disease, and how it is a biological, social and cultural phenomenon.
Cancer is a challenge and a battle, bravely fought by scientists, doctors, patients, and caregivers together on the frontline. Hope is the hero, a life-giving medicine that defies statistics. With our collective healing efforts and the will to be well, we will conquer this disease. In 1971 America declared a “war on cancer” with the National Cancer Act, which brought science and government together in a united effort, and most importantly, activated public awareness and support. It’s been a knock-down, drag-out with cancer ever since. Cure is sure and soon. What we do know is that with targeted treatments and if we prevent the known cellular, genetic and epigenetic causes, we can reduce cancer rates by 50%. Cancer prevention includes early detection, identifying and attacking the causes, and changing our health behaviors. In America cancer rates will be cut in half if we stop smoking, address the obesity epidemic, control cancer causing viruses with vaccines, and eliminate environmentally toxic sources, and of course by reducing stress. We all have much to learn and relearn about the prevention of cancer and all dis-ease.
The HOPE factor inspires our positive life belief and intention, creating health and well-being. For all friends and fighters, believers and thrivers who are living with cancer…I stand up and applaud your strength of mind, body, and spirit that says, “I will SURVIVE”. Sing it! and take a spin on the dance floor. For my friends Tina, Dennis, Diane, and George, and the too many millions affected by cancer, this one is for you. “For as long as I know how to love I know I’ll stay alive”. Thanks Gloria Gaynor for that creative affirmation.
Join me for on Sunday, June 7 for a National Cancer Survivor’s Day celebration at the York Hospital Living Well Center, from 2 to 4pm. Art HOPE will be hosting 1000 Healing Cranes. Make, take, or give origami paper cranes and enjoy the ice cream social. Our local survivors will be showing off their amazing dance moves and resilient attitudes.